Drone Almost Hits Air Force One With Trump, Melania, And Son Barron On Board
White House military officials have launched an investigation after Air Force One was nearly struck by a small object on Sunday night, with Donald Trump, wife Melania and son Barron all on board.
The jet was approaching a military airport outside Washington just before 6pm when the near miss occurred, with a drone-like object hovering near to the president’s aircraft.
The mysterious object looked yellow and cross-shaped, and while the drone did not strike Air Force One, it was said to fly ‘remarkably close’ to the aircraft – at one point even hovering right below it.
Trump had been returning from a long weekend with his family at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, when the incident occurred. The president had also been visiting his younger brother, Robert Trump, who died on Saturday night in a New York hospital.
AFP White House correspondent Sebastian Smith tweeted about the incident after the group touched down, admitting that while he’s ‘no expert’, he believed the object to be a drone.
‘[Trump] just landed at Andrews on AF1,’ he wrote. ‘Shortly before, while descending, we flew right over a small object, remarkably close to the president’s plane. Resembled a drone though I’m no expert.’
Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs was also on board when the incident occurred on Sunday evening, and took to Twitter to share her experience.
‘Multiple people on AF1 saw what appeared to be a drone just below the plane as we were descending toward Joint Base Andrews,’ she wrote. ‘We came very close to hitting it, per @SebastianAFP, who had a window seat.’
The White House referred queries to the Pentagon, as per The Wall Street Journal, with the latter confirming that the incident was being examined.
‘The 89th Airlift Wing is aware of the report,’ said a statement from the Air Force unit which oversees Air Force One operations at Joint Base Andrews, Md. ‘The matter is under review. The 89th Airlift Wing’s C-32A aircraft landed safely without incident.’
Small drones have become a bigger problem in the country’s skies in recent years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with reports of drones flying near planes increasing over the past two years.
In fact, according to the FAA, it receives more than 100 such reports – from pilots, citizens and law enforcement – each month. Now, the government body hopes to ‘send out a clear message’ that operating drones around aircraft is ‘dangerous and illegal’, warning that unauthorised operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges.
However, federal safety officials have struggled when investigating such incidents in the past, with one reason being that most commercial drones are small and weigh only a few pounds.
As such, although some military aircraft have been hit by them in the past, they were not taken down or seriously damaged.
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CreditsSebastian Smith/Twitter and 3 others
The Wall Street Journal