This Is Not Marine One

This summer I had the honor of being able to photograph the Obama family leave for their last vacation while President Obama is president of the United States of America.

This happened because our cousin has a very special job in the Air Force.  And because of the job, we were able to get access to the visitor area for the event.

I say event because that’s what it felt like. Although the actual “action” was only about 5 minutes long.

To gain access we had to first get a visitor pass to enter the Air Force base. Then we had to go through a TSA-like security check into the airport gate and terminal. There were x-ray machines, metal detectors, and full bag checks. Up until that point, all checks were done by the Air Force.

Before leaving the gate and heading to the runway, Secret Service did yet another bag check of every person. There were also pat downs. Being that we had our family, including two toddlers and an infant, we were surprised with how friendly and playful the Secret Service were with the chaos of so many bags, strollers, and so on.

Three is a crowd

I had rented the Nikon 300mm f/4 VR lens from Borrow Lenses. Because I knew, I would be pretty far from the plane. I wanted quality glass, but in a lightweight package. And that lens was a perfect choice. I never used it before hand, but I was so happy with the lens that it’s now on my wishlist.

My position wasn’t the best, but I had no choice. We were told to find a place and not to move around. Unfortunately, I was near the back of the line to exit the gate, so my position was squeezed between a Secret Service vehicle and a cement post. The shadow you see on the right is the cement post, and I left it there because I want you to see what I had seen.

Three helicopters.  One of which is Marine One. The other which contains secretaries and other political people. The third which is a decoy.

A lot of security goes into such a simple thing like going on vacation.

Not knowing which helicopter contained the Obama family, I framed this photograph and waited. It turns out it was the wrong one. Marine One wound up landing just behind the Secret Service vehicle in front of me.  So I did not have the opportunity to photograph them leaving Marine One.

This is not Marine One

But I did get them boarding Air Force One as the stairs and door were directly in front of me.

You will have to wait until the next blog post to see that.

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