It was seen taking off from a US Air Force base, which is part of Air Mobility Command. A great deal of their operation is departing or returning troops from abroad, so it gets a lot of rare visits from oddball commercial aircraft.

This 747 had the short 3-window upper deck area, so it was a -100,-200 or SP, and it wasn't an SP. It was a "white tail", entirely white except for some numeric markings.

No USAF marking, that's not a surprise since the Air Force has six 747-100/200s: all accounted for by four NEACP planes (why would they come to an AMC base?) and two VIP transports (and they have a distinctive paint scheme, so, I wouldn't be asking).

It did not carry the distinctive markings of several Arab state head-of-state aircraft, the NASA paint scheme, nor the Las Vegas Sands Corp. scheme, nor Earnest Angley Ministries. It did not have any funny engines on it. Kalitta Air doesn't fly them anymore.

I have to assume none of the nine in Iranian service would be visiting a USAF/AMC base.

I'm sorry, I tried to get a photo, but could not safely stop. What could this airplane be?

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe Flightradar can help? Funny engines :D $\endgroup$ – Peter Feb 3 '19 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ You seem to know your 747s. Any reason you haven't considered a -400F? $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Feb 3 '19 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 I did not know the 400F had a short bump. I also can't imagine why they'd use a contractor freight-only bird when the base is lousy with C-5s and C-17s. Much of the movements there seem to be passenger, so I assumed it was a passenger plane. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 3 '19 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ Did it have winglets? If so, -400F. $\endgroup$ – Vikki - formerly Sean Feb 10 '19 at 4:42

All factory freighter 747s have short upper-decks, that includes the -400F and -8F. Some don't, but those are converted from passenger 747s that had the stretched upper-deck.

It could have been a 747-400F contracted by the military, plenty of those come in all-white, such as N404KZ:

enter image description here

I don't know on what basis the military prefers contractors over C-5s, etc., but an example of a civilian 747 contracted by the Air Mobility Command that crashed is National Airlines Flight 102.

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    $\begingroup$ The advantage of contractors is that you can lease them short-term and on short notice, while when you buy a C-5 you're stuck with it for 30 years. And the C-5 production line has closed so you can't order new ones. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Feb 4 '19 at 13:52

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