The plane is probably taking off. The flaps are hard to see but they don't quite look to be extended enough for landing (Looks like flaps 20). On a 747 they extend to around 45 degrees (flaps 30, but they curve around more than that) for landing and have a huge, unmistakable profile. Further, we know it's KBFI and we know the plane is on 31L from the ...
The pilot in command has final authority over Air Force One
Air Force Instruction 11-202, Volume 3 says the following in Chapter 1, part 1.1.1 (as in, the very first thing in the document):
1.1.1. Pilot in Command Authority. The Pilot in Command (PIC), regardless of rank, is responsible for, and is the final authority for the operation of the aircraft.
Please skip to the edit after the picture to see my actual answer. I'm leaving my original answer intact though, since other answers have referenced it.
I'm guessing that's it's taking off because:
The wheels appear to be spinning (though the picture is kinda grainy so...)
There isn't any smoke behind the tires, even though it would have just touched down....
This picture is most likely taken during landing. The flaps configuration is the best clue. Flaps are extended more for landing than they are for takeoff. Compare with other pictures of Air Force One:
OP, brightness adjusted:
The difference in flaps is a bit subtle but seems to match landing best.
Other good clues for ...
Measured directly on the image, the angle between the cheatline and the runway is 5.5°; the true pitch angle of the plane will be slightly less than that, because of a little perspective foreshortening.
According to this document from Boeing, a typical liftoff attitude for a 747-400 is 10°. (The VC-25 in the picture is a modified 747-200, but none of the ...
When multiple U.S. military aircraft are operating in formation, they do so as a "flight". This flight has a callsign, and in the case of Presidential transport flights, this callsign is the Presidential one, such as Air Force One or Marine One.
For POTUS transport using a fixed-wing aircraft, the flight typically consists of a single aircraft, usually one ...
As I am sure you are aware, the convention is that any aircraft that has the current US president on board is given the "One" call sign.
For military aircraft, this is the branch of the military followed by "One", which is why you have Air Force One, Marine One, Navy One. If he is on a civilian jet, it is called Executive One.
The actual plane that ...
Another way to possibly determine the answer to the question: check the photo's exif data to see time photo taken, then google where potus was going that day which will determine if this was origin or destination. Google that day's news for further clues on potus schedule and location, if necessary.
Why don't we actually analyze videos of Air Force One landing and taking off instead of just analyzing the pictures?
Here is a video of it taking of at Boeing Field on 13R (the same runway, but opposite direction).
Note that the B4 taxiway mark is clearly visible in the video. By counting the number of taxiway marks and comparing it to the airport chart:
It is all in your link (in the "See Also"), E.g.:
Vatican: "Shepherd One", or just in Italy "Volo Papale #" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Does the United States Air Force retain identical aircraft not
routinely used as Air Force One, for specific training use?
The Airforce maintains two identical versions of the VC-25A that it uses to fulfill the role of Air Force One but its unclear (and likely not public) if any practice occurs in either airframe.
Otherwise, how is it determined that ...
They are classified as Tiltrotors, which is its own category for all the obvious reasons.
If the President were flying in a Marine Osprey, the callsign would be Marine One. If he were in an Air Force Osprey, it'd be Air Force One.
They can fly as close as they like so long as they're upwind of the wake turbulence. I can't imagine the engines giving them much grief, but again, it's a case of being in the right place.
Bear in mind that while Air Force One is indeed a large aircraft, fighter jets are by no means small and they also carry significant thrust.
Rather than formation flying ...
The absence of any smoke from the tires is reason #1 to suspect takeoff.
The flaps definitely aren't fully extended, but they're extended more than the minimum for takeoff. This means that more analysis has to happen before taking the position of the flaps as definitive:
If the runway is short, both takeoff and landing would have more flaps than if it ...
The plane is landing.
the engines are running on low power setting, otherwise there would be considerable blurring visible below the rear fuselage because of the hot exhaust plumes. In this picture the blur behind the main gear is similar to that in front of the main gear, consisting of bokeh and motion blur.
looking carefully you can actually see that the ...
I can conclusively say the nose of the plane was about 2920 feet from the end of the runway proper (not including the extended area).
Notice the second door of the middle hangar lines up with the nose of the plane. To see where the next building starts just look at the roof line.
Here's my line of sight from the photographer lined up with the doors of the ...
Following this source, the armament is "none".
An aircraft so big looks more like like a bomber, and large bombers in these days tend to rely on the escorting fighter aircraft to defend them. On board self-defence weapons of the bomber are not efficient, see this answer. I think VC-25 just does the same.
Other large aircraft with the potential management ...
Near as is know outside of a security clearance the answer is no, a Boeing VC-25 does not carry missiles or offensive weaponry. During times of crisis, VC-25s are often escorted by armed jet fighters which can attack potential threats to the VC-25 if need be.
When the president travels, a TFR (VIP Movement) is issued. This ensures that other non-authorized airplanes are not in the vicinity.
The president generally does not travel to places where there is a chance of such insecurity. Although sometimes they take precautionary measures like as mentioned here:
On 8 March 2000, President Clinton flew to Pakistan ...