Air Force One spotted at Suffolk base

MYSTERY surrounds the possible sighting of Air Force One at a Suffolk military base this week - but American officials are adamant that President Barack Obama was not on board.

Graham Dines

MYSTERY surrounds the possible sighting of Air Force One at a Suffolk military base this week - but American officials are adamant that President Barack Obama was not on board.

Public affairs officers attached to the United States Air Force at the twin RAF bases of Mildenhall and Lakenheath emphatically denied that the presidential Boeing 747-400 touched down in the county and the American embassy in London's Grosvenor Square said it was not aware of any visit.

President and Mrs Obama flew from Washington DC to Oslo this week where he was presented with the Nobel peace prize.

And although the flight path may have taken him over the United Kingdom, the jumbo jet would not have needed to refuel on the 3,875 mile journey.

The most likely explanation is that the spare presidential jet was flown into Mildenhall, where it would have waited while Mr Obama was on the ground in Oslo.

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The meticulous planning procedures of the security conscious White House demands that alternative transport should be available within 500 miles of where Air Force One takes the president.

It means should an emergency occur, or the first plane becomes unserviceable, the other 747 can be with the president within two hours.

Paul Coppin, a planespotter from Mildenhall, said: “The spare Boeing can also be used as a control and command centre while the president is away from the White House.

“Should there be an international crisis, the second aircraft can be utilised to enable Obama to issue orders to his defence chiefs for military action.”