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Intruder found at Air Force One base day before Biden’s 1st flight

Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Logan Carlson)
February 05, 2021

The U.S. Air Force is investigating after an unauthorized individual snuck into Joint Base Andrews (JBA) in Prince George’s County, Md., the home base for presidential plane Air Force One on Thursday night.

The intrusion at the base happened a day before President Joe Biden was scheduled to take his first flight from the base aboard Air Force One. According to a White House schedule provided to American Military News, Biden is scheduled to depart from JBA to visit Wilmington, Del., in his first flight aboard Air Force One as president.

“An unauthorized individual gained access to Joint Base Andrews,” a base spokesman told Military Times. “The incident is under investigation. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is lead on this investigation. Any requests for information related to the incident can be referred to OSI.”

Separately, AFOSI spokeswoman Linda Card told Military Times that investigators are interviewing the individual that gained access to the base.

The base is home to the 89th Airlift Wing, which operates Air Force One and other executive transport aircraft. The unit is known as “The President’s Wing.” Technically, the Air Force One designation can apply to any aircraft carrying the U.S. president, but the name has mostly come to describe one of two highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft, with the tail codes, 28000 and 29000, which most often carry the president.

In addition to house the “Presidential Wing,” the base is also home to the 316th Wing, the 113th Wing, the Air National Guard Readiness Center, the 459th Air Refueling Wing and Naval Air Facility Washington.

The identity and motive of the base intruder is unclear, however, an unnamed source for The Aviationist reported the individual entered the base sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. on Thursday and boarded an C-37 aircraft.

While not one of the highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft used by the president, C-37 A/Bs are another aircraft operated by the 89th Airlift Wing to provide “worldwide special airlift missions for high ranking government and Department of Defense officials,” according to the Air Force.

The source for the Aviationist said the intruder initially avoided being detected but was subsequently apprehended and detained.

The intrusion led JBA to temporarily suspend its trusted traveler program, Air Force Magazine reported. The program, which JBA started in 2015, allowed “valid [Common Access Card] cardholders with escort authority to vouch for” up to 10 people to enter the base with them in the same vehicle without having to get them pre-cleared by the 11th Security Support Squadron Visitor Control Center at Andrews.

On his last hours in office, before Biden was inaugurated, President Donald Trump held a farewell ceremony at JBA, before departing for Palm Beach, Florida on his last flight aboard Air Force One during his presidential term.