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Dodgy USAF jet and crew at Shannon
anti-war / imperialism |
Friday September 30, 2005 16:28 by Tim Hourigan - M.A.M.A. /Cosantoiri Siochana
No markings, no uniforms but garda protection
I was out at Shannon Airport yesterday being interviewed by the Sunday Tribune. You can read about that bit on Sunday though... here's what I saw as we were leaving the airport.
A gulfstream jet, with a strange registration, being guarded by Gardai, and two men in suits being whisked away.
Unmarked USAF jet protected with our taxes
Having finished her interview, and tasted both sides of "public relations" at Shannon, the journalist walked with me towards the bus stop, and I was pointing out the landmarks It went a bit like this "Over there is the hangar where the Pitstop Ploughshares did their disarmament action, and when Mary Kelly did her action, that plane was parked... over there..." and Lo, and behold...
Over in that same spot was a Gulfstream jet with a Garda van parked watching it, blue lights flashing away, and the Gardai sitting inside not being too nosey about the plane.
I had a look through my binocs and noticed the only visible markings on the plane 60206.
That's not a civilian registration. It would have a letter in it e.g. N379P, EI-CDG etc.
I took a few photos and then had another look through my binocs, just in time to see two men at, least one who looked middle -eastern in appearance, one in a black sports jacket and the other in a light grey jacket come down the steps of the plane, just as a grey van (Ocean Bridge Handling) arrived. It quickly whisked them away before I got a good photo. I have posted the clearest shot of the plane. I might be able to get something from the other shots later.
When I got to an internet cafe, I went looking for the plane,,, and it turns out... It's part of the US Air Force 89th Airlift Wing, based at Andrews Airforce Base (the same place they keep Airforce One) .
It's full registration is 86-0206.
The aircraft is listed as a C-20B of the 99th Squadron used for "Special Air Missions", hence their call sign "SAM" as opposed to the generic military call sign "REACH" that most of the troop flights use. The C-20 is the militarised version of the Gulfstream.
So who were the two dudes in civvies?
They weren't in Air Force uniform, and they weren't wearing reflective jackets like ground crew would do. Perhaps the Gardai took their details and asked their business as they had done to me earlier?
And why didn't the jet have Air Force markings?
click here to see another USAF C-20 WITH the markings.
A short time later, when I had left the airport, heading for Limerick and put the batteries back in the radio (airport byelaws etc.) I heard "SAM 9366" departing.
For comparison, here's the same jet with the same number in three different locations.