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Air Force One makes local landing

February 05, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Air Force One landed Friday at Hagerstown Regional Airport, marking the first time a Boeing 747 has touched down at the airport since the runway extension was built, airport officials said.

President Bush was on his way to Camp David when his plane landed at the airport just before 5 p.m. because of the threat of inclement weather, said Greg Larsen, the airport's business development manager.

Bush, who was at the airport for less than 10 minutes, was transferred to a motorcade for the rest of the trip, Larsen said.

Larsen said Friday's landing was possible because of the airport's recently completed runway extension project, which lengthened the airport's runway from 5,461 feet to 7,000 feet.

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"(Landing a 747) was not even a remote thought before we got the added length," Larsen said.

Air Force One fleet planes have landed at the airport in the past, Larsen said.

However, the largest fleet member the former runway could handle was a Boeing 757, Larsen said.

Commercial versions of Boeing's 747 can hold more than 400 passengers, compared to about 200 passengers on the 757, according to Boeing's Web site.

Any U.S. Air Force aircraft on which the president is flying is referred to as Air Force One, according to the White House Web site.

The airport officially opened its $61.8 million runway extension with a ribbon cutting on Nov. 30, 2007.

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