(SOMEWHERE, EARTH) – Far above the ground at an undisclosed altitude, Air Force One, with President Donald Trump on-board, is currently in a holding pattern. After departing Washington D.C. at approximately 3PM following a press conference in which the president said the current government shutdown could last “for months, or even years”, hundreds of air traffic controllers across the country were added to a group text.
‘Keep him up there.’
‘I’m spinnin at the boundary.’
‘747s ain’t allowed here bro, lol.’
‘I think I just deleted the AF1 flight plan LOLOLOL’
‘First person to tell them to squawk VFR gets to [expletive] my wife’
‘360 degree radial, 240 mile legs, seems legit.’
Those are only some of the more than 1900 messages sent within the 15 minutes following the press conference.
Controllers have made it very clear: they want to get paid, or they are not going to allow the president to land.
“Really, this is a no brainer,” said a supervisor, who wished to remain anonymous. “Personally, I’ve never seen the controllers union and management get along so well. They were high fiving each other and all smiles. It seems Trump really did bring people together, after all. I think JG down there has the record,” he said, pointing to a controller at the other end of the isle. “He put Trump into a hold for like 20 minutes. ‘Expect Further Clearance: You Tell Me.’ That was a new one.”
While we do not know where the aircraft is, or how much fuel is on-board, experts speculate Trump will have to reach a deal within hours if he hopes to land in the United States.
“Technically speaking,” said David Cafferey, an aviation expert, “the pilot in command is the final authority of any flight. He or she can declare an emergency at any time, and essentially do anything and everything to get the plane onto the ground. Usually, the pilot will turn the transponder system to code 7700 to indicate to the controllers there is an emergency happening. I’ve been told that all controllers have been briefed that if they see 7700 from Air Force One, to add 20 minutes to their holding time before passing the flight to the next sector.”
“I suppose he could deviate to Mexico, or Canada,” one air traffic controller said.
“I don’t think they really want to deal with him, either.”
This is a developing story.