Trump cancels visit to US cemetery in France because of bad weather.
On Saturday Nov. 10, 2018, President Trump was scheduled to travel to Belleau Wood, 55 miles northeast of Paris, as part of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.
Belleau Wood is where the US troops had their breakthrough battle by stopping a German push for Paris shortly after entering the war in 1917.
“The battle of Belleau Wood proved America’s mettle to allies and foes alike, and by the time the war ended U.S. forces were at least an equal to any of the other major armies, which were exhausted and depleted. The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau contains the graves of 2,289 servicemen and commemorates 1,060 others who fell at Bealleau Wood,” Metro reported.
Although it had been planned for months, the trip was canceled because, according to the White House, bad weather “grounded” his helicopter, “considered ill-equipped to make the short journey because of the clouds and drizzle”.
The cancellation drew much criticism: someone said the VH-3 and VH-60 flown by the U.S. Marine Corps HMX-1 (Marine Helicopter Squadron One) should be able to fly in rain and moderate bad weather; others say the president should have had a back-up plan that foresaw a different way to travel to Aisne-Marne regardless of the weather.
According to the Washington Post, the Secret Service determines when it’s safe to fly “Marine One“: when President of the U.S. travels aboard the VH-3D or any other chopper operated by HMX-1, the helicopter uses the radio callsign “Marine One” by which the aircraft is known). Paris was covered in clouds with drizzling rain through most of Saturday.
President Trump was probably supposed to travel in one of the “White Tops” (VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns) that fly the President and accompanying VIPs at home and abroad as part of the Executive Flight Detachment. Usually, at least two or three “Green Tops” Ospreys accompany “Marine One”. The tilt-rotor aircraft fly also the Secret Service agents that follow “Marine One” and take care of its valuable passengers in case the helicopter goes down due to a failure.
The helicopters, based at Quantico, Virginia, south of Washington DC but often operating out of an alert facility at Naval Support Facility Anacostia, in DC, much closer to the White House than Quantico, are transferred to the place where POTUS will stay, ahead of his visit, in C-17 cargo aircraft.
Even though some of the HMX-1 helicopters, especially the legendary VH-3Ds are quite old, they have been regularly upgraded and they are equipped with cutting edge avionics, communication system and self-defenses. We don’t know at what time the White House and Secret Services staff canceled the trip so we can’t be sure of the real (and forecasted) weather conditions along the route. Surely, regardless to whether the aircraft is carrying the POTUS, a VIP or someone else, weather conditions including fog, rain, low ceiling and wind, along with the terrain characteristics, airspaces, etc. must be taken into proper consideration when planning a low altitude trip. And they may lead to cancellations.
Here below you can find an interesting thread that provides some insights into the way POTUS trips are planned. Indeed, there should always be a backup plan for the world’s most important Head of State.
. @brhodes said there is “always” a backup plan for Potus bad weather travel. I just spoke with someone familiar with GWBush’s travel. He agreed with Ben. Quick thread to shed a bit more light on typical WH protocols. 1/ https://t.co/nIC1kq4XJt
— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) November 10, 2018
H/T to our close friend @CivMilAir for the heads up!