FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

US Denies French Fighters Emergency Landing Rights

 

Talk about fair-weather friends!

When nine French fighter jets and a weather plane from a French carrier taking part in a joint exercise with Canadian Naval forces in the Atlantic off New Jersey ran perilously low on fuel last Friday because of a freak storm that prevented them from returning to their ship, they figured, no problem. They weren’t too far from the U.S. mainland, and so they could just land at McGuire AF Base in southern New Jersey.

No dice, the Francophobe U.S. military told them. According to a State Department source, quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, they were denied landing rights at the facility.

Faced with the choice of ditching their planes or finding an alternative landing site, the French pilots, with the help of frantic State Department and Federal Aviation Administration officers, managed to arrange landing permission at the commercial airfield in Atlantic City, though this necessitated delaying and rerouting several commercial flights because of the number of planes that were coming in at once.

No national American media mentioned this stunning–and potentially life-threatening–breach of basic air etiquette by the U.S. military. And not for lack of knowing about it: many news organizations covered the whole thing as a humor item, focusing on the French pilots spending a night in the debauchery of America’s East Coast Vegas.

Even the Inquirer, which did report on the incident with at least a modicum of seriousness, failed to go to the Pentagon and ask the obvious question: Why were ten planes from a European ally denied emergency landing rights at a fully equipped and prepared U.S. Air Force base when they were in danger of crashing from lack of fuel? (I did make that call, and was referred to the media relations office at McGuire, where a spokeswoman denied that the French planes had been turned away-a direct contradiction of the story out of the State Department. She had no answer when asked whether the French pilots had requested permission to land at the airbase.)

It boggles the mind to think that this nail-biting incident could have been the result of Pentagon pique at France for having refused to go along with the Bush Iraq War plan, but one is hard-pressed to come up with an alternative explanation.

Even Soviet planes, at the height of the Cold War, weren’t turned away in emergencies.

And this was an ally.

At least the people of Atlantic City were gracious hosts to the plucky French pilots, reportedly offering them meals and hotel rooms.

One wonders what the American reaction would be if a French military airport turned away American pilots in similar circumstances-or what the French reaction would have been if the planes hadn’t made it safely to Atlantic City.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 24, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
A Letter From Iowa
Jim Kavanagh
Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Camp by the Lake
Chuck Churchill
The Long History of Elite Rule: What Will It Take To End It?
Robert Hunziker
A Climate Time Bomb With Trump’s Name Inscribed
Andrew Levine
Trump: The King
Jess Franklin
Globalizing the War on Indigenous People: Bolsonaro and Modi
James Graham
From Paris, With Tear Gas…
Rob Urie
Why the Primaries Matter
Dan Bacher
Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?
Ramzy Baroud
In the Name of “Israel’s Security”: Retreating US Gives Israel Billions More in Military Funding
Vijay Prashad
What the Right Wing in Latin America Means by Democracy Is Violence
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Biden’s Shameful Foreign Policy Record Extends Well Beyond Iraq
Louis Proyect
Isabel dos Santos and Africa’s Lumpen-Bourgeoisie
Nick Pemberton
AK-46: The Case Against Amy Klobuchar
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Promtheus’ Fire: Climate Change in the Time of Willful Ignorance
Linn Washington Jr.
Waiting for Justice in New Jersey
Ralph Nader
Pelosi’s Choice: Enough for Trump’s Impeachment but not going All Out for Removal
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Don’t Kill 72 Grizzly Bears So Cattle Can Graze on Public Lands
Joseph Natoli
Who’s Speaking?
Kavaljit Singh
The US-China Trade Deal is Mostly Symbolic
Cesar Chelala
The Coronavirus Serious Public Health Threat in China
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Must Remain Vigilant and on Guard Against US Hybrid Warfare
Robert Fantina
Impeachment as a Distraction
Courtney Bourgoin
What We Lose When We Lose Wildlife
Mark Ashwill
Why Constructive Criticism of the US is Not Anti-American
Daniel Warner
Charlie Chaplin and Truly Modern Times
Manuel Perez-Rocha
How NAFTA 2.0 Boosts Fossil Fuel Polluters, Particularly in Mexico
Dean Baker
What the Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace With Productivity
Mel Gurtov
India’s Failed Democracy
Thomas Knapp
US v. Sineneng-Smith: Does Immigration Law Trump Free Speech?
Winslow Myers
Turning Point: The new documentary “Coup 53”
Jeff Mackler
U.S. vs. Iran: Which Side are You On?
Sam Pizzigati
Braggadocio in the White House, Carcinogens in Our Neighborhoods
Christopher Brauchli
The Company Trump Keeps
Julian Vigo
Why Student Debt is a Human Rights Issue
Ramzy Baroud
These Chains Will Be Broken
Chris Wright
A Modest Proposal for Socialist Revolution
Thomas Barker
The Slow Death of European Social Democracy: How Corbynism Bucked the Trend
Nicky Reid
It’s Time to Bring the War Home Again
Michelle Valadez
Amy Klobuchar isn’t Green
David Swanson
CNN Poll: Sanders Is The Most Electable
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Dire Need for “Creative Extremists”—MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Jill Richardson
‘Little Women’ and the American Attitude Toward Poverty
David Yearsley
Watching Star Wars in Berlin
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail