One of the top trending topics on Twitter this afternoon was Marine One. The spike in interest in the presidential helicopters was due to some heavy flight traffic by them around the Vice President’s Residence at the Naval Observatory, which is located about three miles to the northwest of the White House. The movements were so noticeable that NBC’s Michael Benboss tweeted about it, which catapulted the Twittersphere into wild theory and conspiracy manufacturing mode. Considering the unprecedented events of the last week on Capitol Hill, this is hardly surprising. So, I wrote a tweet thread on the topic that tried to explain what folks were seeing. Although the explanations are far less entertaining than what some may hope, many seemed to appreciate the commentary and background, so I thought I would adapt it and do a formal post on the matter.
There are two major possibilities here to point out, and both of them being accurate simultaneously is actually more probable than not. Keep in mind that none of this is definitive, but it should go a long way in helping to explain what folks were likely seeing, and calm some nerves in the process. . .
Very noisy helicopters flying around Vice President’s residence — what is going on? pic.twitter.com/XPs1A3px7m
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) January 11, 2021
Let me take a stab at this after years of reporting on Marine One, HMX-1, Continuity of Government, etc. None of this is definitive, but it could help explain what folks are seeing:
1.) HMX-1, which flies the VH-3D and VH-60N 'White Top' helicopters used to move… 1/X https://t.co/HYRbSsT0o7
— Tyler Rogoway (@Aviation_Intel) January 11, 2021
Part of HMX-1’s role in COG operations includes quickly snatching POTUS and the VP and whisking them away to highly secure remote facilities were a major threat to emerge. This highly challenging action has to occur in a manner of minutes. This is partially why HMX-1 has a heavily guarded forward operating location at Naval Support Facility Anacostia, which is located just three miles from the White House. The unit is otherwise based 30 miles south of the Capital in Quantico, Virginia. With all this in mind, practice is important, especially considering the state of play in the Capital at this time. In fact, one could argue it is more critical now than at any time in recent memory. . .
The practice of primarily using the motorcade to get the Vice President where he needs to go, and especially from his residence to the White House and the Old Executive Building, is among the most obvious security changes that should happen, and we can only hope that it has. The alternative to the motorcade’s armored vehicle procession is using HMX-1’s White Tops. This would result in a sudden spike in helicopter activity at the Vice President’s residence. It may demand some additional training for HMX-1 crews in order to support the new transportation regime over the coming days. (Read more from “Why Marine One Was Making All That Commotion Near the Vice President’s Residence” HERE)
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