Before last month’s U.N. General Assembly in New York, John F. Kennedy Airport counted almost 250 different “VIP” movements, according to a great story in the New York Times.
As you might expect, it’s not easy to coordinate that many flights, especially when many of the dignitaries arrived in New York on private planes and required a police escort to get to Manhattan. According to the story, “…Secret Service and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service provided varying levels of protection depending on the ‘threat perception.’” Some world leaders got the so-called “heavy weapons package.”
You might be surprised to know the airfield only shuts down for two people — the President and Vice President of the United States. And even then, it only shuts down for 15 minutes or less, according to the Times.
I think my favorite part of the story is this gem:
Some years can be more complicated than others. When Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended the General Assembly, he would have the pilots turn off their plane’s transponder as it approached the airport, causing it to disappear from the screen used in the command center to track aircraft, Lieutenant Lomonaco said. Or his plane would veer north away from the city “trying to be a little evasive” before landing, he added.