For those traveling by plane from Buenos Aires yesterday, the hair-raising sight of a Boeing 757-200 performing an extremely low wing-down, gear-up pass probably wasn’t what they were expecting to see. The maneuver was performed by pilots flying “ARG 01,” a VVIP configured 757-200 which will be used to transport Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández.
Video of the aircraft undertaking the maneuver was captured by onlookers at Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. The Argentine Air Force 757-200 arrived at the airport at around 5:25 P.M. local time on May 25, having departed Miami International Airport earlier that day on its delivery flight.
As the various clips of the low-pass that have been circulating on social media show, the aircraft leveled off very low over runway 13, executing a missed approach, before making a very steep left bank. It then circled back around above the Río de la Plata before eventually landing.
Other views of the aircraft performing the flyby filmed from other angles give a good sense of just how low to the runway it was, which can be seen below.
Notably, ARG 01 boasts a distinctive custom livery, featuring the colors and “Sun of May” symbol seen on Argentina’s national flag.
It’s safe to say that the ‘energetic’ flyover has garnered mixed reactions. While many of the onlookers at the airport were clearly impressed to see the pilots perform the maneuver, others challenged the rationality behind it. @scottiebateman, an airline pilot active on Twitter, questioned why the performance was necessary, even if the relevant aviation safety authorities and the airport’s air traffic control were informed ahead of time.
Perhaps more significant in terms of safety concerns were the poor weather conditions at the airport during the aircraft’s arrival and subsequent flyby. Alongside the atmospheric conditions, others have pointed towards the size of the aircraft, as well as the stunt being performed at the end of a long ferry flight from the U.S., as other points of concern.
Of course, extremely low planned flyovers have occurred before at Argentina’s civil airports. The viral footage below, for example, shows a formation of an Aerolineas Argentinas (civil airline) 737, plus an Argentina Air Force Pampa jet trainer and a Learjet during the Century of Argentine Aviation celebration in 2007 at the Aeroparque in Buenos Aires.
The delivery of ARG 01 comes relatively quickly after it was purchased by Argentina for use as a Presidential transport aircraft. On April 13, C&L Aerospace announced it had completed the sale of the aircraft to the Secretary General of the Presidency of Argentina. As part of the deal, C&L took Argentina’s existing, albeit long-grounded Presidential Boeing 757 as a trade. The VVIP configured 757-200 seats up to 39 passengers and sports a master suite and two other bedrooms, the company notes. According to Aviacionline.com, the transaction also included a $25 million loan approved by the Argentine government to finance the acquisition over ten years.
Prior to its delivery to Argentina on May 25, ARG 01 was pre-positioned Miami on May 19, Aviacionline.com reports. Before that, it was prepared for its new role at Salina Regional Airport in Kansas.
The aircraft itself use to be registered N757AG. You can see just what it looks like inside in this photo tour.
Aerotime Hub reports that the aircraft belonged to a manufacturer of water toys for yachts for 20 years before being sold off.
Argentina had another presidential 757, known as “Tango 01,” that was delivered new in the mid 1990s. The aircraft has been parked for years as rehabilitation or replacement was debated. So, the arrival of “ARG 01” is a big deal as it restores the level of executive transport that had fallen off when Tango 01 stopped flying. Presidential luxury aircraft have been a point of political contention in Argentina though for many years, so not everyone is likely to be ecstatic about this ‘new’ 757’s arrival.
Boeing’s 757-200, which first flew in early 1982, is no stranger to VVIP or military service. Its short field performance, good range, relative economy, and generous cabin make it attractive for certain mission sets. The Mexican Air Force took delivery of a 757-200 in VVIP configuration as a presidential transport in 1987. The Royal New Zealand Air Force, moreover, operates two 757s in a multi-role transport capacity. In U.S. military service, C-32s – a specially configured version of the Boeing 757-200 – are designated special air mission (SAM) “distinguished visitor transport” aircraft, better known as “Air Force Two” when the vice president is onboard. They have frequently been used in the “Air Force One” role, too. USAF C-32Bs work in the special operations and emergency support roles, as well.