NASA to fly low over Baltimore-Washington area


A misguided photo shoot of Air Force One over New York City in 2009 terrified residents, infuriated the president, and cost the director of the White House Military Office his job. Now, NASA is working to prevent a similar panic in Washington D.C.

NASA officials this week announced plans for a new mission to monitor air pollution in the Baltimore-Washington traffic corridor that will include a series of low-altitude flights between the two cities. Trying to prevent a repeat of the chaos raised in New York, they are eager to get the word out to the public.

Michael Finneran, spokesman for the DISCOVER-AQ project, says that NASA is publicizing the flights to generate awareness and to make sure people "won't be surprised." "Public safety is paramount," he said.

NASA plans to use a P-3B, a 117-foot, four-engine turboprop plane, for flights that will be as low as 1,000 feet. The lower of the two aircraft will fly in spirals over several ground measurement stations along the flight path, which includes Interstate 95 and crosses over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

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