So, I think we all know the Air Force One landing or takeoff question and many of us are having fun on it. I think this issue will come up sooner or later, so let me start:

Should we close this question?

It appears that, many of us are having fun with it, despite the best effort of the community (we've gone to dig out airport charts and even satellite images), a definitive answer cannot be reached. Moreover, there is no way to verify whether an answer is correct as it is lost in memory. It is slowly turning into a debate which no one can win over.

Side note: I think we should mark the question as protected for the time being, that's a no brainer.

  • $\begingroup$ While I agree with the two existing answers (nothing wrong in it), it was also a good idea to ask, as this is an opportunity to discuss what are the rules, and what latitude we have to use them. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ I think the better question is - have you seen how much it's been upvoted???? That's a lot of rep for a question asking if a plane is taking off! $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 11:17

2 Answers 2


I believe the original question, that is, "Is there anything visible in the airplane's configuration that would indicate if this is arrival or departure?" is a completely legitimate question.

The one clear, non-subjective answer would be "No, there is not. Takeoff and Landing configurations are so similar that it is impossible to tell from a still photo."

So I do not consider the question primarily opinion based, and would like to see it stay open.

  • $\begingroup$ I would too since, you know, that's essentially what I said in my answer...To be clear, I edited my answer a few hours ago to read that way. Initially I was in the "it's taking off" camp. But I abandoned that as it become clear there was no way to draw a firm conclusion. $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:44

I want to remind everyone that we aren't actually required to be strict about the rules if, as a community, we don't want to be. There are many communities on SE that are very lax with the rules, simply because it's what fits their format the best.

Personally, over the three yeas I've been here, I've noticed that every now and again this community likes to cut lose, and a silly post is allowed to stay. Thus I would contend we are, within reason, allowed to have a little fun here and there.

Remember, the strict rules we see around Stack Exchange were mostly developed for Stack Overflow. On that site, it's entirely warranted. The community is huge, and the topic is (for most folks who use it) work related. People are required to stay serious because that is the nature of that site.

Further, I would point out that (as of this writing) the question has not gotten a single close vote. So it seems pretty clear that the community (so far) is okay with this particular piece of fun. I like to think our community is pretty good at self regulation in that regard and that if things like this happened repeatedly, we'd see votes to close...

But on this occasion, I, and I believe the community, think being silly on this one is just fine ;).

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Currently (10 answers) the score is 3x take-off, 5x landing, and 2 abstentions. If that doesn't look opinion-based then I don't know. But I like the question and would prefer to keep it, but keep it protected. In an entertaining way it shows that nobody can tell for sure what actually happened that day. And I totally agree with you: some fun now and then does no harm. Thanks for your comparison to SO, it's so true. $\endgroup$
    – PerlDuck
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @PerlDuck Totally agree. It's fun, and there is actually some great utility to it in the sense that, as you point out, it shows some things are more difficult to figure out that you might assume... $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:46

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