Air Force One graffiti tagger admits to elaborate hoax

London
Source:
This story is sourced from Flight International
Subscribe today »


The video purporting to show graffiti artist Mark Ecko spray painting a tag onto the side of US Air Force One presidential transport Boeing 747-200B (VC-25A) has been identified by Flightglobal readers as an elaborate fake, leading the artist himself to issue a legal disclaimer.

The video purporting to show graffiti artist Mark Ecko spray painting a tag onto the side of US Air Force One presidential transport Boeing 747-200B (VC-25A) has been identified by Flightglobal readers as an elaborate fake, leading the artist himself to issue a legal disclaimer.

One reader emailed in to provide further details of the stunt. It is understood that the video was shot at San Bernardino airport (formerly Norton AFB) in Southern California.  Mechanics there leaked details of having painted an old 747 to look like one of the VC-25As. They were told it was for a commercial for a clothing company.

Eagle-eyed readers spotted several inconsistencies in the footage, which appeared on the internet site Stillfree.com yesterday in an apparent protest over erosions to freedom of speech in the USA.

Many readers spotted the lack of antennas on top of the aircraft in the film, which most readers conceded is a real airframe. The one used has only two standard VHF antennas, compared to the array of aerials on the presidential transport. “If you compare some photos of the two VC-25As and compare the antenna layout along the top of the fuselage aft of the upper deck, there are a significant number missing in the video,” says one such reader.

Looking at the nacelles, several correspondents observed that the engine cowling and the lower forward fuselage is painted in the wrong colour paint. Air Force One 747s use a blueish-grey, (Boeing Pantene 5071) and a darker blue for other areas (Pantene 5070) while the prop 747 used in the movie is a more standard grey.

Next, the natural metal rings at the intake lips are not in the right proportions as the ones on the Air Force One aircraft. Furthermore, the bare metal area on the fuselage just ahead of the wing is not highly polished as it is on Air Force One 747s.

A couple of even keener readers wrote in to point out that the engines are the old type of General Electric GE CF6-50E as opposed to the latest GE CF6-80C that are on the VC-25As.

Additionally, typographic experts say that the font used on the aircraft is also slightly wrong, due to different tracking used between characters of the all-capital Palatino. The Presidential Seal, which has changed subtly over the years, is also a different version to the one used currently by president George Bush.

Some graffiti experts have also written in to reveal that the tagging technique unmasks Ecko as a hoaxer. The character thickness and uniformity is apparently impossible to achieve with one pass of conventional spray paint cans in the 15sec it does in the clip. More likely, the tag was created using an industrial marker can, which contains around 1litre (2USPints, 3.2USFl.oz) of paint.

Most respondents in Flightglobal’s poll, thought the video to be a real breach of Presidential security that had been covered up. More likely is the fact that Ecko has a video game to promote and has access to Hollywood sound stages and post production techniques.

However, the final nail in the coffin for conspiracy theorists (and there are many), is the disclaimer added by Ecko himself on his website yesterday, which reads: “the video does not depict a real event. It is intended for the sole, limited and express purpose of entertainment and to induce you, the viewer of the video, to think critically about freedom of expression and speech and the government's responses to the same”.

Blog:
Read Flightglobal's online editor Justin Wastnage on how the Air Force One tagging story snowballed and what it means for traditional advertising media