SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --You think the TSA is difficult? Try covering a departure of Air Force One from San Francisco International Airport.
Generally, by the time a president leaves town, the news story has passed. But ABC7 News always covers departures anyway, just in case.
The sequence of photographs above shows the process.
ABC7 News checks in, gets a badge, and stands in a line after laying all our equipment out on the ground. The Secret Service and specially trained dogs give it a good inspection. Then, they search the cars and the cars' engine compartments.
Assuming no one has been found to be harboring bad intentions, everyone caravans onto the tarmac, passing cargo carrying planes, limousines, more Secret Service personnel, and honor guards. The authorities are pretty casual at this point, talking, texting, and some even yawning as they sit in armored vehicles.
In the meantime, the press takes its place on a rusty, raised platform overlooking the looming, pristine plane. The platform has never actually been used for any other purpose.
Then, the waiting begins. Everyone waits and take photos of themselves. And then they wait some more. The president is almost always late.
Everyone should take their cues on his arrival by checking the sharpshooters on nearby roofs. When they start looking and pointing, Marine One is on the way. When it lands, the Secret Service becomes the serious Secret Service.
The President leaves his chopper and marches across the tarmac, surrounded by Secret Service protection. Below the giant aircraft's wing, the National Press Corps documents every step as POTUS climbs the stairs turns, waves -- no one is sure who he is waving to -- and disappears.
Seconds later, the engines spool. Air Force One rolls directly to Runway 28R and with all other traffic on hold, it leaves without delay.
Some way to travel, huh?