by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Could this be Gibraltar’s airport? My husband and I went there in 2001. It was a "roots" trip: my paternal grandparents were born in Gibraltar and we hoped to get more info. The clerk at the government office that handles birth records suggested that we see if someone at a nearby church could help us, which turned out to be excellent advice. The church archivist went through book after book of records, constructing a family tree that went back seven generations. It was thrilling! We left Gibraltar on 9/8/01 and drove to Seville, a gorgeous city. And three days later, we turned on CNN in our hotel room and watched the Twin Towers collapse. We flew to Madrid and were so distracted that a pickpocket was able to remove my wallet on the elevator trip to our room in the Westin Hotel. Whether or not this photo is Gibraltar, you brought back memories of the most emotional vacation we ever had.
I'm a longtime Dish reader, but never played this game. That's got to be somewhere on Andrews Air Force base in Suitland, Maryland. I think that 747 parked on the runway there is Air Force 1, no?
Airport, river, bridge, mountains, Air Force Friggin' One. So many clues and yet I could not positively identify the VFYW. This week's contest was maddening. I'm going with Burlington. I searched google maps for hours, looking at Tulsa, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Dayton, and Burlington. I though Burlington was the closest, but I still think I'm wrong. But hey, I guessed Puerta Vallarta and I got that right.
This is my first time entering VFYW but I think I got it. Seeing Air Force One and using the White House schedule, I narrowed the possibilities to Burlington, VT or Portland, ME. Since Portland doesn't appear to have mountains in the background of the airport, I will guess this is the Burlington Air National Guard Base. The attached map (couldn't figure out how to drop it in!) shows the closest view I could get since street view isn't allowed on a military base. So here's to guessing!
I believe this is Air Force One having landed at the military air base side of Galeao international airport in Rio de Janeiro, most likely during President Obama's visit in March 2011.
Ramstein Air Force Base, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. The buildings look identical to those at Ramstein, and only at an Air Force Base would you see the airfield so close to such buildings. My guess is that this picture was taken from the Tower and that it was taken during the President's trip there in 2009.
This could be Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Why? I used to live in SW Germany. The hills look a lot like it. Air Force One on the runway without lots of guarding vehicles. Green painted trucks on the parking lot on left center picture. So it should be a secured US Air Base. The buildings in the front look like standard issue Army barracks. Ramstein is located in high hill country in SW Germany (see background) with seasonal moderate climate tree vegetation. Looks like fall or winter colors on the trees on the hills. Spring comes late to the German high country.
Another nails it:
I have been teaching English in South Korea for the past two years, and was waiting for a Korean VFYW!
Like every picture taken outside of Seoul, there are mountains in the background. The trees have yet to blossom due to our drawn-out winter. President Obama was just in town. Osan Air base. Pyeongtaek, Songtan-dong, South Korea. Final answer.
An aerial view from a reader:
Being raised an Air Force brat the monochromatic buildings immediately made me think air force base. Air Force one, winter-bared trees, hills, and river locate near runway made me think of Osan, though I was only there once on a stop over returning from Thailand during the Vietnam war.
I wonder how many military readers your blog has but count me among them. The view is from one of the residential towers on Osan Airbase looking out over the Turumi Lodge transient quarters toward the runway, probably from the 8th or 9th floor, as the apartment block is up on a hill. I’ve spent many nights in the Turumi while deployed to the Air Operations Center supporting various Seventh Air Force exercises, and many lost evenings in Songtan just outside the gate. Could probably pinpoint the exact date that Air Force One was there but I’m busy on shift at Kandahar AB right now.
Because the White House helpfully lists the places the President has visited, including airports, it wasn't too hard to determine that the photo was taken at the Osan Air Base in South Korea. And I'm pretty sure the photo was taken from one of three high-rise apartment buildings: Seoraksan Tower, Hallsan Tower, or Jirisan Tower. I attached a screenshot shows the building from which the photo was taken, with the arrow pointing toward the apron where Air Force One was parked. But I couldn't figure out the building's name or address. My guess is that the photo was taken from an apartment on the 7th floor of the west (or south-west) wing of the building.
Another sent the above image, of the Hallsan Tower. Another gets the right building:
Apparently information about U.S. military bases – including buildings, street names and the like – are hard to find online, especially when the base is located near a hostile country. That makes sense, I guess, but it cost me a couple extra hours to finally figure this out. Using the Google Maps view of Osan Air Base, I identified the buildings in the foreground (the gazebo helped), and the area where Air Force One was parked. I then needed to find a high-rise building that was positioned just right to make that shot possible. The Osan Air Base website mentions three military housing towers, Hallasan, Seoraksan and Jirisan. I couldn't find anything on Seoraksan, so I moved on. After spending way too much time locating the other two towers, I decided against Hallasan, as the angle didn't work. So I'm going with the Jirisan Tower. I believe the photo was taken in the western-most wing of Jirisan Tower. I'm going with the 10th floor (the top), though it could be the 8th or 9th floor too.
This was simple to track down with Air Force One sitting on the ramp, as president Obama attended the Seoul nuclear summit late last month. The photo was taken from the balcony of the Jirisan Tower Family Housing at Osan Air Base, Korea. Here's a video of the ribbon cutting ceremony, provided by Armed Forces Network (AFN).
I spent many years in Europe working with the military. Few Americans realize the extent of the infrastructure provided to American service members and their families. Housing, restaurants, movie theaters, hospitals, shopping centers, and athletic facilities abound. You really don't have to leave the base to keep yourself entertained.
Another creates an impressive animated GIF, a VFYW first. Another reader:
I’ll probably lose to someone who has lived in the building and knows the numbering system. But no matter. My hat’s off to the photographer and other service members and their families serving in South Korea and around the world, never knowing when a nut job like North Korea will shatter the peace, but standing ready on our behalf, just in case.
It was especially difficult this week to break the tie, but the prize goes to the reader who has gotten several difficult views in the past without quite winning:
I suspect this is going to be another battle for the exact window; Air Force One is a mighty big clue! So … this looks like a military base rather than a commercial airport. A scan of the President's schedule on the White House website shows that, sure enough, he was at Osan Air Base near Seoul during his recent trip to South Korea. A Google Earth satellite image reveals a lot of rust-colored roofs like the ones in the photo. I used the bridge in the background to orient myself and soon found the general location on the base from which the photo was taken. After a bit more snooping, I was able to find the foreground building with the courtyard. The courtyard building has three chimneys or vents on top that line up with more distant points that I was able to identify on the Google satellite image. When I drew these sight lines, they converged at what appears to be a base housing tower. This turns out to be the recently-built Jirisan Tower. I believe the photo was taken from the tenth floor, north-facing balcony in the west arm of the tower.
I've now correctly guessed or gotten close to (off by one floor last week!) several of these windows. Maybe this will be my week!
Tis. One more entry for posterity:
As soon as I saw the mountains, I thought Korea. I lived there for many years. The American buildings gave pause, until I recognized Air Force One and remembered Obama's recent summit in Seoul. A retired Air Force colonel in my graduate program confirmed that this is Osan Base in Pyeongtaek. No time to locate the exact building, so I'm probably out of the the running. Still, I've wanted to submit the attached photo for a long time and here's the chance. In the '70s many Korean miners and nurses emigrated to West Germany. Many are choosing to retire in their homeland, and this is the "German Village" they are building on Namhae Island (Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea).