Image: Obama
Larry Downing  /  REUTERS
President Barack Obama prays before the beginning of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement exercises in Leamy Hall Auditorium in New London, Connecticut May 18, 2011. 
NBC News and news services
updated 5/18/2011 1:49:51 PM ET 2011-05-18T17:49:51

Pilots aboard Air Force One were forced to abort a landing at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut as the president traveled to the area ahead of commencement festivities at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

U.S. Air Force officials tell NBC News Air that the aborted landed was due to a "weather issue."

According to the officials, the plane was making its approach to Hartford when air traffic controllers ordered the pilot to "execute a go-around" because of a "storm line" that was moving through the area.

Air Force One completed the "go-around" without incident and landed approximately two minutes later than its scheduled arrival.

Standard "missed approach" procedure calls for pilots to climb back to 3,000 feet before making another landing attempt in coordination with air traffic controllers. 

The Weather Channel's John Desjardins believes that visibility, restricted by fog and low clouds, was the reason for the aborted landing, not precipitation.

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro says there was never any risk to the president. Reporters on the plane say they were not aware that the landing maneuver was happening.

Inclement weather also moved the graduation indoors to Leamy Hall, which could accommodate only half of the estimated 3,000 people slated to attend the ceremony. The rest of the attendees watched the ceremony on a big screen in another building.

The president's motorcade arrived at the Coast Guard Academy from the airport just after 11:30 a.m. ET.

Obama's Coast Guard Academy speech was his last commencement address of the season. He thanked cadets for their service and mentioned the recent death of Osama bin Laden.

"The hard work of protecting our country — the hard work goes on, securing our homeland and guarding our shores," the president told the graduating class of the smallest wing of the U.S. armed services.

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"Every American can be proud of our great military and intelligence personnel, who made sure the terrorist leader who attacked us on 9/11 will never threaten America again," Obama added.

The president traditionally speaks each year at commencement ceremonies for one of the military service academies. Obama addressed the U.S. Naval Academy's commencement in 2009, his first year in office, followed by the U.S. Military Academy's ceremony last year.

Many members of the Coast Guard graduating class responded to last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Some went to Honduras to help build a children's center and move two dozen orphans out of a government facility. Some also marched in Obama's inaugural parade.

NBC's Tom Costello and Jim Miklaszewski contributed to this report.

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