ORLANDO, Fla. — As he does on the road in his limo, President Obama has carte blanche in the skies aboard Air Force One, never waiting in line for takeoff and going the most direct and fastest route possible.
So reporters accompanying the president on his trip to south Florida on Thursday were perplexed when the president’s plane took about 1 hour 15 minutes to make a 200-mile trip between Miami and Orlando. Upon landing, reporters looked up commercial flight times and discovered a flight earlier that day took just 41 minutes.
What was the deal? And was it just a coincidence that the plane taxied on the runway right as the New York Knicks-Miami Heat game, which the president was watching during the flight, reached halftime?
Apparently, yes it was.
A source explained that Obama was running so far ahead of schedule that his motorcade could not arrive that early at his next event: a fundraiser at the home of NBA star Vince Carter, who had gathered a group of high-powered current and former NBA stars and executives who were in town for All-Star Weekend.
The source, who was not authorized to speak on the record about security matters, explained that had Obama landed early and remained on the tarmac, it would have caused disruptions to commercial air traffic.
Furthermore, Secret Service believes the president is safer waiting in the air than on the ground. So the flight remained in the air an extra 30-40 minutes.