Move over Trump Force One, the president has a new ride.
President Trump made his maiden voyage on Air Force One on Thursday and found a lot to like. Touching down at Joint Base Andrews after a quick jaunt to Philadelphia for the Republican caucus retreat, Trump told reporters in his office cabin that the iconic presidential jet compared favorably to the personal plane he has used for years.
“That’s a good one, too, but this is a very special plane for a lot of reasons,” Trump said. In classic Trumpian fashion, the president added a few adjectives to describe it: “Beautiful, a great plane, terrific.”
There was no special ceremony as the president boarded the plane in late morning, and he showed he's still getting used to the customs that come with his new office. He remembered to salute the airmen standing at attention at the bottom of the stairwell to the front entrance, but after getting to the top of the steps he just kept on going — forgetting to turn and wave goodbye to onlookers and the traveling White House press corps assembled below.
Aides appeared giddy. Press secretary Sean Spicer took photos of the press and staff boarding the plane; Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway ventured to the press cabin at the back of the plane and said that, although she had once flown on Air Force One as a guest of President George W. Bush, “it feels different this time.”
With a chuckle, Conway added: “That's not an anti-Bush statement.”
Then the customized Boeing 747, painted in the distinctive light blue and gold color scheme, rumbled down the runway and took flight — a bumpy 40-minute ride through windy skies. Inside the plane, there were signs that the crew was still adjusting to the newest occupant. They did not yet have Trump-signed boxes of White House M&M's, passing out boxes without a signature.
Disembarking in Philadelphia, Trump made up for his earlier miscue, looking directly at the cameras and offering a wave.
Trump said he met the captain of the plane, and the crew presented him a navy flight jacket with an Air Force One insignia, which was draped over the chair in his office as he sat behind his desk in shirt sleeves.
Back at Joint Base Andrews after the trip, Trump disembarked from the plane, but he did not go back to Marine One to return to the White House. Instead he took a detour and walked briskly toward a small group of onlookers watching from behind a chain-link fence. Secret Service agents surrounded Trump as he shook hands and greeted the crowd before turning and walking to his helicopter.