Presidential plane crew spends some time training at the Eagle County airport
GYPSUM — The plane the president sometimes rides in has the presidential seal on its seat belt buckles.
We thought you’d want to know.
Yes, that was Air Force One or Air Force Two or something similar parked at the Eagle County Regional Airport recently.
No one really important was in town, unless you count the U.S. Air Force crew that flies the plane.
The Boeing 757 parked at the Vail Valley Jet Center last weekend is staffed by a crew on training missions for future VIP visits, said airport manager Alex Everman.
President Donald Trump was not here, nor was Vice President Mike Pence, at least not last weekend.
There will be upcoming missions, and the crew wants to become familiar with the altitude, the approach, the departure and the lay of the land at the airport.
Also, it’s not actually Air Force One unless the president is on board. It’s not Air Force Two unless the vice president is on board, Everman said.
Air Force One is not a plane; it’s a call sign the Air Force uses when the boss — and we don’t mean Bruce Springsteen — is on board.
Still, it’s a really amazing aircraft, a Boeing 757 with security and communication gadgets installed.
And here are a couple more tidbits you can use to dazzle your friends: The president rarely, if ever, flies aboard a 757. Security requires four engines. As you can plainly see, this 757 has two. There are two Boeing 747s used for presidential travel. The 757s are used largely for officials such as the secretary of State.
Not a luxury liner
It’s not as tricked out as you might think.
We asked if the Air Fore crew could show us around the inside of the plane.
They smiled and said — and this is one of those happy taxpayer moments — “Sure!”
Campers should note, when you climb those stairs, you feel downright presidential for a few moments, standing at the top with all of those high-tech SUVs poised at the bottom. You’ll even find yourself waving to an imaginary but adoring crowd below.
As taxpayers, you’ll be happy to learn that the Boeing 757 is not adorned with wood or brass or anything else you might see in the movies. The modifications favor function over form.
We’d show you, but the Air Force crew wisely took our cameras and cell phones away before they let us on board. There’s secret stuff in there.
About the only adornment is the presidential seal on the seat belt buckles.
There are several seats for Secret Service agents.
In the middle is what one should call the Winged White House. It’s a compartment for the president, or vice president or VIPs traveling with staffers.
While that compartment isn’t exactly economy class, it’s pretty no-frills. The seats recline, the couch folds down into a bed and there are a few more of those presidential seal seatbelt buckles. Seatbelt buckles remind us that we are a nation of laws, and even the president has to buckle up.
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