Saturday, June 1, 2019

Marine One - Treated Like a Redheaded Stepchild

To point out the contrasts between Air Force 1 and even "The Beast" (schematics of either easily looked up)  about the only thing we, the general public, know about this helicopter is that it lands on the South Lawn of the White House.   Countless photos of it being used somewhat like Uber - sitting President strides across the lawn towards it; halts at the boarding steps for some last minute quotes, reporters and cameras move on, President gets on and show's over.  Or reverse.

The second moment with Marine One is the outgoing president waving (he with a hand; she with a tear-stained lace handkerchief) as they are transported to Edwards AFB for their last ride in what was once AF1 but is now designated AF2 for their ride home.  

In an effort to be fair, this is what I discovered of interest to us.  The first President to use a helicopter was Dwight Eisenhower in 1957.  Why a helicopter instead of AF1 to flit back and forth to his Pennsylvania home?  No landing strip at the house or near enough to make it practical so AF1 stayed in the hangar.  Ike was quite used to a helicopter for transport.  In 1958 the South Lawn went into service.

In March, 2009, for the first time a crew of women only flew off with then-President Obama.  It was the final flight for Major Jennifer Griever who moved in rank to Lt. Col. when she was downgraded due to a domestic disturbance, fined $500, and left age 45 after 28 years' service.

In 2008 $6.1 billion was earmarked for 28 new helicopters, but the price quickly went up to $11.2 billion.  One was the "civilian" version with bathroom, executive suite and galley.  The military version stepped up defense and communication systems.

Today the pilots wear Marine Blue Dress Bravo uniforms; not the flight suits previously used.  The flight crew includes pilot, co-pilot and two flight engineers.

If  Marine One is going farther than Andrews or Camp David, it has a five helicopter escort and all six of them rotate around in flight so that no one on the ground knows which one the President's butt is sitting on.

That's quite an entourage - and Marine One, you've earned it!  Hope this little salute makes you feel better.

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