At the foot of the stairs, the Duke had to empty his pockets and the Duchess had to surrender her purse, umbrella, and camera. Knowing they had weapons pointed at them made the Duchess very uneasy. A Secret Service Agent then made them stand with their arms out and legs apart while he passed a wand over them to check for any metal. The Duchess blushed, and the crowd looked on.
Finally, the real tour began. Up the stairs and into the flying “White House”. The Duchess was speechless. (Believe me, that doesn’t happen often!) In fact, the whole thing became a blur. The thing she remembers most clearly is the President and Mrs. Bush’s bedroom. It was so personal and private. There was a flight jacket tossed casually over the arm of a chair, personal toiletries, etc. The Duchess felt they should not be there, it was so personal.
She also remembers the cockpit. When you enter a normal airplane, you have the cockpit on the left, a small galley straight ahead, and the first class section to your right. Add all of these together, then add some more, and you have the cockpit on Air Force One. There are many people involved in the flight operations of AF1, not just the pilot and co-pilot. The Duchess recalls wondering how anyone could possibly learn what all those knobs and switches were for! Another thing that delighted the Duchess were the telephones. Almost everywhere you looked were telephones. A white phone and a beige phone, side by side. One for casual calls, the other for encrypted confidential conversations.
The Duke and Duchess were each given an envelope with items in it from the plane. The onboard snack during the Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. administrations was M&M’s. Only Clinton had his signature on the box though. (The Duchess says he was a bit “full of himself”). The Reagan administration served jelly beans, while Carter served peanuts, of course.
One of the items in the envelope was a small booklet with the President’s complete itinerary for the Portland trip. (And I mean COMPLETE, right down to jogging with Vice President Al Gore).
Also included was a small booklet about the plane. Here are some of the more interesting pages. (I hope you can see them. I don't know why you can click on some pictures to enlarge them and others you can't. But, after spending hours trying to get it to work, we finally gave up.)
Drapes! On a plane!
More to come tomorrow!