Sunday, January 4, 2009

Transition to Power: Obama flying 'Air Force One' backup - CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry

In a sign of just how close he is to formally taking the reigns of power, President-elect Barack Obama is no longer flying commercial.

Reporters arriving at Midway Airport for Mr. Obama's afternoon flight to Washington were greeted by an Air Force 757 with a crew wearing jackets that say "Air Force One" in script on the front.

Obama aides say this is the first time as President-elect that he is flying a military jet that is in the rotation to be used as Air Force One, though it is technically never called "Air Force One" unless the current president is flying on it.

The transition team chartered a plane from United Airlines for the President-elect's recent holiday vacation to Hawaii, so Sunday's flight marks yet another sign of the transfer of power.

Layne Hoppman, an Air Force security official, said the plane Mr. Obama is flying Sunday is used as Air Force One when one of the two planes currently at President Bush's disposal is in service.

He noted that the plane, which was rolled out around 1998, is also occasionally used by the sitting Vice President, First Lady, Members of Congress or military officials using Andrews Air Force Base.


President-elect Barack Obama is now flying a U.S. military 757 like the one pictured above.

President-elect Barack Obama is now flying a U.S. military 757 like the one pictured above.

"It's the workhorse of Andrews," said Hoppman.

Now it has another distinction: carrying the President-elect for his official move to Washington just over two weeks before his historic swearing-in.

As for Mr. Obama, from here on out he doesn't have to worry about taking off his shoes at security lines or missing his connections — at least for the next four years.

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