Farewell flight to the White House of former US presidents

Farewell flight to the White House of former US presidents 0

Farewell flight to the White House of former US presidents

US President Ronald Reagan said goodbye in 1989 before boarding the Marine One helicopter to leave office.

The Daily Beast news site has interviews with people traveling with former US presidents on the farewell flight.

Traditionally, the outgoing US president will welcome his successor at the White House.

`It was the last day of our administration and also the last day of the Iran hostage crisis,` Gerald Rafshoon, communications director for 39th US president Jimmy Carter, recalled.

`Finally, at 12:20, someone came and announced, ‘You should leave here because Mr. Reagan’s team is entering the White House,’`  Rafshoon said.

Failure to handle the kidnapping of 66 American hostages in Tehran, Iran, on November 4, 1979, was an important reason why Carter lost the election to Reagan in 1980. The hostages were released.

According to Rafshoon, Carter once said that the trip to Capitol Hill with Reagan was odd because while he was anxiously thinking about the hostage crisis, Reagan was telling jokes.

After the inauguration, the outgoing president was transported by helicopter to Joint Base Andrews to catch the flight back home.

`A few of us got on the helicopter to Andrews first. Mr. Carter wasn’t there yet. I remember we got on Air Force One and Hamilton called back to the Situation Room. The agent who answered said ‘I can’t give you information.

`It’s okay, we’re talking on the secure link of Air Force One,` Hamilton Jordan replied.

The other end of the line replied briefly: `Mr. Carter is no longer president and you cannot access this information.`

According to Jody Powell, Carter’s press secretary, the former US president was the last person to board the plane.

`We sat on the plane and celebrated because the American hostages were freed. But the atmosphere of sadness still prevailed. When he boarded the cabin, Mr. Carter knew what had happened so he gave us a victory sign.

Sad and happy at the same time

In the memories that president Reagan’s chief of staff Ken Duberstein still kept, the day Mr. Reagan parted ways with the White House, the weather was sunny and the sky was clear and blue.

`As is tradition, on the way to Andrews Air Force Base, outgoing presidents will fly around Washington to say goodbye to the city. We left the east steps of Capitol Hill. When the helicopter flew over the White House, President Reagan

`Everyone had mixed feelings of joy and sadness,` Duberstein said.

`Someone brought out cake and champagne. They all raised their glasses, not knowing what to say. One person shouted ‘Mr. President, mission accomplished,’` Fred Ryan, assistant to President Reagan, recalled.

Farewell flight to the White House of former US presidents

US President George W. Bush viewed Capitol Hill from inside a helicopter on January 20, 2009.

According to Jake Siewert, press secretary for President Bill Clinton, the day Mr. Clinton left the White House, the weather was extremely bad, with pouring rain.

`So the departure time is the most interesting,` Siewert shared.

`A crowd stood at Andrews Airport to bid us farewell. White House staff, the Cabinet, a few friends. Everything took place inside the hangar because it was raining heavily outside. Mr. Clinton gave a short speech

On the outgoing president’s last flight, reporters were also present to report the news.

`Everything that was not tightly sealed was taken away in the name of souvenirs. Notebooks, matchboxes, cigars, blankets, pillows, silverware, napkins, cups with the presidential seal on them,` DeFrank said.

According to Margaret Tutwiller, a former State Department spokeswoman who was on the farewell flight of George H.W.

`Air Force One had a big conference room and I remember we went there to sing together,` Tutwiller said.

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