WITH PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN'S advance team flying overhead, my memories scrolled back to the 1980s when I flew several DV1 missions in support of POTUS. A Distinguished Visitor One Mission normally comes with additional screening of the aircrew and a well-maintained aircraft.
Updated 12 April 2023 after TippFM interview. (Transcript)
When scrolling back in my blog, I realised some of the earliest blog posts that I wrote about my Presidential Support flights were actually audio notes. Most of them are now gone because I stopped paying Audioboom for their storage space. Now I wonder if I kept originals in some of the removeable hard drives stored under the stairs in our home in Ireland. It's probably a worth the time to dive into those hard drives because it's much easier to produce them as Otter.ai transcripts for faster scanning in a headless CMS. But today, I made a Spreaker audio blog post.
I told Fran Curry on TippFM that the C-141 that I flew on Presidential Support missions was based in Charleston, South Carolina. Besides taking Presidential limos around the country, we also configured our aircraft with unique features. Sometimes the maintenance squadron loaded a comfort pallet before we departed. On other occasions, we fabricate field repairs.
On one mission, we pulled some of the aft-facing seats and replaced them with a wooden kitchen table that was attached to the floor with large bolts. The team aboard the aircraft used it to play cards while we crossed the Atlantic.
When I crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times every month, I carried supplies for American forces based in Europe and the Middle East. I got to see the sharp edge of the American sword while carrying troops or supporting cargo. On several occasions, I landed in remote locations that were well off the tourist maps. After dropping the cargo--tons of ammunition, medical supplies, perishable goods, and US Mail--we often flew home nearly empty. That meant we had space for people returning home on emergency leave.
When I flew with advance teams several months before the President or Vice President, I shared stories about how the C-141 Starlifter would normally be used to support US foreign policy around the world. The White House Advance Teams were much more talkative than the Secret Service agents. On one occasion, I know some of the aircrew banter with the White House contingent trickled back to Vice President George Bush because his office sent a thank-you note down our chain of command that came attached to an engraved invitation to visit the White House.
The heavy cargo aircraft supporting Joe Biden's trip to Ireland in 2023 are C-17 Globemasters. They sit on the same ramp I walked in Charleston in the 1980s. I wish I had planned to sit in a Dublin hotel bar to chat with those young pilots. I'm very curious to hear if they're enjoying the Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island as much as I did before they were born.