When a U.S. President leaves the Oval Office, many aspects of their life change dramatically, but perhaps none as visibly as their mode of travel. Gone are the days of Air Force One, but what comes next? Do former presidents take to the skies in the same way as the average American? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of presidential air travel post-Oval Office.
The Private Jet Trend: A Glimpse into Luxury
Most former presidents opt for private jets when it comes to air travel. The reasons range from security concerns to simple convenience.
Donald Trump: “I have my own Boeing 757, which served me well even before my presidency. Why change what’s not broken?” Trump said in an interview.
Barack Obama: The former president was seen boarding Sir Richard Branson’s Falcon 900EX jet for a vacation. “It’s not just about comfort, it’s also about ensuring the safety of my family,” Obama noted.
The Exception: Jimmy Carter’s Humble Choices
Not all former presidents choose the path of luxury. Jimmy Carter, for instance, has been seen flying commercial.
Jimmy Carter: “I’ve always believed in living a modest life, and that doesn’t change just because I was President,” Carter stated during a Delta flight from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.
Financial Aspects: Who Foots the Bill?
The Former President’s Act (FPA) of 1958 allows for taxpayer-funded travel, but there are conditions and caps.
Annual Caps: $1 million per former president and $500,000 per spouse.
Conditions: Travel must be related to their role as a former president; leisure travel is not covered.
Security Measures: The Invisible Shield
Security is a significant concern, and all former presidents are entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection.
George W. Bush: “Security is a priority, even more so when you’ve been the leader of the free world,” Bush mentioned after an emergency landing due to smoke on board his private jet.
Did You Know?
- The only president to be unanimously elected was George Washington. He also refused to accept his presidential salary, which was $25,000 a year.
- Some presidents had unique relationships and affairs, including one with Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Audrey Hepburn, and many others.
- Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt refused to shoot a small bear cub, which led to the creation of the teddy bear.
- Some presidents faced medical challenges and even bizarre circumstances surrounding their deaths.
Interesting Facts Around Former Presidents Fly
First President on a Plane: Theodore Roosevelt was the first former U.S. President to fly in an airplane, although it was after his presidency. The flight took place in 1910, and Roosevelt described it as “the bulliest experience I ever had.”
Special Designations: While only the sitting president can use the term “Air Force One,” former presidents often fly on planes that are designated as “Executive One” or “Air Force Two” when they are on board.
Bill Clinton’s Unique Case: Former President Bill Clinton is known for his frequent use of private jets owned by wealthy friends and donors, a practice that has sometimes stirred controversy.
No More Secret Service: Richard Nixon is the only U.S. President to have declined Secret Service protection after leaving office, opting for a private security detail instead.
Like Father, Like Son: Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have been known to parachute out of planes, even in their post-presidential years. George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving.
Frequent Flyer Miles: Jimmy Carter isn’t just known for flying commercials; he and his wife Rosalynn are also known to collect frequent flyer miles, a rarity among former presidents.
Netflix and Fly: Barack Obama, who signed a deal with Netflix after his presidency, has been known to work on his Netflix projects while flying, turning the sky into his temporary office.
In summary, while it’s not impossible for a former President to fly commercial, it’s not the norm due to the logistical and security challenges involved.
While the majority of former presidents opt for private jets, there are exceptions like Jimmy Carter who reminds us that modesty and simplicity can also be virtues, even for those who once held the highest office in the land.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization.