Sun, Apr 01, 2012
First Lesson In AF1 Ends In Runway Excursion
ANN April 1st Special Edition
Saying that he needed to see what all those pilots were "fussing about" when it comes to user fees, President Barack Obama has begun taking flying lessons, with AF1 as his primary trainer.
"Start at the top ... that what I always say," Obama said in an April 1st news release. "Look, I went from community organizer to U.S. Senator to POTUS in about a week and a half. I can certainly learn to fly in a 747. Those systems are so highly automated that it just doesn't seem like it would be that difficult."
But the President found out that the big Boeing was a bit more challenging that he had originally thought. On his first landing, he overshot the runway at Joint Base Andrews causing some damage to the landing gear of the airplane. While most students look at a cost of a couple of hundred dollars per hour for their primary instruction, flying Air Force One around the patch a couple of times reportedly costs the U.S. taxpayer about $182,000 per hour, and the damage to the airplane boosted the cost for the lesson to about $1.3 million.
Still, President Obama says he will continue to learn to fly what has been referred to as his personal business jet. "I have to be able to understand how the average pilot interacts with NextGen, and why they're so upset about that measly $100 user fee," he said. "I will personally pay $100 every time I take a lesson, and for all my solo flights as well. Eventually, I'll be able to fly the plane myself on both diplomatic missions and campaign swings, saving the taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars that would have been paid to the Air Force One pilots as part of my overall plan to reduce the debt and balance the budget."
But the President isn't the only government official hoping to get pilot credentials. New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer (pictured) slipped an unnoticed amendment into the recently-passed FAA reauthorization bill which will allow him to learn to fly helicopters. "I know, everybody thinks I hate helicopters ... but that's really just a ruse to get people who don't like them to vote for me. It's politics," Schumer said. "There may not be more people who dislike helicopters than like them, but they sure are loud and it makes for great sound bites and photo ops. Besides, if we can get all these onerous regulations passed, then the only helicopters flying will be government helicopters, and that'll clear up a lot of airspace to allow me to get where I need to go without all those other pesky aircraft."
Schumer has not picked a flight school yet. His office said every flight school they've contacted has amazingly been all booked up until the end of his term.
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