President Trump took his first flight aboard Air Force One Thursday, a short trip to Philadelphia to speak at the annual congressional Republican retreat, while Vice President Mike Pence took an earlier flight on Air Force Two to the same destination.
The president allowed journalists into his cabin at the end of the trip to take photographs of him sitting at his desk, and pronounced the plane “beautiful.”
“Great plane,” Mr. Trump said, with a dark blue Air Force One flight jacket bearing the presidential seal slung over the back of his chair.
Asked how it compared to his private jet, Mr. Trump said, “That’s a good one too but this is a very special plane for a lot of reasons.”
Mr. Trump started the trip by flying on the presidential helicopter, Marine One, from the South Lawn of the White House to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where the presidential aircraft is based.
The president was escorted by an Air Force officer to the plane, saluted the Air Force guards and boarded the aircraft without turning back to wave. He was joined on the fight by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, senior strategist Stephen Bannon, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, strategic communications director Hope Hicks, presidential assistant Keith Schiller and White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Mr. Spicer said the president is “in awe of the splendor of this plane and what the White House represents.”
Mrs. Conway chatted with reporters in the press cabin before take-off, noting that she had flown on Air Force One once previously as a guest of then-President George W. Bush.
“It feels different this time,” she said, adding with a chuckle, “that’s not an anti-Bush statement.”
Earlier Thursday, Mr. Pence took his maiden flight aboard Air Force Two, also traveling to Philadelphia for the GOP conference.
With him were second lady Karen Pence, chief of staff Josh Pitcock and press secretary Marc Lotter.