From the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama embarked Thursday on his first trip aboard Air Force One, jetting off on a quick hop in hopes of pushing his economic rescue package through Congress.
The run to a House Democrats‘ retreat in Williamsburg, Va., is a telling choice for Obama’s first trip outside the Washington area.
“He’s saying that he’s willing to go anywhere and talk to anybody in order to get a recovery and reinvestment plan that moves this economy forward,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
For the short flight, Obama took the traditional blue-and-white 747, not one of the smaller jets that fill out the presidential fleet. Air Force One, with its history and distinctive markings, makes a statement — especially on the commander in chief’s maiden voyage.
On departing from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base, Obama broke from tradition as he boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, on the South Lawn. He seemed to stun the marine standing at attention by reaching out to shake his hand. The marine obliged, shaking the president’s hand before returning to a steady salute.
Some White House staff members slipped out of the West Wing to catch a glimpse of Obama’s first Marine One takeoff.
At the Air Force base, Obama climbed up the stairs and headed straight on the plane, with no wave to observers below. Gibbs said the president had enjoyed the chopper ride. “He said, `Pretty smooth,'” Gibbs said.
Before Thursday’s trip, Obama had been on a smaller jet that serves as a presidential plane, when he flew from Chicago to Washington in the days before his inauguration. But it was not known as Air Force One, as that designation applies to any plane the president is on.
As for other recent presidents, George W. Bush’s first flight as president may sound familiar. Two weeks after his swearing-in, and following the bitter 2000 recount battle, he went to a resort near Pittsburgh to talk to skeptical Democratic lawmakers. The subject was his tax cuts.
For Bill Clinton, the first flight was to Detroit for a televised town hall meeting, a format seized on during the 1992 campaign. Calling on the first questioner, Clinton said: “I suspect this is going to be about, well, ‘It’s the economy, stupid.'”
In 1989, Bush’s father, a former Navy pilot, took his first Air Force One trip as president to the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia. Long before his son’s notorious “Mission Accomplished” speech, Bush spoke on an aircraft carrier — about wasteful military spending.
Ronald Reagan, at 69 the oldest man to assume the presidency, took a more leisurely approach. His first out-of-town trip was by helicopter to a restful weekend at Camp David in Maryland. His maiden Air Force One trip was to California — and a restful weekend at his ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains.
Presidents invariably reveal their personality on board.
The garrulous Clinton would restlessly roam the jet, chatting with aides and reporters or sitting down to play hearts. The younger Bush usually stayed put up front and hardly ever saw the press compartment; aides had warned him offhand remarks there could cause trouble.
Obama Leaving The District For The First Time, RealClearPolitics