Bush takes last Air Force One flight


Published: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 5:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 5:37 p.m.

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- President George W. Bush had to be reminded on Saturday that he was taking his last trip aboard Air Force One.

After Barack Obama is sworn into office on Jan. 20, Bush will fly again on the familiar blue-and-white presidential aircraft, but it won't be called Air Force One because he no longer will be the president.

"I don't think it had dawned on him that it was his last flight on Air Force One," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters on the plane as it returned to Washington from Norfolk, Va., where he commissioned the Navy's newest ship, the USS George H.W. Bush, named after his father.

After a reporter mentioned it, the president said, "You know, you're right," Perino said, adding that he was moved by the commissioning ceremony.

"His whole family is here and that's all that matters to him," she added.

Members of the Bush family and some of the president's friends, who attended the commissioning ceremony, shared the roughly 40-minute flight with Bush back to Washington.

After it returned to Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington in suburban Maryland, the Boeing 747, wet from rain, was towed into a hangar.

Once inside, Bush got off and spent about 25 minutes visiting privately with members of the Presidential Airlift Group.

First lady Laura Bush, their daughters, Barbara Bush and Jenna Hager, and her husband, Henry Hager, joined him in thanking the dozens of flight attendants, maintenance workers and others who handle everything from food to fuel for Air Force One.

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