— -- The proud aircraft known 'round the globe as Air Force One never ceases to impress. Especially on this brilliantly sunny day as I board for the last time. President Obama is heading to a summit in Europe one week before I retire.
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As White House correspondent across seven presidencies and an amazing arc of history I feel more nostalgic about a final ride on Air Force One than any other perk that the White House press enjoys. Its cabins and crew are as comfortable as home to me.
There are actually twin 747s which fly as Air Force One when the president is aboard. I was on the first presidential flight when the plane with tail number 28000 was delivered. It arrived too late to carry the Reagans from Washington home to California the day of the Bush 41 Inaugural. I was the TV pooler when George H.W. Bush took his first ride and he showed me around his personal cabin in the nose of the 747, with sofas that made up as twin beds beneath the little airline windows.
President Bush also showed off the remarkable bathroom with twin oval sinks and a real shower stall, but warned I could not take pictures of him wearing the fuzzy brown slippers that had been made for him, with the presidential seal stitched on each toe.
The press cabin with 12 large first class seats is in the rear of the plane, and my view has been the same for decades – looking out toward the starboard wing and engines, and a clear view of oceans and mountains and global wonders. I took this in 2009 flying out of Istanbul Turkey.