The nose of Air Force One
Air Force One parked at the Palm Springs International Airport

Wouldn't you like to get out of Washington, DC?

| President Obama seems to use any excuse to leave our nation's capital. Who wouldn't?

Air Force One touched down last night around seven o'clock bearing the president to meetings with King Abdullah of Jordan at Sunnylands, the Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage.

It was a rather majestic scene with spotlights on the big American flag on the tail as it taxied.

The plane never goes to an airport terminal itself, rather parks on the tarmac away from people and planes. It was slightly embarassing that the driver of the mobile stairway couldn't seem to get lined up properly with the side of the plane, and there were multiple to-and-fro attempts, guided by a plane officer standing in the open doorway using hand gestures to indicate direction and remaining distance.

The reporter from KMIR, covering the arrival, was clearly uncomfortable having to extemporize while waiting for the president to appear. After he descended the stairs, greeted local dignitaries briefly, and hopped into his limo, the field reporter was reduced to asking a spectator how long he had been at the airport (since 10:30am) and could only say, "There you have it."

When they tried to shift to a live shot at the entrance to the Annenberg estate, the transmission lasted about 20 seconds before failing. "We now return to programming in progress."

street closed signs
Long shot across empty parking lot
Long shot across an unused parking lot.
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It occurred to me that it would be fun to drive into Palm Springs and see the plane. That was easier said than done. All of the streets that would allow you to get near the airport without going in the airport were blocked.

In the end, I parked in the terminal parking lot and got to a point overlooking the plane.

There were no visible guards at the plane but I suspect they would have materialized quickly had anyone tried to approach it. Mostly people just wanted to snap a picture and leave. It is just a plane after all. But a lovely plane it is.

side view of Air Force One

The Annenberg estate has been used many times by presidents for meetings. The grounds are immense (more than a square mile, it has its own 9-hole golf course) and walled, making it relatively easy to establish security perimeters around the president.

A note about that golf course: when Annenberg built a home here in the desert, he found that he was not allowed to play on any of the existing golf courses, being Jewish you see, so he built his own. So there!

By the time he died in 2002 at the age of 94, Annenberg had given more than $2 billion to various foundations and institutions.

Last updated on Apr 29, 2016

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