Much has been made of recent security lapses surrounding the President of the United States and his family. The modern presidency is a luxurious cage, and anyone with the funding and the fortitude to get elected must willingly climb inside for their own safety. We expect that the people surrounding the President will anticipate every possible threat and will act with integrity to head off a calamity.
But it used to be different. Example: today is the anniversary of the day in 1910 when another great landmark in the history of Presidential security occurred – in what appears to be a “what the hell” moment of exuberance, sitting president Teddy Roosevelt decides to let some guy take him up in a plane.
Really. And there’s video.
Imagine any other President deciding to do this while in office. In an age where we weld down the manhole covers so the chief executive’s motorcade can pass over them unmolested, letting the POTUS go for a joyride in some relatively new piece of technology is unthinkable.
Doing this cemented another milestone for T.R. – he became the first U.S. President to fly. And seeing him in the video as he climbs through the bracing wires between wings so he can settle, uncomfortably, into his seat, makes me wonder if he also became the first exasperated American air traveler to ask “Why is this so uncomfortable?”
Those deep, ground-challenging dips at the end of the flight are breathtaking even today. No aircraft should have its nose pointed ground ward at such a steep angle.
Within three months, Roosevelt’s pilot, Arch Hoxsey, would be dead.
In an air crash, of course.
What do you remember from your first airplane ride?