Around the World with LBJ: My Wild Ride as Air Force One by James U. Cross

By James U. Cross

When Lyndon Baines Johnson desired to cross someplace, there has been no preventing him. This dynamic president known as for Air strength One as others summon a taxi—at a moment's observe, regardless of the hour or the elements. And the guy who made convinced that LBJ bought his experience used to be common James U. pass, the president's hand-picked pilot, most sensible army assistant, and private confidante. one of many few Air strength One pilots to have a place, concurrently, within the White residence, common pass is additionally the one member of LBJ's internal circle who has now not publicly provided his memories of the president. during this publication, he is going at the list, making a interesting, behind-the-scenes portrait of America's advanced, frequently contradictory, regularly larger-than-life thirty-sixth president.

General go tells an engrossing tale. as well as piloting Air strength One all over the world, he served President Johnson in a number of capacities, together with directing the army workplace within the White condominium; coping with a mystery two-million-dollar presidential emergency fund; supervising the presidential retreat at Camp David, the president's whole transportation fleet, and the presidential bomb shelters; operating the White apartment Mess; hiring White condo social aides, together with the president's destiny son-in-law, Charles Robb; and writing condolence letters to the households of squaddies killed in Vietnam. This wide-ranging, around-the-clock entry to President Johnson allowed go to witness occasions and proportion moments that upload colour and intensity to our realizing of America's arguably such a lot hard and unpredictable president.

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Extra info for Around the World with LBJ: My Wild Ride as Air Force One Pilot, White House Aide, and Personal Confidant

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It was hardly the ideal landing surface. But that was only one of the problems. We also would need to refuel the JetStar on the island because our flight from Washington would be about 1,600 miles, almost draining our supply. We’d never make it back to Florida without more fuel. I had my doubts about whether there was any fuel on Grand Turk Island. As soon as I hung up with the vice president, I made a round of phone calls. The news wasn’t good. Just as I thought, there was no aviation fuel on Grand Turk.

We landed about four minutes late, and Ike never said a word. He rewarded me with warm thanks, a handshake, and a broad smile as he disembarked. A few days later, I got a personal letter of thanks from Eisenhower. Not long after President Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961, we got word that the Special Air Mission’s twin-engine Convairs would be replaced by a sleek, fast, and efficient four-engine plane, the VC-140 Lockheed JetStar. I was selected along with three other pilots to head the training program, and was sent to Lockheed’s manufacturing plant in Marietta, Georgia, in June to learn everything I could about the new plane.

Johnson was flat-out furious. He needed to be back home at Jo ining the Inner Circle 41 the Elms to host a party celebrating the engagement of one of his secretaries, Geraldine Williams, who was going to marry newspaper journalist Robert Novak. “Well, dammit,” he said. “I thought you told me that we’d land over here at Poughkeepsie and Kennedy would land over there at Stewart Field and we’d be able to get out. Why is it that the vice president of the United States can’t get a little priority once in a while?

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