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 realize, regardless of the hour or the elements. And the fellow who made yes that LBJ acquired his experience used to be normal James U. go, 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, at the same time, within the White condominium, normal move can also be the single member of LBJ's internal circle who has no longer publicly provided his reminiscences of the president. during this e-book, he is going at the list, making a interesting, behind-the-scenes portrait of America's advanced, usually contradictory, continuously larger-than-life thirty-sixth president.

General go tells an engrossing tale. as well as piloting Air strength One around the world, he served President Johnson in a number of capacities, together with directing the army workplace within the White apartment; 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; working the White condo Mess; hiring White residence social aides, together with the president's destiny son-in-law, Charles Robb; and writing condolence letters to the households of infantrymen 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 tough 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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Ordinarily, we would have preferred to have 6,000 feet to land or take off. But we could safely use a 5,000-foot strip—if the runway was in good condition. On Grand Turk, the runway was made of crushed coral that had been packed, graded, and stabilized. 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.

My legs were numb by the time the weather cleared a little. Thankfully, I was rescued when a crewman came back to let me know we’d been cleared for takeoff. I was never so happy to get back to a cockpit. In mid-November 19 63 , I flew LBJ to a number of political appearances in the western United States. m. on November 20, we landed at his Texas ranch. Johnson told me to fly his JetStar back to 42 Around the W o rld w i th LBJ Washington and take a few days off. He planned to campaign with President Kennedy in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth, and then return to Washington on Kennedy’s backup plane.

I wanted to save my six o’clock. But I was stuck in a trap between aviation rules and Johnson’s temper. Johnson lived at the Elms, the mansion he had bought from Perle Mesta, the well-known hostess to the capital city elite. Even though Johnson was vice president, his home phone number was listed in the Washington phone book, as was his daughters’ separate number. I looked up the number—WO6-4030—and called, chewing my nails and hoping he wouldn’t bite my head off. Johnson answered the phone himself with that drawnout Texas “heh-lo” that I later came to know so well.

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