a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

All aboard the Spirit of Strom Thurmond

Posted by Thomas Nephew on April 16th, 2007

Your surreal vice president at work and play:

Airstream’s appeal seems to have few limits, and indeed a powerful world traveler recently provided proof of its persistent appeal. On a trip to Asia in February, Vice President Dick Cheney traveled in an Airstream — inside an airplane.

Mark Silva, chief of the Washington bureau of The Chicago Tribune, accompanied the vice president as the press corps’ pool print reporter. The group flew on a huge gray C-17 cargo plane that the Air Force calls the Spirit of Strom Thurmond, in honor of the late senator. Mr. Silva said that when he boarded he noted the familiar outline of the Airstream roof inside the vast fuselage.

From “AirStream: The Concept Travels well” (Phil Patton, NY Times), via Sifu Tweety (“The Poor Man”), who adds:

What? That’s how he travels? Seriously, is Cheney trying to make himself into a cartoon supervillian? He’s like a white trash Dr. No; would it be surprising at this point if his team of doctors turned out to be sexy martial artists or dwarfs?

7 Responses to “All aboard the Spirit of Strom Thurmond”

  1. Paul Says:

    That Airstream has been around forever. I used to configure it for flight on C-141s. It’s a mobile command post that was normally used by NATO commanders traveling into the former Soviet Union and by the Commander of US Forces Korea.
    It certainly doesn’t look like the ones in the article’s pictures and actually bears only a superficial resemblance to an actual Airstream — it’s silver and has a rounded top.
    The only thing odd about the whole thing is why Cheney was using that instead of the 737s, which have all of the secure voice and other capabilities of the command post.

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    I appreciate the background, Paul. I just can’t get by the image of Cheney soaring with the spirit of Strom Thurmond, sitting in an Airstream (however extensively modified). There’s a half waitresses on rollerskates/half “Bond, James Bond” feeling to it.
    I don’t suppose it can be ejected on a rocket sled through the cargo hatch, unfolding wings and propellers after a short free fall to enable escapes or short reconnaissance missions? The kitchenette sliding aside to reveal a modern aircraft cockpit? And that it can return to and land in the airborne mothership? Now that would be cool.
    No, no, I know you can’t tell me.

  3. Paul Says:

    I don’t know, I suppose you could strap a parachute to it and slide it out the back. It’s mounted to a series of metal pallets.
    But considering its occupancy, I’m thinking you could dispense with the parachute altogether.

  4. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Now, now — unless… my God, you’re not saying he’s immortal and indestructible, are you? In other news, is that you in this picture?

  5. Paul Says:

    Nah, I don’t allow pictures to be taken of me in uniform, unless someone makes me. That’s some Loadmaster in a C-17. I haven’t worked on those since Japan in the 90s.
    We’ve received a few of them here, but I don’t have anything to do with them. The “Spirit of Dessicated Racist” is based out of Charleston, SC.

  6. Gary Farber Says:

    “The only thing odd about the whole thing is why Cheney was using that instead of the 737s, which have all of the secure voice and other capabilities of the command post.”
    I only just noticed this post, I’m afraid, but I distinctly recall news stories from several years ago on this being done at times for security reasons, so as it make it inobvious from external view that it was the Vice-President traveling.

  7. » Blog Archive » All Aboard the Spirit of Amritsar Says:

    […] week I wrote a light little post – “All Aboard the Spirit of Strom Thurmond” — about Vice President […]

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