Having hit a little public relations "turbulence" over her request for a Boeing 757 for flights between California and Washington D.C., Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is back-pedalling a bit. Ms. Pelosi said earlier today that she would be "happy" to fly commercial, if the military can't provide an aircraft that can make the trip non-stop.
Not surprisingly, Ms. Pelosi (and her supporters) are being less-than-honest about what the Air Force has offered, and what that aircraft is capable of doing. To support her transcontinental travels, the service proposed that the new speaker use the same aircraft has her predecessor, Illinois Republican Denny Hastert. After 9-11, when the speaker began using military jets on a routine basis, Hastert made the trip between D.C. and his home district on a C-37A, the Air Force's VIP transit version of a Gulfstream V. Note the C-37's range: 5500 nautical miles, more than sufficent for a cross-country jaunt, even when required fuel "minimums" and distances to divert fields are factored in. The larger C-32/Boeing 757 that Pelosi wants has the same range, and its cruising speed is slower than the Gulfstream. Of course, the C-32 carries more passengers (and is more expensive to operate), but it looks a hell of a lot more impressive when it arrives at an airport, carrying Speaker Pelosi and her entourage.
BTW, you've got to love Pelosi's argument that stopping for fuel somehow reduces the "security" of the flight. Readers will note that the MSM (and House Democrats) conveniently ignore the fact that these refueling stops would occur at Air Force bases--or other DoD installations--that are even more secure than commercial airports. On the other hand, most military personnel are Republicans, and the prospective refueling bases are in Red States, so maybe that explains Nancy's apparent paranoia over refueling.
If Pelosi is really concerned about staying aloft, here's a solution for her problem. Rather than opting for a mere C-32, why not upgrade all the way and request a C-17 transport. True, it has far fewer creature comforts, but it can carry far more people; heck, the Air Force could even slide a "comfort pallet" into the cargo hold, complete with airline-style seats and a lavatory that smells like it hasn't been "downloaded" in a while. The Air Force could even toss in some MREs or box lunches (a.ka. box "nasties"), served by a grouchy loadmaster. Heck, with a C-17, Pelosi could ferry the entire California Congressional delegation back home for the weekend. The accomodations wouldn't be very posh, but hey, the C-17 can be refueled in-flight, eliminating the need for those time-consuming stopovers in Jesusland.