The Costs Of Obama’s Weekend Trip(s)

We are usually pretty tolerant of expenditures by any President to travel like a world leader — but why is there such little talk about Mr. Obama having his Valentines date in Chicago?

After knocking the CEO’s for their private jets and their taxpayer paid Las Vegas trip plans, and saying "the party is over" — Mr. Obama went to Illinois on Thursday.

Fair enough. But he was back at the White House that night, to argue for the stimulus package.

He then left again on Friday to go to back to Illinois. And he will presumably return to Washington on Tuesday, after the long weekend.

We won’t even get into the irreversible damage that the expended carbon from so much to-ing and fro-ing will do to Mother Earth.

We just wonder how much it is costing you and me, the US taxpayer.

Luckily that guardian of the US Treasury, Henry Waxman, did ask for a study on the costs of Presidential travel back in March of 2006.

(He was trying to get President Bush to reimburse the government for using AF1 for campaigning.)

Here are some excerpts from that Congressional Report (a pdf file):


MARCH 2006


… This report assumes that flight operating costs are $56,518 per hour for Air Force One . These figures are based on the per-hour cost figures cited by GAO for fiscal year 2000, adjusted for inflation.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the President’s domestic travel also involves the use of accompanying cargo planes.

This report assumes one cargo plane accompanies the President on each trip at an operating cost per hour of $6,960. This figure is based on the per-hour cost cited by GAO for fiscal year 2000 for the C-17 cargo plane, adjusted for inflation…

The President flies on a VC-25. General Accounting Office, Presidential Travel: DOD Airlift Cost for White House Foreign Travel, Appendix I, at 10-11 (Aug. 2000) (GAO/NSIAD-00-209).

The VC-25 plane has a speed of 630 miles per hour. Air Force, Fact Sheet on VC-25 – Air Force One (online at…

According to the Air Force, the C-17 flies at 450 knots, which converts to 518 miles per hour. Air Force, Fact Sheet on C-17 (online at:…

The flight time for presidential travel to campaign-related events was calculated by dividing the total miles traveled by the President by the cruising speed of Air Force I.

Distances were determined using two Internet-based distance calculators: and

According to the first distance calculator above, it is 598 miles (962 km) (519 nautical miles) from Washington, DC to Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Obama’s three trips back and forth from DC to Chicago add up to 3588 miles – as the crow flies.

Which, if our calculations are correct, amounts to at least 5.7 hours flying time for Air Force One. And 7.9 hours of flying time for the accompanying cargo plane.

(For the sake of simplicity, we will assume that both planes were going at their full speed, which they probably were not. And we will not count the time in service on the ground before and after each flight.)

Using these very conservative figures, Air Force One cost $322,153 and the cargo plane cost $55,494. For a grand total of $377,647 for Mr. Obama’s three round trips.

But of course that is just for Mr. Obama’s air transportation. And it doesn’t even cover all of that.

For, as is the custom, Mr. Obama took the helicopter, Marine One, back and forth to Andrews AFB. (And he is usually accompanying by two other helicopters on the short trip.)

However, we are frankly too lazy to try to calculate all of the costs involved.

But just thinking back to Mr. Obama chiding these CEO’s about the use of their private jets, when he is spending (at least) $377,647 to hop back and forth and back to Chicago strikes us as a bit irresponsible.

And didn’t Mr. Obama himself tell us that we are in a new age of personal responsibility?