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posted: 4/8/2014 12:01 AM

Air Force One costs are small potatoes

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Air Force One costs are small potatoes

Twice, Charles Brown has asked the government to provide the cost of operating Air Force One (Your Views, Aug. 13 and Dec. 23, 2013). Perhaps this will help explain costs.

On a 16-hour flight from O'Hare to Hong Kong, a 747 will burn 54,500 gallons of jet fuel. Jet fuel at DuPage Airport is more than $5 a gallon, but since the government buys in bulk, a good estimate would be $4.25 a gallon. The fuel cost for the 16-hour flight is $231,625 or $14,450 per hour.

Air Force One pilots are military and on the payroll whether they're in an officers' club having dinner or in the cockpit eating a box lunch. Everyone else involved with Air Force One is on the payroll, too, regardless of whether Air Force One is in the air, on the ground in another country or in the hanger at Andrews Air Force Base.

There's a training cost that needs to be considered, too. Pilots trained to transport the president must maintain their qualifications. This can be done by actually flying Air Force One, by "flying" a multimillion dollar simulator, or (as I've seen happen) by renting a United Airlines 747 and a United check captain to fly with the AF1 pilots from JFK Airport to Andrews to do takeoffs and landings.

If Mr. Brown is concerned about the government-generated aviation costs, perhaps he should focus on the F35 fighter. The proposed 2,400 fighters, with cost overruns, are presently at $400 billion of taxpayer money.

Complaining about the cost to operate Air Force One reminds me of a student complaining about the cost of chalk because he doesn't understand the lesson on the blackboard.

One final point. As anyone who has been in the service knows -- rank has its privileges.

Capt. Tom L. Conley


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