Politics

Trump's Personal Helicopter Raises Questions

| by Michael Doherty

President Donald Trump has sparked some questions after the appearance of his personal helicopter on the grounds of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

As per standard security protocol, Trump is only able to fly on Air Force One or Marine One, according to the Secret Service. The security agency has said Trump did not ride the helicopter, The Associated Press reports.

The helicopter was reportedly spotted on the resort's helipad on April 8 before leaving a few hours later. The White House did not answer questions about why the aircraft had been on the helipad.

The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, is white with a bold "TRUMP" logo on its tail.

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According to the Palm Beach Daily News, Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago via motorcade around 2:45 p.m., after he had gone out to his golf course in West Palm Beach.

Sean Baker, a spokesman for Palm Beach Fire-Rescue, said that the Secret Service had requested a fire engine be on standby while the helicopter arrived at the club.

"We were surprised," said Baker. "This was not something we knew was coming."

Baker said that the helicopter would remain at Mar-a-Lago until April 9, and that there had not been reports of anyone arriving or being picked up by the personal helicopter. Baker said that he did not know what the helicopter would be used for in that situation.

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The helipad, which was newly paved, was reportedly ready for use in March after passing inspection. Trump will reportedly be able to use the helipad to ride to Mar-a-Lago in Marine One.

Valerie Bianco, a Trump supporter who saw the helicopter fly in, said that it was "an amazing surprise" to see the president's helicopter.

In February, shortly after Trump entered office, he said that he had a plan to save $1 billion on upgrades to Air Force One, according to Fortune. The U.S. Air Force said that it was not aware of any such plan.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in Florida, Trump spoke about a program which would include the development and purchase of two Boeing jets to be used for Air Force One. Trump said during the rally that "we got that price down by over $1 billion."

According to Trump, the program was initially expected to cost around $4.2 billion, which the president said was too much.

"Can you believe this?" said Trump. "I said, 'No way.' I said, ' I refuse to fly in a $4.2 billion airplane. I refuse.'"

When Air Force spokesperson Col. Pat Ryder was asked about Trump's statement regarding the deal, Ryder replied: "I have not been told that we have that information."

Sources: AP via New York Daily News, Palm Beach Daily News, Fortune / Photo credit: Palm Beach Daily News

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