OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – A left-wing conspiracy?
On Monday, a flap on the wing of Air Force One (search) left its track, forcing President Bush to return from Oak Ridge, Tenn., in a smaller presidential plane, a Boeing 757 (search) rather than the 747 he arrived in.
Just over a week earlier, on the Fourth of July, a problem with an engine starter valve on the wing of his plane -- this time a 757 -- delayed Bush's departure from Hagerstown, Md. Another plane from the presidential fleet was flown in from Andrews Air Force Base (search) to take him on to West Virginia.
Two different planes. Two different wings. Both times they were left wings.
The plane troubles for the Republican president apparently were just a coincidence. And the White House said neither malfunction endangered Bush.
"One of the flaps on the wing was off its track and they thought it was best to have a 757 fly down from Andrews," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday.
The replacement plane arrived moments before Bush's motorcade rolled onto the tarmac at McGhee-Air National Guard Base near Oak Ridge. The crew hustled to transfer lunch -- pita bread filled with chicken salad -- onto the substitute aircraft as the hobbled larger Air Force One taxied down the runway to be repaired.