The imminent arrival of Airforce One in Essex – Trump will probably land at Stansted – reminds me of the one time I saw that aircraft in the air, and its principal passenger on the ground a short time later.
It was the mid 1980s, and I was doing a sales trip in the USA. We were staying on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, and were driving back there from visiting Fermilab, a large accelerator complex similar to CERN, situated in a buffalo park some miles from the city. We passed by the flightpath to O’Hare, and I saw the unmistakable colour scheme of the president’s personal airliner as it was coming in to land.
As we approached Lakeshore Drive, situated unsurprisingly on the shore of Lake Michigan, the traffic was stopped by a policeman, who told us that the president was in town and was about to drive past. Apparently Nancy Reagan’s father had died, and she was in Chicago, along with Ronald, to attend to some business associated with his passing.
We were going nowhere until the Reagans had gone past, so we climbed out of the car and stood with several other drivers, looking towards the road where they would be. It was very bright and sunny, and I had my hand up to shade my eyes. Suddenly, there they were, about 50 yards away, and Ronald, mistaking my raised hand for a wave, waved back at me …
I will admit to not having been a great fan of Ronald Reagan at the time; his idolatry of Thatcher was particularly sickening. But with hindsight, it was he who presided over the end of the Cold War, evidently in no small part due to his ability to form a relationship with Gorbachev, the Soviet leader. A very considerable achievement.
He was also notable for the very moving way in which he paid tribute to the victims of the Challenger disaster.
So yes, I have been waved to by a president, but I will not be at Stansted tomorrow nor indeed anywhere where Trump is likely to be while he is here.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs