I see Trump eventually becoming like the Norma Desmond character in Sunset Boulevard. She was a star of the silent film era who was sidelined by the arrival of the talkies. So she retreats to isolation in her mansion, endlessly watching her old films in private and reliving her glory days. I can see Trump doing that, living at Mar-a-Lago and watching recordings of his rallies and recalling memories of the adulation that he once received from his fans.
One sign of Trump’s decline is his plane. When he was campaigning in 2016, he flew around in his private Boeing 757 that had his name in big gold letters on it. It was his ultimate status symbol of being wealthy. He would use it for all manner of photo ops and would make a grand entrance by arriving in it to his various airport rallies.
So what happened to that plane? It now sits idle and rusting in a regional airport.
Trump’s personal Boeing 757 was always the crown jewel of his wealth — the ultimate sign that he had made it. He’s used it as a backdrop for sleek photo shoots, campaign rallies, VIP tours, for shots of him eating his Big Macs and KFC, plated, with a knife and fork. Trump loved to show it off — the customized cream-colored leather seats, gilded bathrooms, the seat buckles layered in 24-karat gold.
But today it sits idle on an airport ramp in Orange County, New York, about 60 miles north of Manhattan.
One engine is missing parts. The other is shrink-wrapped in plastic. The cost to fix and get it flyable could reach well into the high six-figures, a price-tag Trump doesn’t appear to be dealing with right now. Though the current state of his finances aren’t public, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the hospitality industry home to so many of his businesses.
For some reason, Trump didn’t do what is normally done when big planes are idled and that is park it is an arid climate.
A CNN camera crew saw Trump’s plane parked on a fenced-off tarmac at the small upstate New York airport on Wednesday, about an hour and a half drive from Trump Tower. The choice to leave it outside at a northeastern airport, exposed to the elements, has baffled aviation experts who spoke with CNN. They note that it’s just a few hours’ flight to warmer, more arid climes. Snow, rain, and moisture can lead to metal corrosion of the airframe and the engines — hard to detect, and, in severe cases, catastrophic. Large airplanes are typically stored for long stretches of time in the desert southwest, where the dry climate makes corrosion nearly impossible.
So what does he travel in now since he will never risk traveling on a commercial flight. Apparently he now uses a much small 1997 Cessna.
It was this plane Trump flew on when he made his first post-presidency trip back to Manhattan earlier this month. “The small jet isn’t his favorite,” says a former White House official who frequently flew with Trump on both planes. With just eight seats, the Citation such as the one Trump is using, is a tighter squeeze and far less luxe than the 757.
Just eight people? That must sting. That is not enough to even take his family, since he and his children also have a security detail. In an unusual move just before he was kicked out of the White House, he even ordered that his four adult children and their two spouses have a security detail for six months after after his presidency ended.
Additionally, ABC News has learned that Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are also receiving Secret Service protection beyond Trump’s term.
It’s not unusual for first children to receive an extension on their protection as a courtesy extended to the outgoing president and his family, but traditionally such protection has been limited to underage children and college students, as opposed to independent adults.
It’s also rare for former administration officials to receive protection beyond the president’s term in office.
By law, the former president and first lady receive lifetime protection, and youngest son Barron Trump will receive protection until he’s 16 years old. Former Vice President Mike Pence by law receives six months of protection after he leaves office.
I think the Cessna is about as downscale as Trump will allow himself to go. If even that becomes unaffordable with all his mounting legal and other expenses, he may forego all travel altogether.