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Vice Presidential Picks and Planes (Update5)

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N755NA.jpg The last time I wrote about politics and planes on this page it was Super Tuesday and the race was still up for grabs. Well, the campaign is entering its next phase and Vice Presidential picks by both Senators Obama and McCain are right around the corner with upcoming Democratic and Republican conventions.

Obama has been flying on 757-200 N755NA (cn 30043/925) and McCain on 737-400 N802TJ (cn 24874/1936). In case you were wondering, both have American flags on them.

No doubt we're getting close to announcements by both candidates, but McCain's 737 is currently parked at an FBO in Phoenix and reporters traveling with the Senator tell FlightBlogger that they believe that the plane is being repainted and prepared for the eventual vice president.

N802TJ.jpgMcCain plans to stay in Arizona for the next few days and it's unclear if the campaign will be seeing N802TJ before they are expected to announce a VP next Friday after the Democratic convention ends Thursday. Aides to McCain are mum on the plane right now.

In 2004, a post on an aviation forum revealed Kerry's pick when someone at PIT spotted Kerry-Edwards decals being affixed to the chartered 757.

If anyone is at PHX and spots the 737 in the hangar, please let me know.

Planes and politics go together nicely.

UPDATE 8/22 2:36 PM: I've confirmed with sources familiar with the repainting of the aircraft that McCain's fleet is going to double once the campaign announces the VP pick. The 737-400 is being prepared as the Vice Presidential charter, while Senator McCain will be adding a 757-200 to his campaign fleet.

UPDATE 8/22 5:33PM:
On the other side of the aisle, and maybe I'm reading too deeply into these picks, but a flightplan was just filed to Wilmington, DE (New Casltle) from Chicago, IL (Midway) on a Netjets Hawker 800. Obama has been in Chicago all day. A Delaware departure could mean Senator Biden is his number two. I figured I'd go on record here with more speculation.

UPDATE 8/22 8:03 PM:
A few additional clues here: NetJets chief shareholder is Warren Buffett who has praised Obama and CEO Richard Santuilli is a big Democratic donor. Oh, and here's the aircraft - N863QS.

UPDATE 8/23 10:13 AM: Well it looks like this page called it correctly. I got a 3am text message which was surprisingly welcome. More on planes: A Gulfstream 4 was just dispatched from Northeast Philiadelphia Airport (KPNE) to New Castle - Wilmington (KILG). PWA444 has already filed a flight plan from Wilmington to Springfield, IL (KSPI). Here comes Biden!

UPDATE 8/24 8:37 AM: Just to circle back, N863QS aka NJA863 - the original flight from Friday - filed two flight plans this morning. The first from Wilimington, DE to Scranton, PA (where Biden was born) and the second from Scranton to Denver (Centennial) site of the Democratic National Convention.  

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