Camp David Trivia...
My book "Camp David Presidents – Their Families and the World" continues to sell on Amazon.com and Author House, and the stories about it continue to surface. The most recent comes from a download about the camp that was removed from the net years ago. It's about the helicopters that are used to travel there - the titled 'Marine One'.
The sleek chopper lands and takes off daily just outside the President's retreat shuttling to and from the White House. These days, the president and his family are rarely aboard. Unlike Presidents George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon this president goes there primarily for photo-ops and summits with foreign leaders.
It was President Dwight Eisenhower's tenure that brought choppers to the retreat.
The Cold War between Russia and the United States was well underway when Ike took a seat in a Bell H-13J helicopter on the White House South lawn, July 12, 1957, and made the thirty minute trip to Camp David. He was accompanied on the first trip by Secret Service chief James Rowley. Newspapers reported the president landed at a secret location in the mountains. The camp wasn't identified until years later.
Staff and the president realized the necessity to reduce the travel time and looked to the Army and Navy for guidance. The worry was then and now how to evacuate the First Family in case of a national emergency. The trip by chopper reduced the travel time by an hour and 30 minutes in good weather. It was the nuclear era and America and the Soviet Union were in a war of threats. The president took part in "Operation Alert" to test the reliability and readiness of retreat personnel. There was increasing suspicion between the two super powers. Both, of course, had nuclear weapons.
The original aircraft was reliable but most uncomfortable, aides said. The creature comforts were missing. There was no air conditioning and no bathrooms either. Ike was sympathetic to staff complaints but the time factor was more important, the White House said. Some choppers during winter months were forced to land in other places because of bad weather. A more modern craft came in 1961 when Sokorsky introduced the VH-3A,
Competition between the Army and Navy (Marines) continues as both seek contracts and more agencies are involved. Without much fanfare, the crews for the flights have changed, too. The Marines introduced an all-female operation in recent years.
Incidentally, the "alert" in the summer of 1957 didn't interrupt Ike's golf game. Shortly after landing that July day he used the four-in-one green outside the Aspen Lodge to practice.
Presidents, Their Families And The World
by Jack Behrens
One of America's top journalist/authors, Jack Behrens, has released a new book entitled CAMP DAVID. It describes in non-sensational prose why Camp David is shrouded in secrecy, and why you can't go there. It also tells about the costs of the 125 acre plot and who manages it.
Check it out on Author House.