Lt. Col. Paul Chase’s family cheered and waved as he exited the smaller-sized Boeing 737 with the words “United States of America” painted on the side he had just parked on the runway of Richmor Aviation in Glenville Wednesday afternoon.
The Schenectady-born Chase is the aircraft commander of the plane, which is one of two Boeing airplanes tasked with one of the most important jobs.
“The Boeing 737 often carries the vice president and other cabinet members,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris was not on board the plane Wednesday.
Only when the vice president is on board is the aircraft designated as Air Force Two. On Wednesday afternoon it carried six crew members. Its call sign for the day was Venus 35, meaning it was being used for training purposes, Chase said. Otherwise it uses the call name SAM–Special Air Mission.
The plane, an Air Force C 40B, a modified Boeing 737, originated out of Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
The plane had originally been expected to train in Schenectady County, conducting touch-and-go maneuvers, but ice on the runway prevented the crew from practicing here.
“It’s not good to do touch-and-goes on ice,” Chase said.
“The pilots have to keep up training,” said Dan Wilson, Chase’s uncle and the president of the Empire State Aerosciences Museum. “They go to a different city several times a week.”
Instead the crew trained for an hour and a half down in Atlantic City, New Jersey before heading this way.
Chase, who was born in Schenectady and grew up here for a bit before traveling while his father was in the military, said he was able to see the Catskills where his mother lives now while he was flying in but not too much of Schenectady County due to cloud cover. Nonetheless he said he was happy to see his family.
Once the plane was parked, Chase got to show his family the aircraft up close.
“I’m super excited to finally be able to give a tour to my beloved family,” he said.
His family walked up and down the aisle of the plane as Chase explained where people would typically sit and what areas of the plane were used for.
It was the first time Chase’s mother, Karen Osborn, got to see inside the aircraft.
“I have a real sense of pride about our nation,” she said, also noting how happy she was to see her son.
“It feels wonderful,” she said.
Osborn said Chase is very humble about the job he does.
While in Schenectady County Chase was finally able to take a tour of the museum, something he has been wanting to do for a while. During that tour, he met with museum members.
The Air Force Two plane has been spotted in the area in recent years, but the last time the plane visited Schenectady County was during the George W. Bush administration, Wilson said.
Shenandoah Briere may be reached at [email protected]