FLIGHT OR FRIGHT: The plane carrying First Lady Melania Trump to Philadelphia for a goodwill hospital visit this morning had to track back to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after a small amount of smoke could be seen in the plane and a burning smell was detected, according to a press pool report.
Fifteen minutes into what was supposed to be a 30-minute flight, the aircraft was rerouted. FLOTUS spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham described the issue as “minor,” and she told the press pool more information would be given later after diagnostics were completed, the pool report said.
A flight crew member handed out damp washcloths to passengers to hold over their faces for the odor, which also reportedly included Secretary of Health and Human services Alex M. Azar. Trump, her team and select members of the media had been traveling on a Boeing C-32A “Bright Star.”
A staffer entered the compartment where media types were seated to inform them of a “mechanical problem” and the need to return to Joint Base Andrews for reevaluation on the tarmac. Shortly after 9 a.m., the plane landed and passengers were shepherded to a lounge area. The trip was expected to go forward with a second aircraft, according to the pool report.
The First Lady’s motorcade had departed the White House at 8:01 a.m. Trump was wearing a belted houndstooth coat, a black crewneck top and black stilettos. The Philadelphia-bound group later boarded a second plane and FLOTUS’ motorcade arrived at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital at 11 a.m. This stop on her “Be Best” campaign, will include meeting with families affected by neonatal abstinence syndrome, and staff of the Jefferson University Medical Center Maternal Addiction, Treatment, Education and Research program. Before touring a neonatal intensive care unit, Trump spoke briefly at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-hosted conference geared for fighting NAS.
“There are few things harder to bear than seeing a newborn suffer and I am anxious to do all that I can to help shine a light on this epidemic.” she said. “I am proud of the administration’s continued efforts in fighting opioid addiction.”
Outdoors afterwards, Trump faced some curious onlookers and a few protesters, including one woman, who held a sign that read “Melania Leave Philly!” and another one with a sign imprinted with “Complicit.”
A few chanted “Shame on you, Melania!” and “Families belong together!” according to the press pool.
Following a few handshakes and a photo-op with law enforcement officials at the airport, Trump was once again airborne and back at the White House without incident shortly after 2 p.m.