Good morning, everyone, and greetings from the Boeing plant in Everett, where Patrick, Eve, and I are waiting to be transported to Paine Field and the factory where the 787 Dreamliner is assembled on press buses. We’re here in Everett to cover the final leg of President Obama’s mid-February tour of the Left Coast, which began a few days ago when the President arrived in Los Angeles.
This will be the President’s first 2012 trip to Washington State, and his fourth official visit since he assumed the office. (He made two visits in 2010 and stopped by once last year as well).
Air Force One is expected to touch down at Paine Field around 10:45 AM or so, and from there the President will head into the building that Eve and I are being taken to for a tour of the facility. (The assembly line is not in operation today, presumably because it would be too noisy and unsafe to hold a media event in that environment). We’re told the President has not yet set foot inside a Dreamliner, so today will be his first opportunity to go inside Boeing’s new revolutionary widebody jet, which has taken many long years for the company to get into the air.
UPDATE, 9:10 AM (Andrew): Just received this update a few minutes ago from the White House press pool (the print reporter that travels with the presidential entourage): “Motorcade departed San Francisco Intercontinental at 8:34 am PST, under sunny skies and the dulcet tones of a loan, albeit loud, protester. Uneventful ride to the airport. Air Force One headed to Seattle [actually, Everett] at 8:55 AM.”
UPDATE, 9:30 AM (Patrick): Those of us who went out to the flight line got to see a pretty remarkable lineup of Boeing aircraft, including many 747–8s (the newest variant of Boeing’s distinctive jumbo jet).
UPDATE, 9:50 AM (Andrew): We are now in position on the press riser inside the factory. President Obama has a good backdrop for his speech: three Dreamliners in various stages of completion, a big American flag hanging from the rafters, and Boeing machinery. In the foreground is a growing crowd of Boeing workers, who are talking shop with each other while waiting for the President to show up. It’s going to be a while.
UPDATE, 10:07 AM (Patrick): Out here on the tarmac, I’ve counted seven helicopters landing so far. A couple look like Black Hawks, but with an executive paint scheme. The air smells like jet fuel. It appears that the Marines will be transporting President Obama down to Bellevue/Medina for his afternoon events.
UPDATE, 10:20 AM (Andrew): There are a lot of reporters here. It’s a good thing there’s a really long press riser inside the factory here, because every major television network seems to have a crew, and there are many print reporters and still photographers here as well on behalf of their respective publications.
UPDATE, 10:23 AM (Patrick): The Washington State Patrol, sheriff’s deputies from King and Snohomish counties, and other federal and local authorities are out in full force. Glad to see them making sure the President is fully protected.
UPDATE, 10:50 AM (Patrick): Air Force One has landed and the President has exited the aircraft using a Lift-a-Loft. He is now talking to a group of friends and families of Boeing workers.