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‘I will miss Air Force One’: Obama returns to White House after final flight on presidential jet

Click to play video: 'President Obama gets impatient on Air Force One, shouts to Bill Clinton ‘let’s go’' President Obama gets impatient on Air Force One, shouts to Bill Clinton ‘let’s go’
WATCH ABOVE: President Obama gets impatient on Air Force One, shouts to Bill Clinton 'let's go.' – Sep 30, 2016

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama didn’t just say farewell to the nation. He said goodbye to Air Force One, too.

Obama’s roundtrip to his Chicago hometown, where he delivered the speech, marked the 445th time that he’s flown aboard the familiar, eye-catching blue and white U.S. government airplane with the presidential insignia emblazoned on the side, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

The plane goes by the call sign “Air Force One” whenever the sitting president is on board.

President Barack Obama smiles as he looks down at the legislation he just had signed awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the people who participated in the “Bloody Sunday” march, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March of 1965, at his desk aboard Air Force One Saturday, March 7, 2015. The president was en route to Selma, Ala., to attend the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” which refers to the day in 1965 when police attacked marchers demonstrating for voting rights.
President Barack Obama smiles as he looks down at the legislation he just had signed awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the people who participated in the “Bloody Sunday” march, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March of 1965, at his desk aboard Air Force One Saturday, March 7, 2015. The president was en route to Selma, Ala., to attend the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” which refers to the day in 1965 when police attacked marchers demonstrating for voting rights. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

But no more for Obama. Tuesday’s flight was almost certainly the last one for him before he leaves office in nine days, on Jan. 20.

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READ MORE: Barack Obama’s farewell speech causes major stir on Twitter

Obama’s first Air Force One flight came a few weeks into his presidency, when he flew to Williamsburg, Virginia, on Feb. 5, 2009, to address a meeting of House Democrats.

“It’s pretty nice,” Obama said of the aircraft after he stepped aboard for the first time.

Since then and up until Tuesday, Air Force One flew 2,799 hours and six minutes with Obama as a passenger, or the equivalent of 116 days, Earnest said. The destinations include 56 different countries and 49 states, with Maryland as the sole exception. It fits a category of its own, as the presidential jet is housed at Joint Base Andrews in suburban Prince George’s County, Maryland.

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President Barack Obama boards Air Force One for the last time before leaving O'Hare International Airport Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty).
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk off Air Force One after arriving at O'Hare International Airport Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty).
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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
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U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave at people from Air Force One as they leave Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, adjacent to Honolulu, Hawaii, en route to Washington, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, after their annual family vacation on the island of Oahu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to a Democratic National Committee event in New York, N.Y. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster).
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U.S. President Barack Obama arrives on Air Force One at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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President Barack Obama, accompanied by Sasha Obama, right, departs Air Force One at JFK International Airport in New York, Friday, July 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik).
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President Barack Obama looks up at dark clouds in the sky as he exits Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Obama is returning from Philadelphia where he addressed the NAACP's 106th national convention, and attend a Democratic fundraiser. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen).
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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive on Air Force One, Friday, June 26, 2015, at Joint Base Charleston near Charleston, S.C., en route to services honoring the life of Reverend Clementa Pinckney at the College of Charleston TD Arena in Charleston, S.C. Pinckney was one of the nine people killed in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church last week in Charleston. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster).
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President Barack Obama returns a salute as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, May 7, 2015, before traveling to Portland, Ore. On Friday, the president will visit Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, to make his trade policy pitch as he struggles to win over Democrats for what could be the last major legislative push of his presidency. But in choosing the giant sneaker and athletic wear company as his backdrop, Obama has stirred a hornet’s nest. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais).
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President Barack Obama boards Air Force One for a trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, on Thursday, July 23, 2015, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit both countries. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci).
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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama disembark from Air Force One as they arrive Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, April 10, 2014, from a trip in Texas. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta).

Obama spoke as recently as last week about his affection for Air Force One. For one thing, he doesn’t have to take off his shoes as most commercial air travellers are required to do.

“Of all the privileges of this office, and there are many, I will miss Air Force One,” Obama said at an Armed Forces farewell ceremony in his honour.

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By tradition, Obama is still entitled to one more flight aboard a government aircraft, and that will take place moments after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office. It just won’t be referred to as Air Force One in that instance because Obama will have ceded the title of “president.”

Air Force One, carrying U.S. President Barack Obama. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The White House has yet to say where the Obamas plan to fly for vacation, but the president recently told Oprah Winfrey that the destination will be “someplace warm.”

Before the flight to Chicago, Obama spent time with the members of the Presidential Airlift Group, the Air Force personnel who take care of Air Force One.

WATCH ABOVE: Addressing a summit at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Bush said people often ask if there is much he misses about being President.

 

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