WEST WING Season 4, Episode 19, first airdate 04/02/03. James Morrison has the role of Colonel Jessie Weiskopf, Pilot of Air Force One.
The President of the United States and his people are at the end of an 18-hour return trip from Manila, with Air Force One about to begin its descent into Andrews Air Force Base, when the pilot informs the passengers that Andrews has asked them to stay in the air.
Pilot, COL Weiskopf reports to the President in person. President "Jed" Bartlet cleared all other personnel from his office. He then turned his attention to his pilot.
"There's no problem on the ground, Sir. When we deployed hydraulic system one, our nose-wheel indicator light didn't illuminate. Now, chances are it's a problem with the indicator light itself, but at the moment we have no way of knowing if our front wheel's locked. An F-16's been scrambled from Durban Airbase, it'll be here in 22 minutes."
Bartlet wants to know what happens after that.
"They'll pull up alongside, try to get a visual read."
"And then what happens?"
"If we don't have our wheels?"
"There are a number of options at that point."
"You'll keep me briefed?"
"Yes sir... thank you Mr. President."
CJ has to keep people on board from panicking about the problem, and enlists the help of her colleagues to try and keep the onboard press from guessing what's going on.
As the time for the F-16's arrival approaches the President's staff try to draw attention to other matters. Naturally, they fail and have to institute a press lockdown.
Col. Weiskopf emerges shortly after this to update Bartlet on the situation. Bartlet asks if the gear is down.
"Sorry Sir, we don't know yet. There's no moon tonight and it's tough for them to see under the plane, but they're still trying."
"And as to what happens if this doesn't work?
"We do a flyby at Andrew's tower and take a look."
"How close do we fly to the tower?"
"We're going to have to fly pretty close..."
"At what altitude?"
"… Pretty low..."
Bartlet jokes, "We can't just stay up here for a couple of days and wait until there's a moon?"
"We'll let the boys next door in the Falcon poke around a little bit first, but I uh... want to tell you..."
"We're going to have to re-fuel pretty soon." With that the Col headed back to the flight deck.
CJ was having problems with the press whom now resented her preventing them from filing their stories.
President Bartlet was on the phone to the Whitehouse trying to get the draft problem sorted when he noticed Jessie Weiskopf approaching. "Jessie Weiskopf's coming down and he ain't smilin'," He tells the person he is talking with and then hangs up the phone.
"Sir, they were unable to get a visual read. We're going to go ahead with the flyby at Andrew's. That's going to take about an hour and fifteen minutes because Air Force One is currently over central Tennessee. They took us off the jet-routes."
The people on the plane are getting antsy, including the President. They are tired and they want to get off the plane. The people on the ground are getting tired too. However, they've been talking to the department responsible for maintaining 'Angel' and they think it's just a panel light on the blink.
CJ is waiting to find out whether they are close to Andrew's tower. However, it seems they won't actually require the fly by after all. The crew re-cycled the landing gear and the indicator light came on, so now they can finally land.
Everyone settles down for landing, relief is clearly evident throughout the cabin. They are buckled in and starting to relax. Over the speakers comes the voice of Weiskopf.
"Well, ladies and gentlemen, from the flight deck this is Colonel Weiskopf. From the hooting and hollering we can hear through our cockpit door you've no doubt heard that we have a clear indicator light on our landing gear and we're cleared for landing at Andrew's Air Force Base. For those keeping score our total flight time will have been 22 hours and 13 minutes using 3 separate flight crews along the way. We will have traveled 10,700 air miles on our return trip a significant portion of that over West Virginia and Tennessee. White House staff on the ground informs us that while airborne on this flight, 3 separate pieces of legislation have been negotiated, and initialed by the President. We've had an engagement; a birthday and the nation of Columbia were re-certified as an ally in our war against drugs. I hope you won't consider this time we've spent together a waste and now I'm being handed... hang on just one moment. Yeah, ladies and gentlemen they're going to move us to runway 39-er, there's a strong wind shift under 10,000 feet, so Andrew's approach has asked us to abandon our descent, make a 30 degree right turn and maintain our current altitude. I'm sure we'll be down in no time now..."
President Bartlet re-enters his office and slams the door.
Reviewer’s Note: As Colonel Weiskopf, James again plays a military officer whose opinions are clearly highly valued and completely trusted by those he reports to. However, Jessie Weiskopf comes across as an easy-going and likeable man who is open and friendly, even a little playful within the bounds of his rank and responsibility. In fact, the complete opposite in terms of personality to the stern, taciturn behavior of our favorite, Colonel T. C. McQueen on Space: Above and Beyond.
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