Military: It Costs $181,757 Per Hour To Fly President Obama Around

U.S. President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One as he arrives in Seoul, November 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Jason Reed  (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Though, to be fair, it would cost that much to fly any President around. And it’s worth noting that President Obama travels more than his predecessors. In his first year in office alone he made more foreign trips than any other President in history, and in his two years in office he’s made 55 days overseas total also a Presidential record.

The average American could buy a house for the amount of money it takes to run Air Force One every hour.

The U.S. military has provided an updated estimate on that cost, first published by a taxpayer watchdog group and confirmed by, and the number is staggering — $181,757 per hour. That’s the price tag for shuttling around President Obama, who, as it turns out, has spent more days abroad in his first two years than any other president.

Estimates over the years based on government reports and independent number-crunching have always reflected a steep cost for presidential travel, but the figure provided by the 89th Airlift Wing appears to be far higher than any previously reported. It was first published in a report this week on presidential travel by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

“It’s astonishing. It’s far higher than any other … figure that’s been reported on. It’s very surprising, and of course it’s just a fraction of the overall cost involved with presidential travel,” said policy analyst Demian Brady, who wrote the study.

Master Sgt. Jeff Capenos, with the 89th Airlift Wing, told the figure reflects operating costs ranging from fuel to engine and aircraft maintenance. Asked why other public estimates, which typically did not exceed $100,000, were so much lower, he said: “They were probably inaccurate.”

According to these figures, just the 48 hours of flight time for President Obama’s recent Asian trip cost the US taxpayer $8.7 million. That’s just for Air Force One, and it’s not clear if that figure includes the Presidential entourage which consists of several other transport planes that bring along security personnel, the Presidential limousine and other equipment.

Now, I don’t begrudge the President his security. He’s a world-wide target, and it’s worth the expense to keep him safe. But this is also a President who has told Americans that the threat of global warming is so severe that the government may have to regulate where we need to set our thermostats. We’re also in a horrible fiscal situation, with the nation $13.7 trillion in debt and running an annual budget deficit that’s well over $1 trillion.

You’d think, given all that, he could do a bit less travel and a bit more teleconferencing.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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