Fun Facts: Presidents and Travel

Posted in Travel Talk

  • Barack Obama’s 2016 visit to Cuba was the second time any sitting U.S. president visited the country. Calvin Coolidge attended the Pan American Conference in Havana in 1928.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was the first to travel abroad when he went on a tour of Puerto Rico and Panama in 1906.
  • Woodrow Wilson became the first U.S. president to go to Europe when he set sail for Paris in the SS George Washington in 1918. He went to visit the World War I peace conference.
  • In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first incumbent U.S. president to travel overseas when he set foot on African soil. He flew in a Boeing 314 Flying Boat from Miami to Morocco, where he met in secret with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Casablanca to discuss WWII strategy. It took him three days to get there.
  • It was only in 1978, during Jimmy Carter’s state visit to Nigeria and Liberia, that the first sitting U.S. president went to visit sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first U.S. president to visit an Asian country when he visited India.
  • In 1972, Richard Nixon arrived in China — becoming the first American president to visit any country not diplomatically recognized by Washington. It also paved the way for improved relations between the communist government of China and the United States.
  • In his eight years in office as president, Bill Clinton made 133 visits to foreign nations — more foreign visits than presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon combined.
  • John F. Kennedy was the first president to use Air Force One for a transoceanic jet trip when he flew to Europe in 1962. It was the first time a president flew in a jet specifically created for presidential use.
  • President Donald Trump embarked in November on the longest trip to Asia by an American president in more than a quarter-century, looking for help to pressure North Korea to stand down from a nuclear crisis. It included tours of Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Among the first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt was the first to fly in an airplane. In 1933, after a dinner at the White House with a group that included Amelia Earhart, the group flew from D.C. to Baltimore aboard the Eastern Air Transport plane.
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