Air Force One's encounter with a thunderstorm injected some drama - and wry comedy - into President Clinton's red-eye flight from New Mexico to South Carolina.
The president was buckled in his seat on the giant white and blue Boeing 747 and was not injured, said presidential spokesman Mike McCurry."I was holding on, I was holding on," a smiling Clinton told reporters as he went up and down the plane's aisles afterward checking on the other 45 passengers and 26 crew members. "It was certainly a character builder, wasn't it?"
Air Force One had departed Albuquerque Tuesday night and was cruising at 33,000 feet when it suddenly hit a bank of thunderstorms about 30 miles west of Lubbock, Texas. The pilot climbed to 37,000 feet to get out of the storm, but the plane was still rocked by heavy turbulence.
Secret Service agents and reporters seated near the plane's tail were tossed more than two feet into the air. Mexican dishes that were about to be served soared across the galley, and plates and glasses shattered. One agent suffered a glass cut on his hand.