President Joe Biden, 80, now uses Air Force One’s shorter retractable stairs almost exclusively to board Air Force One, after he tripped multiple times on the plane’s steps and raised questions about his health as he runs for re-election.
Politico reported Wednesday that two Biden aides privately acknowledged that the president’s now-frequent use of the shorter ladder was intentional to ensure an easier journey and minimize the chances of another spill.
Presidents have the option of using a rolling ladder, with 26 steps to climb, or a shorter 14-step ladder that folds up on the plane.
While Biden continues to use the taller ladder, thus making for a grander entrance, when arriving at some locations, he has opted to take the shorter ladder to board the plane on almost every occasion since tripping on a punching bag last month.
The president first lost the battle against the rickety exterior staircase of Air Force One just two months into his term, in March 2021, as he was en route to Atlanta, Georgia.
President Joe Biden now almost exclusively boards Air Force One using the shorter retractable stairs (left, pictured Thursday), after falling down the stairs three times. Here (right) stumbles in March 2021
Another angle of President Joe Biden’s fall in March 2021 when he boarded Air Force One using the tallest and grandest ladder at Joint Base Andrews
Then, in February, when he left Warsaw, Poland, after his secret 10-hour round-trip train ride to Ukraine, he briefly tripped on the stairs once more.
It happened a third time in early March, when the president stumbled briefly while boarding his plane en route to Selma, Alabama.
He has also had other strokes.
There was a time last June in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when the president caught his shoe on the toe of his bike and fell on his side in front of a crowd of onlookers and reporters.
His biggest mishap of late occurred when he tripped over a punching bag at the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado last month.
The White House will not officially acknowledge that accommodations are being made.
Late last month, Bloomberg’s Justin Sink asked Karine Jean-Pierre about Biden using the shorter ladder during a flight aboard Air Force One.
President Joe Biden briefly fell while climbing the stairs to board Air Force One as he was leaving Warsaw after a three-day trip to kyiv and the Polish capital in February 2023.
President Joe Biden once again had trouble navigating the stairs of Air Force One: He stumbled briefly when boarding Air Force One as it departed Selma, Alabama, in March 2023.
President Joe Biden also fell off his bike near his Delaware beach home after he had trouble removing his feet from the clips last June.
Sink noted that shortly after Biden’s punching bag trip, he began using the retractable stairs and asked the press secretary if the president was experiencing “mobility issues.”
“If it comes to tackling, you know, he’s had a couple of incidents with falling down the stairs getting up and you guys decided it would be better for him,” Sink mused.
Jean-Pierre responded by saying that he had ‘no decision process to go through’.
“I’m sure there’s a protocol that’s used for Air Force One. I just don’t have it,” he said.
‘I mean, you see the president every day, when – to talk to – when you – when we talk about mobility. The president always says to watch him,” he continued. ‘You know, he was a, this was a president, let’s not forget, he went to a war zone country in the Ukraine and he did it in a way that was incredibly effective. The world was able to see it and meet with President Zelensky. And I think that’s incredibly important.
The ride ended with Biden stumbling down the stairs of Air Force One.
Sink also pointed to the White House disclosure the day before that the president had begun using a CPAP machine to treat his sleep apnea.
“We have seen a change in the medical technology that you are using, we have seen a change in behavior here. Is there anything you’re looking at that represents a medical change of some kind with the president? Pressed sink.
Jean-Pierre then pointed to the medical report the White House released on the president, which was released in February, before Biden tripped twice while boarding Air Force One and before the punching bag incident.