Eric Pianin, Washington Post Staff Writer
November 16, 1981; Page A3
President Reagan returned to Washington yesterday from a
three-day trip to Texas aboard the so-called "doomsday"
plane--a modified Boeing 747B jet transport that would
serve as the national airborne command center in case of a
Presidential counselor Edwin Meese III flew down to San
Antonio, Tex. late Saturday to join Reagan, White House chief
of staff James A. Baker III and deputy chief of staff Michael
K. Deaver on the demonstration flight back to the capital. The
"doomsday" exercise also gave Reagan and his
three top aides a chance to huddle after a week of politically
damaging revelations involving the president's budget
director, David A. Stockman, and his national security
adviser, Richard V. Allen. However, Reagan spent much of the
flight back to Washington working alone in a forward cabin.
Stockman was quoted at length in the latest issue of
Atlantic Monthly as raising serious doubts about the
effectiveness of Reagan's economic policies. Allen, meanwhile,
is under investigation by the Justice Department for the
receipt of $1,000 last January from Japanese journalists who
were granted an interview with Reagan's wife, Nancy.
Larry Speakes, Reagan's deputy press secretary, said
yesterday he doubted the president's own credibility had been
damaged by the Stockman and Allen incidents.
"I know the president hasn't lost any credibility
," Speakes said in San Antonio. "I don't think
anybody has any doubts about the president."
Speakes added that Reagan has been "as successful as
any president in history" in getting through his
legislative program, and expects the president to continue to
do well on Capitol Hill.
"We're in very good shape," Speakes said.
Reagan, dressed in blue jeans, a plaid shirt and cowboy
boots, boarded the huge, $117 million airborne command plane
around 3:15 p.m. EST at the Kelly Air Force Base in San
The aircraft, about three-fourths the length of a football
field, contains six areas for planning and directing military
action in time of national emergency.
The plane can stay aloft for 72 hours without
refueling. Lt. Gen. Phillip Gast, director of operations for
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Col. James Kidd, chief of the
National Emergency Airborne Command Post, led the tour and
briefing for the presidential party.
Reagan is the second president to have flown aboard an
emergency aerial command post. Jimmy Carter used a prototype
of the aircraft for his first trip home to Plains, Ga., after
he took office in 1977. However, Reagan flew in a newer, more