Nothing says cool like that sleek bird swooping down from the sky someplace far from Raleigh. Crowds gawk, school kids go gaga and cameras go click. When the copter comes, Big News is happening.
Nobody gets excited watching the state plane land. Even a convoy of State Troopers and black Suburbans wheeling in pales beside the chopper landing.
Especially in a natural disaster. The Governor gets to hop out, wearing khakis, boots and a work shirt. The rotor wash musses his hair, he squints through the blowing dust and grass and you know he’s there on the scene to see first-hand what’s happening so he can whip back to Raleigh, summon the awesome resources of the state and Take Action for the Victims. Being escorted by serious-looking guys in starched uniforms makes it even cooler.
Lyndon B. Johnson got Copter Cool. Robert Caro tells the story in Means of Ascent, where he recounts LBJ’s 1948 race for the U.S. Senate. Lyndon hired a helicopter to haul him around the state, knowing it would draw crowds everywhere.
Plus, there’s this. Flying in the helicopter gives a Governor a different view of the state. You’re above ground, but not so high you can’t see trees, people, cars and communities. Every flight reminds you: This is a great, beautiful and busy place. It’s my job to keep it that way.