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For the first time as president, Joe Biden lands in Delaware

Jeff Neiburg
Delaware News Journal

For the first time ever, Air Force One landed in Delaware carrying a president who was heading home for the weekend. 

President Joe Biden landed at Delaware's New Castle Air National Guard Base on Friday evening for the first time since he took the oath of office in January. Biden landed at 6:07 p.m. after a 25-minute flight from Washington.

President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at New Castle Airport near New Castle on Feb. 5, 2021. Biden is due to spend the weekend in Delaware.

Jim Keith was among the small crowd of people watching the plane land behind the Burger King on Route 13. He was there with his wife, Miranda, and their 1-year-old daughter, Mae.

A former crew chief in the Delaware Army National Guard, Keith said he knew exactly where to sit and watch.

"We just wanted to see him come in," Keith said. "We saw him when he came in when he was vice president.

"It was definitely cool seeing someone from Wilmington making it all the way to the top."

After landing, Biden told pool reporters that "it was a great honor" taking his first trip on Air Force One as president.

President Joe Biden speaks with the press upon arrival at New Castle Airport near New Castle on Feb. 5, 2021. Biden is due to spend the weekend in Delaware.

As for his plans this weekend, Biden said he planned to “see my grandchildren and hang out with Jill” and noted that he still had some stuff to move from one house to the other house.

His motorcade left the airport at 6:20 p.m.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden planned to watch the Super Bowl during his weekend at home but didn't offer further details about how he would spend his time in Delaware. The trip also comes a day after Hunter Biden's 51st birthday.

In his eight years as vice president, Biden notoriously urged his Secret Service detail to keep a distance while in Delaware. That's likely to be a bit harder now.

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As vice president, he traveled to Wilmington frequently. It's unclear how often he plans on visiting Delaware as president. While Biden was in Delaware for months before the inauguration, a stretch of Barley Mill Road that passes in front of his Greenville home was shut to through traffic.

Marine One, with President Joe Biden aboard, lifts off from the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Washington.

“I think you’re going to open the paper in spring or summer 2021 and say, ‘My God, what are those helicopters doing here?’” Biden said during an August 2019 campaign fundraiser in Rehoboth Beach. “My God, where are all of those Secret Service agents?

“‘Why the hell did we support this guy? Holy mackerel,’” he said to laughs. “So just in case, I apologize ahead of time.”

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The trip was Biden's first time on Air Force One in more than 20 years, according to the Associated Press. In 2000, he flew to Colombia with then-President Bill Clinton as the president announced $1.3 billion in aid to help the South American country battle narcotics traffickers.

President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One at New Castle Airport near New Castle, Del., on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Delaware.

The short flight was on the smaller C-32 model from the Air Force's fleet. It is a specially designed version of the Boeing 757-200 commercial plane. 

Behind the Burger King, Keith and his family were right under that plane as it whizzed by.

"It was just a cool experience," he said. "We went and had dinner and then watched the president land."

Reporting from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Contact Jeff Neiburg at jneiburg@delawareonline.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg