Remembering President George H.W. Bush

Historian Douglas Brinkley and former Ambassador Nick Burns join CNN's John King to discuss the foreign policy legacy of former President George H. W. Bush.

Posted: Dec 3, 2018 3:50 PM
Updated: Dec 3, 2018 4:05 PM

The late former president George H.W. Bush's final flights on Air Force One will be called "Special Mission 41," Bush's spokesman said Sunday.

By tradition, the plane is only called Air Force One when the president is on board. President Donald Trump will not be traveling on the aircraft, so the plane has been redesignated and renamed to honor Bush this week.

"Air Force One has arrived in Houston for what will technically be called 'Special Air Mission 41' tomorrow and Wednesday. A beautiful day in Texas -- 'ceiling and visibility unlimited,' Mr. President," Jim McGrath tweeted.

The "ceiling and visibility unlimited" phrase is from Bush's time in the Navy. Bush had a plaque with the acronym "CAVU" mounted on the wall of his home in Kennebunkport, Maine. In 2001, he wrote a letter to his children, that reads, "C-A-V-U was the kind of weather we Navy pilots wanted when we were to fly off our carrier in the Pacific -- 'Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited.'"

When Bush's family and friends shared the news of his death at the age of 94 on Friday, they used the code word "CAVU."

Flying with the body of the former president will be members of the Bush family, including his sons former President George W. Bush and Neil Bush, and many of their grandchildren, according to a source familiar with the plans. There will also be close family friends on the flight, including former Secretary of State James Baker and Bush's closest staff members, including his chief of staff, Jean Becker.

There will be a departure ceremony at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston and at the arrival ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

On Monday, Bush's body will be transported to Washington, DC, where he will lie in state in the US Capitol rotunda until Wednesday morning, when there will be a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral. The former president will be flown back to Houston later Wednesday on the same plane that brought the family to the nation's capital for the final "Special Air Mission 41" flight.

Bush will be laid to rest Thursday afternoon at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, where his wife, Barbara Bush, and daughter Robin, who died of leukemia as a child, are buried.

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