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Murrysville Native Recalls Days As Air Force One's Chief Steward

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Air Force One comes in for a landing at the 911th Air Base in Moon Township.

It's a flying hotel suite.

"Just imagine 4,000-square feet with wings on it," said John Haigh, the former chief steward on Air Force One.

At Dick's Diner, near his hometown of Murrysville, Haigh recalls 19 years of VIP flights, the final 13 on Air Force One, beginning in 1979. As chief steward, he catered to presidents.

"President Reagan, one of his favorite meals was meat loaf and macaroni and cheese. And President Bush did not like broccoli. He liked Tex-Mex food," says Haigh.

The Boeing 707 gave way to the current 747. No bad seats.

"We had the capacity for 2,000 meals for a two-week trip around the world," said Haigh.

Haigh wrote a book about his experiences, flying VIPs around the world for 19 years. But if you're looking for a tell-all, you'll have to look somewhere else.

"That would diminish me and everyone I ever flew with," he says.

An inscribed photo reveals that the chief steward defeated the chief executive in a White House game of horse shoes.

To show there were no hard feelings; President George H.W. Bush hosted a party on Haigh's final flight in 1992.

"He handed me a slice of cake and a glass of champagne," said Haigh. "And I said, 'Mr. President, I'm on duty. I can't drink.' He said, 'As your commander-in-chief, I rescind that order.'"

Despite the fact that he hobnobbed with royalty, Haigh says he's just "an ordinary American being allowed to do extraordinary things."

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