Obama flew the MZ-4 blimp all the way from Washington, D.C. to San Jose, California for a fundraising event, according to press secretary Jay Carney.
The MZ-4 is fitted with a pedal-powered generator that creates electricity for the navigational controls, and because lift is provided with helium, there are virtually no negative impacts on the environment, according to the manufacturer American Blimping Company.
As part of a personal effort to reduce carbon emissions, Obama opted for the eco-friendly airship instead of Air Force One, a Boeing VC-25A.
“President Obama certainly enjoys flying in Air Force One, no doubt about that,” Carney said. “He respects the crew and he adores the free pretzels they serve him, but he’s worried about his carbon footprint, to be frank.”
According to sources, ever since he was elected, Obama has suffered from crippling guilt when he travels in one of the two official presidential aircraft dubbed Air Force One, which are basically modified 747s and consume vast amounts of fuel. A flight in Air Force One to California, for example, would have required about 25,000 gallons (94,635 liters) of jet fuel — 44 times the average amount of gasoline an American uses during an entire year.
“The president is so committed to the saving the earth, that once he almost missed a summit because he wanted to travel to London via the Atlantic Ocean, in a little one-man kayak,” Carney said. “[Former chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel had to tie the president up so staffers could carry him into the plane.”
When asked why members of the press were not informed of Obama’s historic 2,422-mile solo journey, Carney said the president did not want to draw attention to himself, nor did he want his private commitment to stemming climate change to look like a cheap political stunt.
“Also, President Obama doesn’t want to show off, as he realizes that not everyone can afford a personal airship,” Carney said. “But now that the cat’s out of the bag, he hopes to inspire others to find innovative ways to cut down on their carbon emissions.”
While Americans might be surprised to see their head of state putting the environment ahead of convenience and safety, for many European leaders the practice of “green travel” is common. Former British prime minister Tony Blair used to skateboard to meetings in London with government ministers. French president François Hollande famously rides a scooter to get around Paris, even going so far as to offer rides to women to prevent them from having to take gas-guzzling taxis.