Get Your Wings: Joe Perry talks meeting Barack Obama on Aero Force One

 
 

For a good amount of presidential administrations, Aerosmith has dubbed their official fanclub “Aero Force One.” Tonight, band co-founders Steven Tyler and Joe Perry got to pop into the inspiration for their legions of fans, chilling for a bit with President Barack Obama; and it all happened by accident.

“We were stacked up over Lakeland [Florida], while his plane landed,” Perry exclusively tells Vanyaland, still buzzing from the encounter. “We were trying to get in before him but we missed. Then, while we’re sittin’ on the runway, we’re lookin’ at Air Force One and we got out, took some pictures and the next thing you know, we’re on the plane being given a tour. Then Obama heard we were there on the plane and he said, “If you wait ’til I get there, we’ll do a little meet and greet.” So we ended up talking with him for a couple minutes, getting some pictures…”

Perry and Tyler had just returned to the States after a five-week tour of South America, the latter is playing Florida Monday and Perry hitched a ride on his private plane back to the mainland. While his singer had met Obama a few years back, this was a first for the guitarist.

“Steven met him one other time, the Kennedy Center Honors years ago (2010 when Paul McCartney was honored), and he got a chance to talk to him for a second,” Perry says. “But this was the first time I’ve ever met a president, a seated president; it was pretty flipped out — and it was definitely worth the wait. It was one of those things where if we planned, something would’ve screwed up. But after a month in South America? Something like that? Hey — you know? The ‘Bad Boys from Boston’ you know? Steven and I have had some pretty cool adventures, but this one is right up there.”

Usually when one is flying, the best encounter they’ll have is with a snoring seatmate or maybe a curt stewardess who tells them to take a seat when that three-vodka-cranberry bathroom run kicks in while the plane descends to its destination.

“Sure enough…shit happens,” Perry concedes. “In the ’70s we couldn’t get anything but arrested. Now it’s like, were so respectable.”

What about during the resurgence of a newly sober and somewhat politically correct Aerosmith back in the 80s, surely they could’ve hung out with Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy doing her whole “Just Say No” campaign?

“No… I don’t think so,” Perry says. “But it was pretty amazing to stand there in that conference room where so much has gone down over the years; think about Colin Powell and all those guys… Kissinger and all them on that plane. We only talked to him for, like, three minutes. I had a bunch of questions I wanted to ask him, but as it was, he was coming back from a long day of stumping for…the Democrats. He’s pretty amazing, you know? Being a Republican, I still have a lot of respect for the office, you know? Sitting there with the Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world… it was really cool.”

Indeed. This time of year, with tensions running high as election season winds down, not many people can say they just happened to bump into the president of the United States.

“This is true,” Perry says. “This is true.”