There were two blue and white 707s parked at Andrews Air Force Base that morning. The lettering on them spelled "United States of rather than "U. S. Air Force." The number tail of the plane at the left was 27000. That was the President's; you could call it Air Force One, though technically Air Force One is whatever plane the President happens to be in, whether helicopter or jet.
"The other one's yours," said the Air Force Sergeant. "The other one" was 86972; "yours" meant the party of the Secretary of the Treasury, about to embark for the Middle East. Did that make 86972 Air Force Two? "It's a backup. There are a couple of backups. 26000 is a backup now, that brought President Kennedy back from Dallas. The backups are pretty much alike. Yours might as well be Two."
My interest in the Middle East came out of the dank scenario I saw whenever I tried to look five years out at the economy. As a member of the editorial board of the New York Times, I wrote some long and fearfully abstract opinions on the threats to our banking system from stretched overseas loans. "I do not see how we get out of this box," said a bank president over lunch. Even more agitated than the bank president as a highly reputed oil expert. He could see oil prices going up, ratcheting inflation up. As a boy, he had witnessed one such inflation firsthand. "My father," he said, "was one of the top lawyers in Germany. He took out an insurance policy in 1903 for one million marks. He paid the premium faithfully every month for twenty years, and when it came due, he took the proceeds and bought one loaf of bread."