Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield on Friday criticized President Joe Biden for stopping to pick a dandelion for first lady Jill Biden while they walked to the Marine One helicopter on the White House Ellipse, saying that if the flower is blown “then everybody starts sneezing.”
As Stinchfield remarked on the president’s gesture for his wife of 44 years, the television chyron read: “Biden bizarrely gives Jill a dandelion.”
“All right folks, take a look at this,” he said. “Joe Biden, getting on Marine One, and he stops and picks up … I think it’s a dandelion? But it’s a dandelion that hasn’t even blossomed into a flower yet, like it gives everybody asthma. So you blow it, it goes everywhere, and then everybody starts sneezing. Well, he picks up the weed and gives it to Jill as what I guess is supposed to be some kind of a sweet gesture.”
He added: “I say it was a planted dandelion there. Who knows?”
The US military and a leading defense contractor are still searching for a solution that will keep the new helicopter expected to eventually serve as Marine One from burning the White House lawn, Bloomberg News reported Friday.
The military is in the process of replacing the aging executive transport fleet of 11 Sikorsky VH-3D and eight VH-60N helicopters, which are designated with the call sign “Marine One” when the president is aboard, with roughly two dozen VH-92A helicopters.
The new helicopters are expected to achieve initial operational capability as early as July. The White House Military Office will then make decisions about when the helicopters will enter service as presidential transport aircraft.
Although initial operational capability may only be a few months away, the military and defense firm Lockheed Martin are apparently still trying to resolve the lawn-scorching issue.
During a test flight in September 2018, the aircraft left scorch marks on the White House’s South Lawn, Bloomberg News previously reported. The scarring was not seen in every test.
Megan Wasel, a Naval Air Systems Command spokesperson, recently told Bloomberg that “under hot day environmental conditions, a risk remains of damaging a grass surface from heat from the engines with rotors turning.”
Lockheed Martin spokesperson Melissa Chadwick told the outlet that “we are making progress in addressing VH-92A landing zone mission requirements.
Wasel said that the Navy and Lockheed Martin are currently working on “concepts to reduce rotors-turning exhaust damage.”
She said “potential solutions” to the landing problem are expected as early as June. There has already been some success with an “exhaust deflector,” as well as certain adjusted operational techniques and procedures.
The aircraft is going through operational testing at the moment, and evaluators are looking at “the full range of activities necessary to perform the presidential transport mission,” Pentagon spokesperson Jessica Maxwell told Bloomberg.
She further explained that those involved in the ongoing operational testing will “note if the aircraft does any damage to the landing zones while performing operationally representative mission profiles.”