Buried in today's Times story about how the Pope will endanger us all when he brings his holiness to New York next week is the fact that the private jet he travels on is called "Shepherd One." Sweet!, we thought to ourselves. The Popemeister travels in style. What could it look like? Multiple "throne rooms," obviously. Wings customized to look like those of the angels. Solid gold pews. A wet bar stocked with the blood and body of Christ. The crew would be like the crew in Soul Plane! Only more holy. But then National Catholic Reporter brought us back down to earth.
In reality, there is no “papal plane,” in the sense of a jet owned by the Vatican and used exclusively for papal travel. Instead, a regular commercial jet owned by Alitalia, the national air carrier of Italy, is set aside the day of the pope’s departure. The pilots and crew are all regular Alitalia employees. There’s also no special room on the plane for the pope, no Air Force One-esque office with a couch, desk, TV set, and wet-bar. His lone perk is that he gets a seat by himself in the front row.
That's it? Why so spartan? It's not like he's a Protestant. Then we remembered reading the other day about how companies that pimp out private jets are few and far between! It's a really big problem for rich people who would like to flaunt their wealth, the Journal told us. But we had no idea they were wait-listing the Pope. This is more serious than we thought.
Security Measures, Seen and Unseen, Are Planned for the Pope’s Visit [NYT]
Inside the Papal Plane [National Catholic Reporter]