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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Toby

At the end of an 18 hour return trip home from Manila, just as Air Force One is about to begin its descent into Andrews Air Force Base, a cockpit indicator light leads the crew to believe that the landing gear might not be locked down and so the plane stays in the air while the problem can be looked at. Tensions in the plane and on the ground grow as people become more and more concerned that the plane may have been tampered with.

Summary Edit


C.J. is talking with a few reporters in the press cabin of Air Force One, which is on its way back from the Philippines.  Over the PA, Lt. Col. Kaplan comes on to inform everyone that Andrews has directed the plane to make a turn and hold before landing at Andrews Air Force Base.

In another part of the plane, the President is with Leo discussing the need to be briefed on Colombia, so the country can be recertified as an ally in the war on drugs.  Charlie enters with Colonel Weiskopf, the pilot of Air Force One.  He tells the President there may be a problem with the front wheels of the plane's landing gear and they will need to check it out before landing.

Act IEdit

Leo and the President continue their conversation - Leo tries to make the President feel better by telling him stories about his flying days.  Charlie, C.J., and Will enter and the President tells them what's going on and tells C.J. that she has to find a way to not let the press know what's going on.  She goes back and tells them there was a fuel spill on the runway.  One of the reporters pulls C.J. aside to tell her that she has learned there were friendly fire deaths in Kundhu.  C.J. goes to call Leo.

At the White House, Josh is talking with a Republican Congressman, Tom Landis about an environmental bill.  Donna comes in and gives him a note, telling him about the landing gear.  He excuses himself to go out and talk to Donna.  As he finishes, he is approached by two Democratic Congressmen, who question Josh on why he is meeting with Congressman Landis.

Toby arrives and he and Josh go to Leo's office to talk about the plane troubles.  Leo tells the two of them about the five friendly fire deaths in Kundhu.  Leo tells Toby to talk to Congressman Richardson, who is set to give a speech against US involvement in Kundhu - and Leo would like the Congressman not to say so that strongly.

Back on Air Force One - C.J. is trying to find something that can distract the press from the imminent arrival of a jet fighter being sent to check on Air Force One's landing gear.  Charlie calls C.J. and Will back to the office, where the President confirms the friendly fire deaths to them.  He asks Will if he is in a position to brief him on Colombia, because the briefing has to be in person.

Act IIEdit

Will comes out of the lavatory and C.J. wishes him luck - he asks for what?  She tells him that he has to brief the press - they won't believe her.  Will goes back to the press cabin and tries to get the reporters to look out the other side of the plane from where the plane is going to appear.  All but one does - who immediately sees the F-16.  The reporters begin to scramble and try to make calls - C.J. turns off the phones in the press cabin and tells them there is a problem with the landing gear.

In the front of the plane, Colonel Weiskopf comes to see the President to tell him the F-16 could not confirm if the wheels are down.  The next option is to do a fly-by at Andrews and that the plane is also going to need to refuel soon.

Back at the White House, Leo and Margaret are talking about the plane.  Josh comes to see Leo and Leo asks about Josh's conversation with the two Democratic Congressmen and the meeting that he's holding with Congressman Landis.

Toby arrives to talk with Congressman Richardson.  Toby tells the Congressman, who is black, about the friendly fire deaths and they talk about his planned speech the next day.  Richardson tells Toby that he intends to announce a plan to reinstate the draft.

Act IIIEdit

Donna complains to Josh that she doesn't feel useful and wants to be able to do more.  In Leo's office, he is getting things together for a meeting, when he sees Toby return.  Toby tells Leo about the Congressman's plan to offer the amendment to reinstate the draft.

On Air Force One, Will is giving the President the required briefing on Colombia, which the President finds farcical because they are going to recertify a country as an ally in the drug war that is actively participating in the trafficking of illegal drugs.

Back at the White House, Josh returns to the meeting with Congressman Landis to tell him that Josh (from Leo) is going to add an amendment calling for revenue enhancements to the Chesapeake Bay bill.  Donna comes to find Josh to tell him that Leo needs him to call the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have just walked away from the Kundhu peacekeeping bill.  Leo also wants Josh to work on the maintenance procedures for Air Force One.

On the plane, Leo is talking with the President.  Bartlet is angry at the CBC for walking away on the bill (and for the proposal to reinstate the draft).  As they are talking, Colonel Weiskopf comes down and tells the President they were unable to visually verify the gear was down and they are going to have to do the fly-by at Andrews.

Bartlet comes to find Will to tell him that he is going to call the family members of the infantrymen killed in Kundhu.  He also asks Will what happens if he doesn't recertify Colombia.  The President also sends Will to tell C.J. about the flyby.  In the press cabin, C.J. is trying to keep the press from getting the word out about Air Force One and stonewalling them on their questions, when Will arrives with the message - which C.J. relates to the press and tells them it's almost over.

Act IVEdit

Toby finds Leo on the portico and they talk about the draft amendment - Toby wants to allow debate - but Leo wants to get them back in line.

On Air Force One, Will tells the Preisdent that not certifying Colombia would result in sanctions being put in place.  Bartlet is leaning toward not recertifying, but Will tells him it is moot, because the recertification has to be delivered before midnight and they are still on the plane.

Leo finds Josh to tell him the Chesapeake bill is going to die in committee.  The Congressmen that Josh talked to spoke to a Republican colleague (and the chair of the committee) and because Josh has been working with Congressman Landis, he is going to kill the bill.

Donna comes to find Josh to tell about about the operational procedures regarding Air Force One.  She continues to brief him as they head upstairs to the Roosevelt Room.  Josh enters the room to tell Congressman Landis that the bill is dead.

Toby returns to Congressman Richardson's office and tells him that C.J. will make a statement the next day praising Richardson for his idea about a draft and welcomes the debate on the issue. 

On Air Force One, they recycled the landing gear and got the indicator light that showed the gear was down and locked and they are cleared to land at Andrews Air Force Base.  Of course, now the problem is that the plane has been flying for so long that the runway at Andrews is no longer ready for them to land, and they must keep circling until it is.  Upon hearing this, the President goes back into his office and slams the door in disgust.

Trivia / Goofs Edit

  • Congressman Landis claims that Chesapeake translates to "Great Shellfish Bay". A more correct translation from Algonquian is "at the great water".[1]
  • As the aircraft prepares to land at Andrews, the aircraft commander tells the passengers that they are being turned out for runway 39.  There is no runway 39 at Andrews or anyplace else.  Runways are numbered (in multiples of 10) to the closest magnetic heading aligned with the runway when landing.  Runway 9 points east (090 degrees); runway 24 to the southwest (240 degrees).  A runway that "points" north would be Runway 36 - there is no 390 degrees. [1]
  • At several points during the episode, various characters refer to the jet fighter attempting a visual inspection of Air Force One as an F-16 or Falcon (meaning an F16 Fighting Falcon).  However, the plane, when seen through the window by the assembled press pool, is actually an F-15E Strike Eagle.  Goofs involving military protocol, units, and hardware are common on The West Wing.
  • President Bartlet angrily compares the Black Caucus to Smoot and Hawley, because they prioritise American interests over world affairs. the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act (1930) placed high tariffs on most imported goods with the aim of protecting American business.

Quotes Edit

Toby Ziegler: Well, that's about all the time C.J.'s got to work with up there 'cause Leo, there's a wire service guy standing at Andrews right now, whose job it is to record the wheels downtime and pretty soon he's gonna say, "Show me the fuel spill."
Leo McGarry: A wire guy on the ground?  Toby, 20 White House reporters are about to see a supersonic fighter jet 200 feet outside their window. It's gonna be a story, but he's gonna be down by then.

Congressman Richardson: It is in the interest of working-class-America to be able to choose between more than a McDonald's uniform or a Marine uniform....  I'm not opposing the peacekeeping bill.  In fact, the whole Black Caucus is going to stand behind it, but with a proposed amendment.  Reinstating the draft.  I think the kids in my district are going to live longer if their fortunes are tied a little more closely to the fortunes of the kids in Josh Lyman's district.  I'm just trying to promote some patriotic unity.

Colonel Weiskopf: [over PA system] Well, ladies and gentlemen, from the flight deck, this is Colonel Weiskopf.  From the hooting and hollering we can hear through our cockpit door, you've no doubt heard that we have a clear indicator light on our landing gear, and we are cleared for landing at Andrews Air Force Base.  For those keeping score, our total flight time will have been 22 hours and 13 minutes using three separate flight crews along the way.  We will have traveled 10,700 air miles on our return trip, a significant portion of it the over West Virginia and Tennessee.  White House staff on the ground informs us that while airborne on this flight, three separate pieces of legislation have been negotiated and initialed by the President.  We've had an engagement, a birthday, and the nation of Colombia was recertified as an ally in our war against drugs.  I hope you won't consider this time we've spent together a waste.  And now I'm being handed...  Hang on just one moment...  Yeah, ladies and gentlemen,  They're going to move us to runway three-niner.  There's a strong wind shift under 10,000 feet, so Andrews approach has asked us to abandon our descent, make a 30-degree right turn and maintain our current altitude.  I'm sure we'll be down in no time now.
[As Colonel Weiskopf is speaking over the PA, we see Bartlet standing in the hall.  Upon hearing the news that the plane isn't going to land, Bartlet storms into his office and slams the door.]

Cast Edit


Guest StarringEdit



  1. title=A Dead Indian Language Is Brought Back to Life |last=Farenthold|first=David A.|work=The Washington Post|date=2006-12-12|page=A1|url=

"The West Wing" Angel Maintenance (2003)