FLIGHTY HILLARY CHANGES PLANES - CONSTANTLY
May 2, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - Jet-setting Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton
is a fussy frequent flier who used three different planes in a single day during a recent campaign swing through South Carolina.
The former first lady even grounded one aircraft - a chartered Gulfstream II - in Columbia, S.C., last Friday, demanding a swankier Gulfstream III replacement for a flight out west.
"She didn't like the configuration of the cabin," an aviation source familiar with Clinton's travel told The Post.
And that was after the Gulfstream II pilot dropped Sen. Clinton off at the bustling commercial terminal rather than the secluded area for private planes, sources told The Post.
The Gulfstream III charter had to be scrambled from Westchester County to swoop into South Carolina and carry Clinton off to San Diego for the start of a two-day fund-raising trip to California, flight records show.
Clinton's campaign did not immediately comment yesterday.
Clinton's jet-capades began when she hopped aboard a Gulfstream II on Thursday afternoon that ferried her from Washington to Orangeburg for the first Democratic presidential debate at South Carolina State University.
That same plane brought her back to Washington that night, arriving just after 11:30 p.m., and then was sent back, with no passengers, 46 minutes later to await Clinton's arrival back in South Carolina the next afternoon.
On Friday, she used a Hawker 800 private jet owned by the New York investment firm Gilder Gagnon Howe for a morning flight to Greenville, S.C., from Washington, after an 8 a.m. address at a New York teachers' association gathering.
From Greenville, Clinton hopped back aboard the Gulfstream II for the 25-minute flight to Columbia before swapping it for the Gulfstream III.
Clinton soared across California in the Gulfstream III over the weekend, hopping from San Diego to San Jose, then over to Reno, Nev., and back to Van Nuys, Calif., before heading home to Westchester County - arriving early Monday morning.
It's not clear how much the charters cost.
Presidential campaigns can pay as much as $9,000 for a charter flight, but get a break when borrowing a corporate jet - like Clinton did with the Hawker 800.
That's because ethics laws allow candidates to pay the aircraft's owner only the equivalent of first-class airfare.
Clinton, who has warned against global warming from the stump and hyped the need for alternative energy such as ethanol, burned through thousands of gallons of jet fuel swooping along the campaign trail - and it's not clear why she sent an empty plane to wait for her in South Carolina then flew a different jet from Washington the next day.
Clinton kept her feet on terra firma yesterday, but was basking in the glow of megastar Bono, the U2 frontman and global activist who joined with Clinton to push for improved educational opportunities for kids in impoverished countries.
Meanwhile, Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) agreed yesterday to participate in a June 3 Democratic debate in New Hampshire. Former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) and second-tier candidates Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Sen. Joe Biden (Del.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson had already signed on.
FLIGHTY HILL CHANGES PLANES - CONSTANTLY By IAN BISHOP - Nationalnews - New York Post Online Edition