LONDON — Air Force Two sat on the runway at the London-Corbin Airport most of the afternoon Thursday as Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Manchester for an event.
Pence arrived at the airport about 11 a.m. to a crowd of people from around the area excited to see the Vice President in London. He was welcomed by Gov. Matt Bevin and Rep. Hal Rogers.
Pence took time to shake hands, take photos and speak with members of the crowd which included numerous local officials as well as those who just wanted the opportunity to experience the unique visit from a Vice President.
John Duggins of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky brought his two daughters, Mia, 11, and Ava, 8. Pence stopped and talked to the family as he made his way along the barriers set up to hold the crowd back from the runway.
"They had to sacrifice getting up real early to drive down here a couple hours, but to have the opportunity for them to get to meet the Vice President is definitely a memory that I'll never forget and I know they won't either," Duggins said of his daughters.
Mia said Pence talked with her sister and her about Air Force Two and how the President flies in Air Force One.
"It was amazing," Mia said, adding that she never thought she would be talking to the Vice President.
"It was really cool because I didn't think I would be here when I was this young," Ava added.
The family was able to get their picture taken with Pence as well.
"It was amazing," Duggins said. "It's an honor to be able to meet the Vice President of the United States, just all the hard work and the effort that they do put in, they catch a lot of slack for a lot of things and it takes a special man. I believe that God has really blessed him to be in the position that he's in."
London-Corbin Airport Manager Matthew Singer said the last time a government official of this magnitude landed at the airport was in 2003 when then-President George W. Bush landed at the airport for a campaign rally.
Singer said he was contacted a little over a week ago to begin ironing out logistics for the arrival of Vice President Pence. The first issue at hand was if the runway could handle Air Force Two as the runway is currently being repaved and reconstructed.
Once it was determined the runway could handle Air Force Two, Singer said it was a smooth process. Singer said the relationship with the Secret Service worked well throughout the week and the day Thursday.
"It wasn't nearly as complicated as I would've imagined it would be," Singer said.
"It's a great thing for the airport," Singer said, adding that he was glad the airport was able to accommodate the Vice President's visit. The airport is one of the only airport's in the region that can handle an aircraft the size of Air Force Two.
"This is the community's airport and it belongs to the region and we want everybody to know it's here," Singer said. "Some of the companies that are locating here are because of the airport and there's some people that don't know the airport is here so this is a good way to say, 'hey, look at what we got right here'."
Law enforcement around the area was heavily involved in providing security during the event. Hal Rogers Parkway was closed from London to the Manchester exit in anticipation of Pence's motorcade traveling to and from Eastern Kentucky University's Manchester campus where Pence would have a briefing on the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program. The IRT program is a Department of Defense project that partners with towns across the country to provide medical care and infrastructure needs to rural and underprivileged communities.
The Manchester event was an invite-only event.
Pence announced the approval of more than $9 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist in Kentucky's fight against the opioid crisis.