State aeronautics administrator Guy Rouelle with Vermont's Cessna 182
Since moving to southern Vermont last month, Gov. Peter Shumlin has been catching more rides in a state-owned airplane.
Shumlin rode the Cessna 182 to or from public events three times in September, according to spokeswoman Sue Allen. He was scheduled to take a fourth trip last Friday, as WCAX-TV first reported, but it was canceled due to inclement weather.
At an unrelated press conference Wednesday, Shumlin defended his frequent flier status. He said that taking the plane from Hartness State Airport in nearby Springfield saves his Vermont State Police detail from having to make the 220-mile roundtrip from Montpelier to Putney to pick him up and drop him off. But he conceded that the plane has its limitations.
"It can only fly when it's blue sky," the governor said. "It can't fly at night."
And, Shumlin added, his security detail doesn't love the idea of him riding in the ancient aircraft.
"I've had the door pop open on me in flight," he said.
Shumlin's recent trips haven't cost much, according to figures provided by Allen. The three September flights, from Springfield to Burlington, cost $112.80 apiece.
According to Allen, Shumlin saved taxpayers a great deal of money by moving to Montpelier and then East Montpelier for much of his six-year tenure.
"In the instances that he's used it recently, it's an efficient use of taxpayer dollars compared to multiple round-trips in security's vehicle," she said. "With many competing events and invitations and priorities, the governor tries to be in as many places as he can and this can be the most efficient way to get him there."