President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush were joined by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton aboard Air Force One this morning for the flight to South Africa for a memorial service for the late South African president, Nelson Mandela.
Icy road conditions in Washington prompted the Obamas to take a motorcade to Andrews Air Force Base to board Air Force One. They arrived at 8:14 a.m. and were aboard a minute later.
The former president and first lady were on board, according to Bush spokesman Freddy Ford, who was also along for the trip. Ford said the couple traveled to Washington on Sunday to make sure they made the flight in light of storms in Dallas and in DC.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also spotted on AF1. Former President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea, are attending a Clinton Global Initiative event in Rio and will be make their own way to Johannesburg for the memorial service, a Clinton Foundation spokesman said.
The aircraft is expected to make a refueling stop in Senegal.
Obama, Bush, Clinton and former president Jimmy Carter plan to attend a memorial service for Mandela on Tuesday at a soccer stadium in Johannesburg. The South African government says 53 heads of state and governments have confirmed plans to attend.
Those 53 won't include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who announced Sunday that he'd reversed himself and scrapped the trip -- citing the high cost of transport and security. News agencies noted his decision comes less than a week after the disclosure of the amount of taxpayer money spent on his official residence and two private residences.
The cost to attend the memorial would have been nearly $2 million, including chartering a private plane and transporting security personnel and equipment, according to Haaretz.