Helsinki, Finland – President Joe Biden encountered yet another stumble while ascending the steps to board Air Force One on Thursday, this time opting for a shorter staircase that posed less of a challenge. Despite the modification, the 80-year-old president faltered midway up the 14-step staircase connected to the presidential plane in Helsinki, Finland. He appeared to brace himself for impact momentarily before swiftly recovering and successfully reaching the aircraft’s lower entrance.
As Air Force One prepared to depart for Joint Base Andrews after Biden’s meetings with Nordic leaders following a two-day NATO summit in Lithuania, the president turned and waved to onlookers at Helsinki-Vantaan International Airport, reports NY Post.
Joe Biden appears to stumble up the stairs as he boards Air Force One. pic.twitter.com/wvVSpuo8no
— Salem News Channel (@WatchSalemNews) July 13, 2023
Since enduring a significant fall during a graduation ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Colorado last month, Biden has been observed using a shorter set of stairs when boarding Air Force One. During the incident, he tripped over a sandbag. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated in a previous briefing that she was unaware of any specific decision-making process regarding the choice of stairs for the president’s boarding.
It has been reported that previous presidents have utilized the shorter stairs to enter and exit the highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft in inclement weather conditions.
Thursday’s misstep marks at least the fourth occasion on which President Biden has stumbled while attempting to board Air Force One. In February, he encountered balance issues while returning from an international trip, visibly falling forward halfway up the stairs to the plane in Warsaw, Poland. On that occasion, he had been using the aircraft’s longer set of stairs.
In a five-page report following the president’s annual physical earlier this year, White House doctor Kevin O’Connor noted that Biden’s movements were affected by “significant spinal arthritis, mild post-fracture foot arthritis, and a mild sensory peripheral neuropathy of the feet.”
As the oldest president in US history, Biden concludes his time in Europe on Thursday night after a week filled with notable gaffes. These included referring to Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir as a “daughter of Ireland,” mistakenly calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “Vladimir,” and skipping the opening dinner of the summit, which is typically an important diplomatic event.