HAMPTON, Va. — Melania Trump made history Wednesday by flying in a V-22 Osprey aircraft during a visit to a pair of military bases.
The White House says it’s the first time a first lady has flown in an Osprey. The tiltrotor aircraft takes off and lands vertically. Mrs. Trump flew round trip between Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington and Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia.
First ladies usually don't take solo helicopter rides. When they do travel by helicopter, they often are accompanying the president aboard Marine One, a more traditional aircraft.
Melania Trump highlighted the spirit of giving Tuesday by sorting toys and making Christmas cards for an annual toy drive held by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
In Virginia, Mrs. Trump checked out the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet and addressed an audience of service members, noting that many had just returned from deployment. Some had responded to natural disasters such as Hurricane Michael, which devastated some Florida Panhandle communities.
"I'm honored to be able to say welcome home and thank you for answering the call of duty," she said. "I have said this before, but it's worth repeating. We know that we are free because you're brave. And I speak on behalf of my husband when I tell you we are forever grateful for your service."
The first lady exchanged high-fives with elementary schoolchildren and posed for selfies with some of those wearing military garb. She also spent time with the crew aboard the USS George H.W. Bush and toured part of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier named after the former president, who died in November.
Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity spoke to Mrs. Trump aboard the carrier for an interview that was set to air Wednesday night.
Mrs. Trump's stops at a pair of military bases Wednesday came during an unusually busy week for the first lady.
President Donald Trump visited with Marines and spoke at a White House veterans' conference Thursday amid fallout over his decision not to visit an American cemetery during his weekend trip to Paris to commemorate the end of World War I.
It was her second day in a row at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. Mrs. Trump visited a different area of the base Tuesday to support an annual toy drive sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
On Thursday, she planned to continue a decades-old tradition of first ladies reading to patients at Children's National hospital in Washington.
Superville reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, contributed to this report.