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Pilots Captains John Dunkin (left) and Jay Galpin after flying Donald Trump's private jet in 2014. Photo: Andrew Milligan / PA Images via Getty Images

The president’s personal pilot is on the administration's short list to head the Federal Aviation Administration. Trump has told a host of administration officials and associates that he wants John Dunkin — his longtime personal pilot, who flew him around the country on Trump Force One during the campaign — to helm the agency, which has a budget in the billions and which oversees all civil aviation in the United States.

What I'm hearing: One industry insider equated this to the Seinfeld episode when Cosmo Kramer used his golf caddy as a jury consultant. A senior administration official told me that comparison is completely unfair. The source confirmed Trump recommended Dunkin and that he’s sat for an interview for the post. That source said he was impressive.

  • “He’s on the list because he's the president’s pilot, but if he gets the job it won't be because he's the president's pilot,” the source said.

In response to my questions for this story, another administration source stressed that while no decision has been made, Dunkin has the appropriate experience to get the job.

“John Dunkin isn’t just a pilot," the administration official told me. "He’s managed airline and corporate flight departments, certified airlines from start-up under FAA regulations, and oversaw the Trump presidential campaign’s air fleet, which included managing all aviation transportation for travel to 203 cities in 43 states over the course of 21 months.”

Other candidates for the position, per my sources, include Rep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican; and current acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell, who has impressed many in the administration and the industry.

  • Dunkin has told people that when he used to fly Trump around on his private Boeing 757, they'd often find themselves stuck on the tarmac with delays. He'd tell Trump that none of this would happen if a pilot ran the FAA.

Get more stories like this by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek. 

Go deeper

Updated 42 mins ago - Sports

Live updates: Olympics formally kick off with "sobering" opening ceremony

Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After a year-long delay, the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway. But this year's largely spectator-less opening ceremony is a "sobering" event focused primarily on the athletes.

The latest: The cauldron in Tokyo has been lit, formally kicking off the Olympic Games. Tennis star Naomi Osaka had the honor of carrying the Olympic torch to light the cauldron.

2 hours ago - Sports

Cleveland Indians change name to "Guardians"

The Cleveland Indians baseball team announced Friday that it will change its name to the "Guardians," following years of activism and protests against a moniker considered offensive by many Native Americans.

Why it matters: It's the first time the team will change its name since 1915, a move that comes in the wake of the nationwide racial reckoning that began with the murder of George Floyd.

2 hours ago - Health

Alabama governor: "It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks"

Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A frustrated Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) told reporters Thursday that "it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks" for the state's continued surge in new COVID-19 cases.

Why it matters: Alabama has reported nearly 8,000 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week. It's one of the few states in the country with fewer than 40% of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.