Air Force One is the official name for the aircraft that carries the President of the United States when he’s traveling. The plane is considered to be one of the greatest symbols of the American presidency and the power of the position. The idea for a specific airplane for the president came about in 1943 after the United States Army Air Forces became concerned about the reliance on commercial airlines to transport the president. But Air Force One is much more than just a private plane. It’s a flying vault full of secrets that few presidents have opened up about, until now.
It Can Fly Higher And Go Faster Than Other Planes
Air Force One has the capability to fly at nearly 650 miles per hour. That’s extremely fast for such a large plane. But that’s not all! It can also fly higher than most commercial planes at 45,000 feet.
That’s 10,000 feet higher than the normal cruising altitude of any typical passenger airliners. Despite flying so high and so fast, Air Force One is also an incredibly smooth ride, making it a traveling experience fit for a president.
It Can Be Refueled In Mid-Air
Amazingly, Air Force One has the ability to never need to land. It can be refueled mid-flight for security reasons, so the president never has to land in an unsafe situation.
If necessary, the plane could fly forever, or at least until there was some kind of serious mechanical failure. But even then, with a plane like this, who knows? On top of mid-air refueling, Air Force One has a gas tank that can hold 53,611 gallons. That should last you for a while!
Nobody Ever Goes Hungry
Air Force One is decked out with not one, but two restaurants. Okay, maybe they’re not complete restaurants, but there are two massive fully-stocked kitchens that feed the president, his staff, family, and the crew.
The president and his guests can have just about anything that they want to eat as the stores are always stocked and the plane is staffed with top-rated chefs. The main kitchen can fit up to 100 people and is always full of bustling workers.
There’s No Shortage Of Phones
Aboard Air Force One, there are over 85 phones available for use. Why so many? As it turns out, the plane is the most secure place that the president can talk, even more so than the White House.
The Executive Phones are particularly special, and have lights on the back that turn red when the phone line has become secure. Besides a few of these special phones, there are dozens of less-secure lines that are often used for the press and other staff.
Why Is Air Force One Painted Blue?
Air Force One’s color scheme is certainly eye-catching. Its distinctive paint job is largely due to President John F. Kennedy’s affinity for the color blue. When industrial designer Raymond Loewy worked alongside the president and first lady, he chose the particular robin’s egg blue in the hopes it would please the Kennedys.
He was right, and the color scheme has remained to this day. However, when now-President Trump redesigns Air Force One it will be painted red, white, and blue. In an interview, he specifically said that he wants to trade the “Jackie Kennedy color” for a hue that’s “more American.”
Even Early Incarnation Had High-Tech Wheel Wells
In 1959, President Eisenhower ordered the director of Central Intelligence to install high-powered spy cameras in the wheel wells of the early Air Force One that he flew in. These cameras were so powerful that even at that time they could read license plates from the sky. The motive behind installing these cameras was the Cold War.
Today, it is believed that these sky-to-ground cameras have been installed in other places on the underbelly of the plane with the technology greatly improving over the years.
The Plane Is Family-Friendly
Although Air Force One is one of the most heavily-guarded and technologically advanced aircraft on the planet, it’s actually very family-friendly. It’s designed to be comfortable for the president and his family, giving them all the opportunity to put their feet up and relax while traveling from place to place.
It’s also designed with guests in mind and the president’s guests are treated as though they are at a five-star resort. In addition, journalists and other staff are treated well, and even have their own cabins in the back of the plane.
It’s Essentially A Flying House
Air Force One is large enough to be a pretty substantially sized house, except it flies thousands of feet in the air. It has three stories and is over 4,0000 square feet in area, definitely not very cramped quarters for the president and others on the plane.
The president also has a large office, his own bathroom, and a massive conference room. Special guests also receive private quarters which are nothing short of what you’d find in a luxury hotel. Sure beats flying coach!
There’s More Than Enough Room
While Air Force One can hold hundreds of people relatively comfortably, in reality, it can only safely seat 70. This means sitting in one of the more typical airplane seats. However, the living quarters can accommodate more people such as senior advisors, Secret Service officers, reporters, and political guests.
This means that not everybody has a designated seat with a seat belt, with the central seating area of the plane being reserved for the president and their family.
“Special Mission 41”
After former President George H.W. Bush died on December 1, 2018, Air Force One was used to carry him one last time. In a sequence of flights dubbed “Special Mission 41,” the plane brought Bush from Houston, Texas, to Washington, D.C. It will then carry him back to Texas. He will be laid to rest at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, alongside his wife Barbara.
On December 3, 2018, Bush’s former spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted, “Air Force One has arrived in Houston for what will technically be called ‘Special Air Mission 41’ tomorrow and Wednesday. A beautiful day in Texas — ‘ceiling and visibility unlimited,’ Mr. President” ahead of the mission. Above, the sun rises as Air Force One waits for the honor guard to bring Bush aboard.
It’s Not A Cheap Airplane
In order to keep the airplane off the ground, staffed, and in working condition, it costs approximately $206,000 an hour to operate Air Force One. Compare that to the $20,000 an hour it costs for a regular commercial airline.
Within his first month in office, President Donald Trump’s traveling costs were upwards of $10 million. However, it’s important to keep in mind that presidential travel includes bringing hundreds of people on duty along with dozens of other aircraft that are in use at the same time.
Homeland Security Was Born On Air Force One
The Department of Homeland Security was established on board Air Force One in 2002 by President George W. Bush. It is a cabinet department of the United States federal government which is involved in anti-terrorism, border security, immigration, cyber-security, disaster prevention, and management.
It was established thousands of feet above Germany following the attacks of September 11th. The creation of this department has forever changed the way that the government functions and interacts with its citizens.
The Plane Is Nuclear Resistant
For obvious reasons, Air Force One is about as nuclear proof as the Oval Office is. Whether it’s on the ground or in the air, the plane has the ability to withstand a nuclear blast.
This has become necessary for anything that houses or transports the president and other high-ranking officials. The plane has been put through through rigorous tests mimicking the effects of a nuclear attack. Hopefully, it won’t ever be put to the ultimate test.
What Happens When A President Lands
When Air Force One is about to make a landing, the airport that is going to host the plane is made aware well beforehand. An hour before the plane is expected to land, the entire air space is cleared in order for a safe landing.
Once Air Force One lands, there is no help from outside services, as the airplane and staff are completely self-contained. After leaving the airplane, the president is then transferred to Cadillac One, also known as “The Beast.”
There’s A Miniature Hospital Onboard
In case anybody falls ill or if there are minor (or even serious) injuries, the airplane is equipped with a miniature hospital along with doctors that are on duty at all time. It’s crucial that the president and other members of staff have access to doctors, medicine, and any other first-aid that may be needed at any time.
Being ill isn’t really a valid excuse for a president to miss important meetings, so they are prepared for anything on Air Force One.
The Interior Design Is Thanks To Jackie Kennedy
Jackie Kennedy was an incredibly fashionable woman, known for her great taste in both fashion and interior design. While credited for establishing certain fashion trends and decorating the White House, she is also attributed with designing the interior of Air Force One.
She chose the carpet, china, crystals, and even the silverware. The USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio has all of her original furnishings, although much of the airplane today is still based on her original designs.
Air Force One Doubles As An Airborne Command Center
Air Force One has some of the most high-tech satellite communications and defensive measures in the world. Much of the technology and satellite communications on board are kept secret in order to protect the plane during an attack.
However, the plane also has classified technology if it needs to fight back, although these secret weapons are unknown. The plane also has the abilities to command other air forces, although most of these commands will never be revealed.
They Keep It Stocked With The President’s Favorite Food
It’s no surprise to learn that Air Force One is always kept stocked with the president’s favorite treats or food. In the case of Ronald Reagan, who was known as “The Jelly Bean President,” there was a fresh jar of jelly beans waiting for him every time he boarded the plane.
His love for jelly beans came from when he was given some while touring the White House as a young boy. He later said, “I didn’t know then, but the jelly beans were much more than a sweet treat, they represented the uniqueness and greatness of America.” That’s high praise for a candy!
There Are Three Presidential Planes
Because one presidential plane might be too exposed to those who would do it harm, there are actually two Air Force Ones. However, only one of them is the real deal and transports the president.
They fly together so that nobody can tell which one the president is in. There is also a jet called “The Gulfstream” which supposedly trails the other two planes, although the government and Air Force deny its existence.
George Bush Senior Banned Something On The Plane
During his presidency, H.W. Bush banned a few things. For one, he banned broccoli from the White House, as well as on board Air Force One. He claimed that he didn’t want the vegetable anywhere near anything that his chefs were cooking for him.
As you can imagine, being an order from the President of the United States, you wouldn’t see so much as a stem of broccoli on the airplane or being consumed by anyone near the president.
President Ford Always Managed To Sneak His Favorite Drink On
Even though Coors beer could only be legally sold in select states, President Ford always made sure that he had plenty of it when he went to visit states where it wasn’t available.
Even if they ran out, they made sure some got on board somehow before he entered the plane to leave. Apparently, Eisenhower was a big fan of the beer as well and was known to have it stocked in his personal refrigerators on Air Force One.
Donald Trump’s Private Jet And Air Force One
In classic Trump fashion, Donald Trump decided that he needed his own airplane to put Air Force One to shame. So, he bought a jetliner that he calls The “Trump Force One.” The aircraft is a 757 that was bought from Microsoft’s Paul Allen.
It is lined in gold plating and covered in the Trump family crest. He has revealed that “it’s bigger than Air Force One,” with Rolls-Royce engines and seating for 43. The plane was featured on the Discovery Channel and called the “world’s most luxurious jetliner.”
The Doomsday Plane
Protecting the President of the United States and high-ranking officials is of the utmost important when traveling. For this reason, Air Force One has backup protection known as the “Doomsday Plane” with the call sign E-4B.
The planes follow behind Air Force One, and is designed to stay in the air for days if the need arises. The only function of this plane is to protect Air Force One, should the aircraft come into danger.
It’s A Flying Fortress
While Air Force One is a convenient way for the president and their family and guests to reach necessary destinations, it’s also extremely safe. Every window on their aircraft is heavily armored and is resistant to bullets and explosions. In addition, the aircraft is equipped with flares that can be released in order to confuse incoming enemy missiles.
In order to prevent sabotage, the plane also has its own retractable staircase that can only be opened from within in order to eliminate total reliance on airport staircases.
There’s No Shortage Of TVs
Air Force One has twenty TVs on board. Each TV is strategically placed throughout the plane so that passengers are able to see one at any given time. While this may seem like overkill, this is mostly for the president, press, and staff that need to constantly stay up to date with breaking news and broadcasts.
When it comes to being president, flying on an airplane is no excuse to not know what’s going on around the world at all times.
The Age Of The Plane Is Causing Issues
According to a report, both Planes with the call sign Air Force One are highly customized Boeing 747-200B jets. The two planes were purchased under the Reagan administration, although they didn’t go into service until 1990 under George H.W.’s administration.
However, since the planes have been in use, Boeing has stopped all production of its 747-200 style jet. Because of this, replacement parts have become increasingly more difficult to come by. At times, parts have even been salvaged from other condemned planes.
Planning For The Future
With the increasing problems of finding the right parts for the current Air Force One fleet, it was decided that a new set of planes were needed. During President Obama’s term, an order was placed for two replacements to the fleet.
The new planes were built based on the new Boeing 747-8 series, a newer version than the previous styles. Both planes are estimated to cost at least $3 billion to make, and won’t come into service until well into 2024.
The American public was shocked when they heard this news about some new additions to Air Force One. It was reported that Air Force One was in need of new refrigerators. No big deal, right? Well, it turns out that they cost $12 million each. Boeing is now in charge of the design and engineering of these refrigerators.
While this may sound over-the-top, the reasoning is that in case of an emergency, the plane needs to be able to feed the passengers and crew for weeks on end without having to resupply.
It’s Always In Perfect Condition
Given the importance of Air Force One, it’s constantly being worked on to make sure that it is in the best condition possible at all times. This is in order to make the plane as safe as possible, as well as to keep up appearances.
Other than keeping the plane looking clean both inside and out, there is a group of contractors in charge of checking every inch of the plane, even chemically testing the fuel that goes into it. When not in use, the planes are heavily guarded in a hangar outside of Washington, DC.
Cutting Back On Expenses
There’s no denying that Air Force One is incredibly costly to run. In the 2016 fiscal year alone, it was estimated to cost $180,000 per hour of use. Because of the high cost, lawmakers have been asking for presidents to take into account what is really necessary to have on board and see if they can cut back on unnecessary spending.
However, the discussion of what is considered frivolous spending on Air Force One is no new argument and will surely continue for the foreseeable future.
When the president travels on Air Force One, he rarely does so without his usual team of people. More often than not, he is joined by senior aids, national security, along with economic, and domestic advisers. It is also well known that presidents tend to travel with a group of press members as well.
The press members provide updates on the president’s travels so he doesn’t go rogue while traveling. Altogether, there are around 13 people joining the president on each of his trips.
The presidential vehicle is known as “The Beast,” and goes wherever the president goes, without exception. This is so that the Secret Service will be able to protect the president as best as possible during vehicular transport.
When the president exits Air Force One, “The Beast” is there waiting for him to take him wherever he is going next. The vehicle is sent ahead of the president by military cargo plane. This is so the car is already there well before the president even arrives.
Air Force One Has A Long History
Although some people believe otherwise, Air Force One has actually been around for many decades. The concept behind Air Force One was headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt during his presidency. He formed the Presidential Pilot Office, which became the Presidential Airlift Group in 1944. During that time, those planes were mostly propeller-driven.
It wasn’t until JFK’s administration that a president flew in a jet decked out in the Air Force One white and blue color scheme. JFK’s airplane was a modified Boeing 707 jet which has been changed numerous times since.
Keeping Up With The Times
The consistent ordering of new planes to serve as Air Force One is not a new concept. Since the first presidential planes, administrations have continued to place orders for faster, sleeker, and newer models. This goes for the entire Air Force, not necessarily just Air Force One.
The biggest problem this creates, however, is meeting the technical requirements for a plane to be suitable for use by the president. After years of debate, the Air Force finally announced that Boeing would be their exclusive manufacturer in the future.
Following The Rules
Although the president has the power to chose the type of aircraft they want to serve as their Air Force One, they don’t get to change the standards of the airplane or the requirements that it’s expected to meet.
The purchase of a plane must be made within the second term of the sitting president so that the president is actually prevented from using the plane they chose. Therefore, they’re essentially ordering an airplane for future presidents. Presidents such as Eisenhower, Reagan, and Obama, have set aside money in their second term for future planes.
Bill Clinton’s Haircut Debaucle
Something that got Bill Clinton into a little trouble was when he decided to get a haircut aboard Air Force One. However, the issue was that he got a haircut when the airplane was stationary at LAX. By doing this, it caused a major problem for outgoing and incoming aircraft.
Air Traffic controllers were scrambling trying to make sure that no other planes were coming and going during his haircut, creating a huge mess. It also caused a major frustration among passengers whose flights were then delayed.
There’s Assigned Seating
Believe it or not, there is actually assigned sitting for the passengers riding on Air Force One. Assigned seating is not new, nor is it set in stone. Each administration tends to create their own rules with regards to who sits where on the airplane.
Although it’s not required, it’s a tradition that every president has participated in since the establishment of Air Force One. Most seats are reserved for press pool passengers and the Secret Service, with the president and his advisers having their own area.
Keeping The President Occupied
Of course, when they’re not busy running the country on Air Force One, presidents have to find ways to preoccupy themselves. In the case of Bill Clinton, he liked to bring his saxophone and his love for jazz onto the aircraft.
Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon for the former president to whip out his saxophone and play some music on his longer flights. Some sources claim that his bad hearing often caused him to play extra loud.
The Right Of Way
While flying, Air Force One has the right of way — no questions asked. The plane has priority over all of the airspace in the country and also in various parts of the world. The pilots never have to worry about crowded airspace because it’s all shut down in any area that they’re flying through.
Before the plane even takes off, all the airspace ahead is cleared. The same applies whether the plane is either departing or landing. For this reason, the plane usually lands at military air bases.
You Can’t Miss It
You’ll know that you’re looking at Air Force One when you see it. It has unmistakable blue, white, silver, and gold painting and is hand polished nearly every day. It’s a beautiful aircraft that catches the eye of all who see it.
The airplane must always look in top condition because it is a symbol of America and the president who is riding in it. The status of the plane is also a symbol of the United State’s military and economic power and is unmatched for the most part.
Air Force One Has Seen Incredible Moments In History
Countless historical moments have occurred aboard Air Force One. In 1974, presidential leadership was turned over when Richard Nixon transferred the power of the presidency over to Gerald Ford.
This was an incredible moment in American history and it took place on Air Force One. In addition, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States aboard Air Force One after the assassination of John F. Kennedy that same day.
The Time That Air Force One Wasn’t Used
Air Force One is supposed to be the one and only form of air travel for the President of the United States, and that’s that. However, during Nixon’s presidency, he tried to send a political-economic message to the people and traveled using United Airlines.
Even though he was trying to send a good message, his decision was not appreciated by his administration and fellow representatives. Since he was not traveling on Air Force One, the plane he was using was given the call sign of Executive One.