Most Americans are familiar with Air Force One. It’s the big jet that the President uses for all his air travel. Many folks probably don’t give it much thought, preferring perhaps to focus on where the President is going and what he will be doing rather than the aircraft itself.
Air Force One, however, has a storied history and many interesting facts. Many of these points of interest were recently discussed in a Robb Report article. Here are a few of them:
Is there only one Air Force One?
At the present, two aircraft serve as Air Force One. Each one is a Boeing VC-25. In fact, Air Force One is a call-sign, not an aircraft. Any well-maintained aircraft can serve as Air Force One.
How big and fast are the Boeing VC-25’s?
The VC-25’s, first put into service under George H. W. Bush, have 4,000 square feet of space, three floors, and can accommodate 70 passengers as well as the crew of twenty-six. Normal cruising speed is 557 mph, but these jets can go as fast as 500 mph or more.
When was the President’s plane first called Air Force One?
The call-sign Air Force One was first used in 1953 when President Eisenhower was in office.
Who was the last President to fly commercial?
Not since 1973, when President Richard Nixon flew in on United flight, has any president flown in a commercial aircraft while in office.
Who was the first president to fly in an aircraft?
Franklin Roosevelt was the first sitting president to fly. He did so in 1943 when he flew in a Pan Am Boeing 314 to Morocco to attend a conference.
Have foreign heads of state flown in Air Force One?
Several foreign dignitaries have flown in the presidential aircraft. Among these are Leonid Brezhnev in 1973, Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 and David Cameron in 2012.
The current Boeing VC-25’s have been in use for some time and will soon be replaced by two more-up-to-date Boeing 747-8’s that are already built. These jets were originally ordered by a now-bankrupt Russian airline company, but they were never delivered. They will be completely retrofitted with new interiors and state-of-the-art communications and security before being put into service.