Thursday, 3 August 2017

Finance: With a new Air Force One on the way, here's a look back at its incredible history


Air Force One is a traveling symbol of America power. The President's Boeing 747s are an engineering masterpiece.

On Wednesday, Boeing and the US Air Force confirmed that they are close to a deal for two Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental commercial airliners that will be converted over to serve as the nation's next generation presidential transports.

The two brand-new jumbo jets were abandoned after Russia's Transaero airline bust in 2015. At the time, Boeing had already built two of the four 747s Transaero had on order. So instead of delivering the planes, Boeing completed flight testing and sent them to the California desert where they have been waiting for a new buyer. Now it seems the planes are now destined to take on the call sign, Air Force One.

Air Force One is instantly recognizable — both as the airplane of the President of the United States and as a flying symbol of American military and economic might. With its hand-polished blue, white, and silver livery, it boldly proclaims the arrival of the powerful man in the world.

What many people don't know is that there isn't one, but two nearly identical Boeing jets that serve as the official transport of the president. Normally, the planes are referred to by their tail numbers — 28000 and 29000 — but when the Commander and Chief steps on board, they take on the call sign "Air Force One." In fact, presidential airplanes didn't begin using the Air Force One designation until 1959.

The president's pair of Boeing VC-25A jets are operated by the Presidential Airlift Group out of Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. While the current Boeing 747-based planes have been in service for more than two decades, they're simply the latest in a long-line of flying White Houses.

Here's a look back at the history America's presidential airplanes.

Today, presidential air travel is a massive, highly coordinated operation. However, this wasn't always the case.

It all started with Theodore Roosevelt — a true American pioneer. The 26th president was the first to fly in an airplane. More than a year after leaving office, he flew in a Wright Flyer on October 10, 1910.


It wasn't until 1933 that the government actually acquired an aircraft specifically for presidential travel. That year, a Douglas Dolphin amphibious plane — similar to the one pictured below — was specially outfitted for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Unfortunately, FDR never flew in the Dolphin.

Popular Mechanics

Instead, the first official presidential flight took place on January 14, 1943 when FDR crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a Boeing 314 Clipper— similar to the one pictured below — on a trip to Casablanca, Morocco.

History Channel

The first aircraft to be custom built for presidential use was a Douglas VC-54C nicknamed "Sacred Cow." The Sacred Cow famously transported Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference.

US Air Force Museum

On July 4, 1947, Truman replaced the Sacred Cow with a new aircraft — a Douglas VC-118. The new plane was christened "Independence" after the 33rd president's hometown in Missouri. On August 31 of that year, it made its first official presidential trip to a conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The VC-118 is a civilian Douglas DC-6 — the 26th to roll off the production line — that was modified on orders from the Air Force for presidential duty. The Independence has room for 24 seated passengers or 12 sleeper berths.

It also features dedicated meeting space for the president and...

... A full kitchen. The aircraft served in the presidential fleet until 1953.

That year, a Lockheed Constellation — christened "Columbine II" after the state flower of Colorado — took over the presidential flying duties. In 1953, an air traffic controller confused the airplane carrying President Eisenhower with an Eastern Airlines flight using a similar call sign. The incident helped bring about the use of the designation "Air Force One."

Fox News

In November of 1954, the US Air Force took delivery of a new personal aircraft for President Eisenhower — a heavily modified Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation called the VC-121E. In fact, it was the only VC-121E ever built. Christened the "Columbine III", the Lockheed plane served the president until 1961.

US Air Force Museum

The VC-121E would be the last non-jet-powered plane to serve as the official presidential aircraft.

That's because on October 10, 1962, the US Air Force and President John F. Kennedy took delivery a new Boeing 707-320B-based VC-137C known as Special Air Mission or SAM 26000.

US Air Force Museum

Even though President Eisenhower had been known to use Air Force Boeing VC-137A jets during his time in office, SAM 26000 was first purpose-built presidential jet transport.

Decked out in blue, white, and silver with the words "United States of America" emblazoned on its side, SAM 26000's livery became the most iconic in aviation history. The airplane's look is the brainchild of legendary industrial designer Raymond Loewy. Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is also said to have contributed to the stunning design.

New York Times

Unfortunately, President Kennedy didn't get to use SAM 26000 for very long. The 35th President of the United States was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn-in as the 36th commander-in-chief aboard the SAM 26000.

The aircraft was also tasked with transporting President Kennedy's body back to Washington. Here, the president's coffin is unloaded at Andrews Air Force Base under the guidance of the First Lady.

Post-Kennedy, SAM 26000 went on to serve as the primary presidential aircraft for the Johnson...

... and the majority of the Nixon administration.

In fact, 26000 took President Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972.

During its 36-year career, SAM 26000 flew eight sitting presidents including Ford, Nixon, and Carter — pictured here.

In 1972, President Nixon took delivery of a second VC-137C call sign SAM 27000. The new plane took over as the president's primary aircraft with SAM 26000 serving as the backup.

Unfortunately for President Nixon, the jet was also tasked with taking him home to California after his resignation in 1974. As President Ford was sworn in, the pilot of the aircraft famously called in to air traffic control to announce that the flight's call sign had changed from Air Force One to SAM 27000. As a result, SAM 27000 made 1,440 takeoffs as Air Force One, but only made 1439 landings with the presidential callsign.


The president that clocked the most miles on board SAM 27000 was Ronald Reagan.

The White House

Which is why the plane can now be found at the Reagan Presidential Library.

By the mid-1980s, the Air Force's fleet of VC-137Cs were beginning to show their age.

Which is why President Reagan and the US Air Force ordered a pair of new presidential jets based on the most recognizable airplane the United States has ever produced — the Boeing 747.

After several delays, the duo of Boeing 747-200 derived VC-25A jets entered service in 1990 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The two planes — SAM 28000 and SAM 29000 — remain in service today. The flying Oval Offices feature 4,000 square feet of interior space incorporating presidential living quarters, work areas, meeting rooms, and 2 galleys capable of serving 100 people at a time.

In addition, the planes feature midair refueling capabilities, advanced satellite communications, self-sufficiency capabilities at foreign airports, electronics countermeasures, and missile defense systems.

Thus far, the VC-25As have served Presidents George H.W. Bush...

... Bill Clinton...

... George W. Bush and ...

... Barack Obama.

President-elect Donald Trump will be the next president to travel aboard the VC-25A.

However, with more than a quarter century under its belt, the VC-25A's time as the primary presidential transport is drawing to an end.

In 2015, the US Air Force announced that it will order a pair of new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental-based presidential aircraft set to enter service in 2024.

from - Nigeria's entertainment & lifestyle platform online

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