The aircraft of the President of the United States: a review, description, characteristics and interesting facts


The aircraft of the President of the United States is a bright symbol of the United States in general and the office of the first person in particular. Whenever the head of state goes abroad or around the country, he is provided with a high-tech and luxurious airbus. On September 11, a memorable day, George W. Bush’s aircraft showed that it was much more than a jet - the Boeing 747 became a mobile bunker when all ground positions seemed to be vulnerable to attack.

So what is the difference between the "Number One" and other airliners, and what is required for the head of state to fly around the world? Considering how much the plane is carrying by the president of the United States, it’s not surprising that the media calls it “the flying White House”.

What is the "Board number one"?

Most people have a general idea that the president’s plane is a flying office with all kinds of high-tech equipment. But there are two significant facts about which the general public knows little.

Technically, "Board number one" is not an airplane. It is a radio call sign of any aircraft of the United States Air Force carrying the President of the United States. As soon as the head of state is on a flying vehicle, it is referred to by the crew and all controllers as Air Force One (Air Force No. 1) to avoid confusion with any other aircraft in the area. If the president moves in an army aircraft, then it is called "Army 1", and every time he takes his specialized helicopter, he becomes "Airborne No. 1". But civilians call it "Boeing 747" itself.


US President's aircraft: characteristics

To date, there are two airliners that regularly fly under this designation - almost identical "Boeing 747-200B". The aircraft themselves are designated VC-25A with tail numbers 28000 and 29000.

These two aircraft have the same general construction of a conventional "Boeing 747-200B" and similar characteristics. They have almost the same height of a six-story building (19.8 m) and the length of a city block (70.66 m). Each of them has four General Electric CF6-80C2B1 jet engines, which provide thrust of 252 kN each. The maximum speed is in the range from 1014 to 1127 km / h and the maximum ceiling is 13747 m. Each plane carries 203, 129 liters of fuel. The aircraft weighs 377, 842 kg in a state fully equipped for long-distance flights. With a full tank, an aircraft can fly half the world (12553 km).

Like the normal Boeing 747s, these planes have three levels. But inside the "Board number 1" is completely different from commercial airliners.


Inside the Air Force One

The aircraft of the President of the United States, the cabin of which has a useful area of ​​371 square meters. m., in many ways more like a hotel or office than a jet airliner, with the exception of seat belts on all chairs. The lowest level is mainly used for the transport of goods. Most of the passenger premises are at the middle level, and the communications equipment is mainly located on the upper one.

The president has living quarters on board, including his bedroom, bathroom, gym and office space. Most of the furniture on the plane is made by hand by cabinetmakers.

The staff gathers in a large conference room, which also serves as a dining room. The higher ranks have their own offices, and the rest of the employees of the presidential administration also have places to work and rest. There is a separate area for accompanying reporters, as well as enough space for staff duties. In general, the aircraft of the President of the United States can comfortably carry 70 passengers and 26 crew members.


Hollywood version

"Board number one" was shown from the inside in a 1997 eponymous Hollywood film with Harrison Ford as president of the United States. Although some of the details of the scenery remotely resembled the original, the director of the painting gave free rein to artistic creation. A real aircraft does not have a rescue capsule, as shown in the film, or even parachutes. Of course, the rescue capsule is not the thing to talk about.


The aircraft of the President of the United States is shrouded in some mythical, mysterious halo, largely because access to it for most people is limited. Even invited politicians and journalists are not allowed in some of its parts, and the Air Force is careful enough to hide specific details of the layout of the aircraft. What secrets does the US president's plane keep? A number of official and unofficial sources have published a general description of what is inside the "Border No. 1", but no one, as far as is known, has said exactly how these parts relate to each other. And even if someone had done it, he would probably have received polite advice to hide this information for reasons of national security.

This is what we know: like the usual Boeing 747, the aircraft of the President of the United States is divided into three decks inside. And, as can be ascertained from the television broadcasts, passengers enter it through three doors. Usually, the head of state, welcoming those who meet, uses the door on the middle deck, to which a self-propelled passenger ladder approaches. Journalists enter through the back door, where they immediately climb the ramp to the middle deck. Most of the press area looks like a first-class section in a regular jet airliner, with comfortable, spacious seating.

Logically, things should also be:

  • staff area;
  • onboard kitchen;
  • conference room and dining room;
  • the number of the president and his office;
  • space for work and rest of the crew.

And, of course, there must be a communication center, cabin and cockpit, as in an ordinary commercial airliner.

Along with the unconventional use of passenger space, "Board number 1" is crammed with a variety of technologies that distinguish it from a regular jet aircraft.


Special features

Since the "Board number 1" transports the president, some trips can be quite long, and the plane has a number of special functions, many of which are absent on civil aircraft.

The crew prepares food in two fully equipped kitchens. A large amount of food is stored in freezers on the lower deck. The crew can feed up to 100 people at a time, and the storage facility allows us to have a reserve for 2, 000 servings.

Many technologies are involved in the medical compartment. Here is an extensive pharmacy, a lot of equipment for emergency care, and even a folding operating table. The crew also includes a doctor who travels with the president, wherever he goes. Taking off, the aircraft is as prepared for all possible unforeseen situations as possible.

In contrast to the usual "Boeing 747", "Board number 1" is equipped with its own retractable ladders for landing and disembarking in front and behind. Gangways open onto the lower deck, and crew and staff climb the internal stairs to reach the upper deck. The aircraft also has its own luggage loader. With such additions, "Board number 1" does not depend on airport services that may pose a security risk.


Electronic filling

The most remarkable feature of the aircraft is its electronics. It includes 85 on-board telephones, a collection of walkie-talkies, fax machines and computer connections. There are also 19 televisions and a variety of office equipment. The telephone system is connected to land lines of regular and government communications. The president and his staff can talk to anyone in the world, traveling at cruising speeds a few kilometers above the ground.

The work of on-board electronics is provided by about 380 km of wires (two times more than in the usual "Boeing 747"). Shielding is sufficient to protect the equipment from the electromagnetic pulse produced by a nuclear explosion.

Another feature is the ability to refuel in flight. Like the B-2 or other combat aircraft, this allows the ship to remain in the air indefinitely, which can be crucial in an emergency.

One of the most interesting elements of the "Board number 1" - advanced avionics and means of protection - are classified. But the Air Force claimed that the aircraft was certainly a military one, and was designed to withstand an air attack. In addition, it is equipped with an electronic jamming system, which is capable of jamming enemy radars. The aircraft is also capable of shooting infrared traps to divert thermal-guided missiles.

Flight preparation

Each flight of the "Board number 1" is classified as a military operation and is carried out accordingly. Soldiers at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland thoroughly examine the aircraft and the runway before departure.

When it is time to take off, the presidential helicopter delivers the first face of the state from the White House to Andrews air base. The base staff monitors unauthorized aircraft nearby and has the right to shoot them down without warning.

Before each flight of the Air Force No.1, the Air Force sends C141 Starlifter cargo planes to the destination, carrying the president’s motorcade. It includes a collection of bulletproof limousines and wagons loaded with weapons, to ensure the safety of the head of state on earth.

The president always arrives at the base with a “football” - a small suitcase in which codes for nuclear deployment are stored. The Air Force officer guards him throughout the entire flight, before handing him over to the army officer on the ground.


Privilege to work with the president

Like an ordinary jet liner, the aircraft of the first person of the country is served by the flight crew, and the stewards prepare and serve food, and also clean the aircraft. They are carefully selected from military personnel with an impeccable reputation. Crew members who prepare food must maintain a high level of safety. For example, buying food, they work under cover and choose supermarkets randomly to prevent poisoning attempts. The aircraft of the President of the United States is served steeper than a five-star hotel.

Crew members enjoy a very rare privilege - they work with the head of state when he is in the most vulnerable state. Each president, starting with Harry Truman, maintained close ties with his flight crew, and the last flight was always emotional.

Plane President: the story of the American "Board number 1"

Up until World War II, the heads of the United States rarely traveled far from home. Visiting other states took too much time and cut off the head of the country from the main institutions of government.

The development of aviation has allowed the president to move around the globe and return to the United States in a short time. In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt became the first acting head of state to take to the air, setting out on a flying ship, the Boeing 314, to a conference in Casablanca.

Roosevelt decided to take this step, because German submarines made the seas too dangerous. But the success of the mission made the flights the standard way of moving the head of state. Soon the government decided to allocate to the president a special military aircraft. The Air Force initially chose C-87A Liberator Express, a B-24 bomber configured for civilian use, dubbed “Guess Where”.

After the other C-87A crashed under mysterious circumstances, the security service decided that the aircraft was not reliable enough for the president. Soon for Roosevelt, the C-54 Skymaster was prepared, which included bedrooms, a radio telephone and a retractable wheelchair elevator. The plane, nicknamed the “Sacred Cow, ” carried the head of state on a number of important missions, including the historic Yalta Conference.

President Truman "Sacred Cow" was inherited, but then it was replaced by a modified DC-6, called "Independence". Unlike the previous aircraft, the new "Airborne No.1" was distinguished by a patriotic coloring with the image of an eagle's head on its nose. Eisenhower was provided with two identical propeller aircraft with modernized equipment, including telephone and teletype.


From Eisenhower to Obama

In 1958, the Air Force provided two Boeing-707s. This was a significant step forward compared with previous aircraft. It was then that the call sign "Board number 1" began to be used, and the public accepted this name after Kennedy took office.

At the beginning of his term, Kennedy added a more advanced, distant Boeing 707, and also oversaw a change in aesthetic design - blue and white inlay, used to this day.

This aircraft and its twin, adopted in the air fleet in 1972, played a role in a number of the most important historical events of the last 50 years. The Boeing 707 transported Kennedy to Dallas on November 22, 1963, and took his body back the same day. In flight, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the next US president. The same plane carried Nixon from DC to California after his resignation. Halfway through, the crew received confirmation that Gerald Ford was sworn in as the next president, and the aircraft call signs were changed to SAM (special air mission) 27, 000.

The Boeing 707 served Reagan for two terms and George Bush Sr. during his first term. In 1990, the outdated 707 was replaced by a "Boeing 747" - the plane of US President Barack Obama, used today.

The next change of the head of state’s aviation fleet was planned in 2010 after 20 years of flights. If we compare the aircraft of the presidents of different countries, the United States does not distinguish the special novelty of aircraft. For example, the more modern Boeing 747-400 are available to the Prime Minister of Japan, the King of Bahrain, the Sultan of Brunei, the King of Oman, the King of Saudi Arabia, and others. On January 28, 2015, the Air Force announced that the next presidential aircraft would be " Boeing 747-8. "

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