While presidential planes have been around since the 1900s, they’ve undergone many changes in the century since. Today’s Air Force One is built with technologies that early pilots and passengers couldn’t have ever imagined.
How much do you know about this famous United States symbol?
Let’s peek inside…
Flying High And Fast
Boeing 747s are capable of cruising at over 650 miles per hour, though people say that the planes could likely top out at 700 miles per hour—nearly supersonic speeds.
Several Houses Large
Air Force One could very well be larger than your childhood home. Measuring in at 4,000 square feet, the Boeing VC-25 airliners are gigantic.
The Flying White House
All of that room is devoted to two main decks and a cargo area, just like a regular Boeing 747. The floor space was reconfigured for presidential duties, though. It’s nothing like a standard passenger aircraft.
A Pair Of Twins
Two 747-200B planes are on hand at all times. The second aircraft can provide backup coverage or transport the Vice President. It’s called Air Force Two in these instances.
Medical Services Onboard
In case of sudden injuries or illness, medical services are available on Air Force One. The mobile medical suite includes a full surgical suite with an operating table, beds, resuscitation equipment, and a full pharmacy.
Usually Flying Solo
The United States Air Force does not typically escort the presidential aircraft while it’s flying over the United States, but it has happened before…
Flanked By Fighters On 9/11
In the midst of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Air Force pilots provided fighter support to protect against possible attacks on Air Force One.
Heavy And Huge
An Air Force One with a full load weighs in at 800,000 pounds and the 747’s tank holds 53,000 gallons of jet fuel.
Really, Really Thirsty
Airplanes like Boeing 747s use around one gallon of fuel every second. On a 10-hour flight, the plane will probably end up burning 36,000 gallons.
Maximum Cruising Altitude
Commercial airliners typically fly at 36,000 feet, but Boeing 747s reach heights of 45,000 feet and up. Around-the-world Air Force One flights reach these heights in order to maximize fuel efficiency.
Nuclear Resistance Measures
In the event of nuclear strikes, Air Force One is equipped to operate as a military command center. That means aerial refueling capability, anti-aircraft missile countermeasures, and electronics shielded from a nuclear electromagnetic pulse.
Plenty Of Guests
The United States President and his family are joined in flight by advisors, journalists, Secret Service agents, and senior officials. The plane has a crew and passenger capacity of 102.
Hungry? Two Kitchens In The Sky
Air Force One passengers enjoy the kinds of meals that we can only dream of while flying coach. Two kitchens provide service for nearly 100 passengers at a time.
Phones For Days
When you’re the president, you’ll never be more than a call away while flying on Air Force One. Around 85 secured and unsecured phone lines are available on the jet.
Inside The Presidential Quarters
The president’s living area contains beds, a private restroom, Situation Room, and a presidential office so large that it’s got room for a treadmill, brought out of storage for exercise during long flights.
It’s Still Full Of Secrets
While we know plenty of details about Air Force One, there are still many things that aren’t on the public record. You certainly can’t visit the plane on a whim and there are many things about it that are considered classified information.
Code Name “Angel”
It’s most commonly known as Air Force One, but this plane’s classified call name is Angel. It’s one of the safest places in the world for the president and their staff to be, after all.
The Limo Flies First Class
The “Beast,” a specially American-made presidential limo, flies ahead of Air Force One in a military cargo plane. The limo is in place on the tarmac once the president lands.
Like most military planes, Air Force One can be refueled midair with a gas pump connected by a second plane. The jumbo jet could possibly stay airborne for a couple of days.
When AF1 is departing or arriving at an airport, air traffic is usually halted. The presidential jet maintains priority over every other plane in the sky.
The plane often lands at military airports, but whenever it’s touching down at a commercial airport, you can bet that people will be hanging around to witness it and record footage.
The World’s Most Expensive Flight?
Recent estimates found that every single hour of Air Force One flight costs taxpayers around $200,000. It’s not cheap to fly when you’re the commander in chief.
Hat Tip To The Kennedys
John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie were the first presidential couple to really harness the power of Air Force One. Jackie designed the paint scheme for the plane’s exterior that’s still maintained today.
Time To Upgrade
The pair of Air Force One jets in operation today will need to be replaced soon. They’re over 25 years old and it’s becoming difficult to replace their parts.
Planning For The Future
President Barack Obama ordered a replacement fleet to be built within the next 12 years. The program will cost an estimated $3.7 billion—just a small portion of the United States’s entire $8 trillion defense budget.