Air Force One — technically whatever plane the President is on board but currently a Boeing 747-200 (and eventually a new 747-8) — costs over $200,000 an hour to operate. Speaking of ‘operate’ there’s an onboard operating room staffed by a doctor whenever the plane is in flight.
There’s 4000 square feet of interior space. The President has an office, there’s a ‘situation room’ and a staff quarters spread out over three stories. There are actually two planes that each serve as Air Force One so that one can always be ready to fly.
The name was adopted in 1953, after a commercial plane, Eastern Air Lines Flight 8610, entered President Eisenhower’s airspace when he was on board his plane, which had a similar name — Air Force 8610. After the incident, the term “Air Force One” was coined to avoid any confusion about which aircraft is carrying the commander-in-chief.
Up until 1962, though, the President flew in a commercially-produced plane. The first jet customized for Presidential use was a Boeing 707 which debuted in 1962. First Lady Jackie Kennedy “commissioned designer Raymond Loewy to create a new interior..and she oversaw the redesign of the blue exterior that still makes Air Force One so recognizable today.”
Air Force One is a serious fighting fortress.
- The windows are armored. Each exit has its own retractable staircase so there’s never a risk that air stairs brought to the plane could have been sabotaged.
- The body of of each aircraft can stand up to the force of a nuclear blast on the ground. Inflight, the wings have mirror ball technology that can scramble missile guidance systems. The wings also contain countermeasures, similar to a submarine, to send enemy missiles off course. The plane is capable of jamming enemy radar.
- The plane can re-fuel midair and stay inflight indefinitely.
- The Doomsday Plane follows behind Air Force One. The Boeing E-4 is a specially modified Boeing 747-200B airborne command post.
In 2016 Snopes had to debunk a story claiming that Cuban refugees had stowed away on board the President’s plane seeking refuge in the U.S. It was insane, but people believed it.