Air Force One is Far More Amazing Than You Realize

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.

air force one

I only recently learned how Air Force One got its name. (HT: Kalbozey)

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Here is some more interesting stuff:

    * There’s a shower for the President, albeit a small one. I doubt that Trump could fit in it and close the door.

    * There are no lie-flat seats, only recliners. The President has a bed roughly queen-size, in private quarters.

    * The media sits in coach, in the back.

    * There are imprinted items, like a deck of cards.

    * The decor is very 1970s. Lots of wood paneling, etc.

    * It’s staffed entirely by the military.

  2. Every time chump flies down to Mar-a-Lago it costs American taxpayers $300,000.
    Then the resort charges the Secret Service double what a normal room costs for his
    guardians at taxpayer expense.
    Isn’t he such a great guy?

  3. I’ve seen pictures of Trump’s proposed livery for the new AF-1. Red white and blue, it somewhat resembles the US Airways livery. They say the sky blue paint, especially the bottom, makes it more difficult to see. Lets hope Trump fails at making the livery on the new AF-1 part of his legacy. A

  4. Will be easier and cheaper to just commandeer an Acela for the Delaware trips when Biden wins in Nov

  5. @UA-NYC – 4 years ago you folks were blabbering about “when Hillary wins,” haven’t learned your lessons eh?

  6. If the press rides on AF – 1 they should pay a fee equal to a first class ticket for the distention.

  7. @Fred Eastern F Class? Ha ha that is not F Class! They are in Economy and have to work, there are no

    @rog it is not $300,000 it is $200,000 x 2.5 hrs. Each way = $1,000,000 plus all of South Florida has to close down when king trump goes to bigot golf course where they do not allow blacks and latinos in

  8. @Tom I don’t know where you got your figures but $150,000 for each plane equals $300,000. A 2 and a half hour trip to Florida would not cost what you’re quoting.

  9. @Jason – last time I checked the calendar, it’s 2020, not 2016.

    Quite the impressive “rally” last night wasn’t it? LOL. Stick a fork in him, 10-12 point lead that’s growing every incompetent month.

  10. My Tax Payer dollars at work for Agent Orange to gallivant and fly to his fave golf courses! What a waste of $$$$$$, while millions are starving!!

  11. Obama took the same planes vacationing in Hawaii, around the country, and on his many trips around the world where he sold America out to China and Mexico. The secret service demands the President be transported in a secure fashion.

  12. Technically Air Force One is any Air force plane that the President is on board – Not any plane
    Please correct the opening paragraph

  13. @Jackson – of course things like “facts” don’t stop the “whatabout-ism”, but just to bring some actual context in here:

    The $102 million paid by Americans to cover security and travel expenses on the golf trips during Trump’s almost two and half years in office was about $12.7 million less than what Barack Obama and his family spent on travel during Obama’s eight years in the White House, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog that relies on open records laws.

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