The Term Air Force One

Air Force One

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It does not matter what Air Force aircraft the President flies in, when he is on board the aircraft’s call sign changes to Air Force One. The term also refers to the fleet of aircraft that are used to transport the United States President. One of the symbols of the American Presidency is Air Force One and it reflects power with the prominent symbol.

Air Force One History

The idea came up back in 1943 when safety became a concern for the United States President flying on commercial aircraft. In 1943 the United States Army Air Forces (the name before it was changed to U.S. Air Force) wanted presidential transport to be safer and more secure. The first aircraft selected was a C-87 Liberator Express and was outfitted for presidential transport. The aircraft’s safety record prompted the Secret Service to reject using the aircraft. Later a C-54 Skymaster was selected and outfitted to presidential use. It first was use to transport President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the C-54 was nicknamed the Sacred Cow. The Skymaster remained in service for another two years by President Harry S. Truman.

The Official Call Sign Air Force One

The unique call sign “Air Force One” came about involving an incident in 1953. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s airplane interred the same airspace as another commercial airliner created the incident. So from this time on “Air Force One” was chosen as the official call sign of the President’s aircraft to avoid and future confusion. There has been a number of aircraft to carry the call sign Air Force One since the creation of the Presidential fleet. The Presidential fleet since their delivery in 1990 has been two Boeing VC-25A 747-200B series aircraft. The 747’s are highly customized for presidential service. The current plan is to replace the VC-25s with three replacement aircraft by 2017.

Boeing VC-25/747 Presidential Aircraft

In 1985 President Ronald Reagan used two converted Boeing 707s and during his administration the USAF made a request for two wide body aircraft to replace them. The requirements were, they must have a range of 6000 miles and have a minimum of three engines. Two proposals were received on a replacement wide body aircraft one by McDonnell Douglas for a DC-10 and the second from Boeing with a 747. The Reagan Administration ordered two Boeing 747s to replace the old 707s. The First Lady Nancy Reagan submitted the interior designs that were used in the two aircraft. The newly designated VC-25As were delayed because they were updated with EMP (electromagnetic pulse) protection. President George H. W. Bush took delivery of the VC-25s in 1990 during his administration.

The presidential aircraft are maintained by the 89th Airlift Wing in Maryland at Andrews Air Force Base. A marvel of top-secret technology and security, Air Force One has flown U.S. presidents more than 7 million miles around the world.

With exclusive access, On Board Air Force One (2009) National Geographic joined the crew of Air Force One to document everything from the Presidents suite and kitchen galley to Secret Service travel preparation and flight strategy. For a very special mission, we also joined President George W. Bush's January 2008 Middle East trip to witness the commanding presence of the most exciting plane in the world.

Excitement Aboard Air Force One

What turned out to be a rather dramatic episode during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 the U.S. President George W. Bush was in Sarasota, Florida visiting Emma E. Booker Elementary School. The attack on the World Trade Center South Tower in NY interrupted his visit. Air Force One with Colonel Make Tillman in command received a warning from that another jet was very close to them and was not responding to calls from air traffic controllers. The warning said they are behind you and descending into Air Force One. It was also noted that their transponder was turned off and no one has any idea what to expect the terrorist’s abilities were.

So Colonel Tillman quickly flew off course out into the Gulf of Mexico to see if the Jet would follow. Thankfully they continued on their course. Anyway as the story was later told the Jet’s transponder was not working and the pilot had their radio set to the wrong frequency. So there was no threat to Air Force One at all.

But this was not the end of all the excitement, a short time later Col. Tillman got word of the threat of an attack on Air Force One. The message came through that “Angle was next”! The designated classified call sign for Air Force One was “Angle”. This event prompted Fighter aircraft support to join them in the Gulf. This was the only known time fighter aircraft joined Air Force One for a suspected threat. They aborted their flight back to Andrews Air Force base and instead landed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana then on to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The diversion was to ward of the threat of an attack when Air Force One returned to Andrews Air Force Base. The warning turned out to be a miss communication but was not discovered until much later.

At the end of President Bush’s second term one of the VC-25’s returned him to his home state of Texas. The VC-25’s official call sign was “Special Air Mission 28000”. Two other Presidents were transported to their home states when their terms ended. The other two Presidents were Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Air Force One’s Planned Replacement

The Boeing 747-200B aircraft have become somewhat expensive to operate because whenever the President travels both VC-25’s fly. Replacement requirements have been submitted by the USAF Mobility Command and Boeing is the only bidder on the new aircraft. They have submitted bids on the newer 747-8 and the 787 Dreamliner as replacements that could be available in 2017.

All the Best Air Force One Model Listings HERE:

Boeing B 2707 SST Air Force One Airplane Wood Model XXL Free Shipping
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