The White House says it on their own website: "Air Force One is one of the most recognizable symbols of the presidency." We'll finish their thought: "...due to Harrison Ford."
From its humble beginnings as an amphibious sea boat to its use with the Obama administration today, the president's Boeing VC-25 stands on its own as one of the most iconic and well-crafted airplanes in the world. And while you may recall President Harrison Ford politely asking Russian terrorist Gary Oldman to get off his plane, you might not actually know much more.
1. The first presidential plane was amphibious
Delivered in 1933, the Douglas Dolphin was an amphibious "flying boat" that had a luxurious upholstered interior, fit for only four passengers and contained a small sleeping compartment. Despite the fact the Dolphin remained in use until 1939, there were no reports of any presidents actually flying in the thing.
2. Air Force One was first dubbed the "Sacred Cow"
The first presidential plane, a C-54 Skymaster known as "The Sacred Cow", included a passenger compartment with a large desk and a bulletproof window. The Sacred Cow first flew in 1945 and could only hit a top speed of 300 mph.
3. FDR was the first president to have his own plane
Roosevelt only rode the aircraft once before his death in 1945 and the Sacred Cow remained in use for only two years, until the Truman Administration. Fun fact: Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to ever fly in an airplane (in the year 1910).
4. It's named Air Force One for a reason
After an incident in which a Lockheed Constellation (pictured above) carrying President Eisenhower entered the same airspace-using the same call sign as a commercial airline, it was decided to call all presidential planes under the radio call name of "Air Force One" to avoid any future mix-ups. The first flight under the call name of Air Force One happened in 1959.
5. The Kennedys redesigned the plane
More specifically Jackie Kennedy. She, along with French designer Raymond Loewy, redesigned the plane from the inside out, and were responsible for "United States of America" on the sides of the aircraft, as well as the American flag on the tail. Some say they added in a secret sex dungeon in the baggage area, but those claims are also wildly inaccurate.
6. There's no escape pod on board
Despite what the f*cking awesome 1997 thriller, Air Force One, led us to believe, Air Force One does not come with an escape pod on board. This plane functions like all other commercial airlines—the pilot is trained to steer the plane to safety with the president on board in an emergency.
7. Air Force One is ready for disaster
This plane is designed to withstand any kind of air attack. The skin on the outside protects against electromagnetic pulses and the onboard electronics emits electronic counter measures to jam enemy radar—plus defensive flares can be fired to throw off heat-seeking missiles.
8. Air Force One is 4,000 square feet of luxury
The 4,000 square feet of floor space is divided up among three levels: there's the President's office, a conference room, bedroom, bathroom, gym, 85 onboard telephones, 19 televisions, an assortment of two-way radios, fax machines, computers, and an operating room complete with an onboard doctor. The plane has enough food to feed up to 100 people at any given time and over 53,000 gallons of fuel for any and all possible scenarios.
9. This airplane is a beast
On one tank of fuel, Air Force One can reach a top speed of 650 mph (about 40 mph faster than a Boeing 747), can fly at 45,000 feet, and can reach a total distance of 7,800 miles—plus it can be re-fueled in mid-air. That means you can go to Washington D.C. to Vietnam on one tank of fuel.
10. Air Force Two doesn't serve alcohol
The Vice President might feel a little useless at some points, which must feel especially rough during his time spent in the air—a crucial difference between Air Force One and Air Force Two is a distinct lack of alcohol. In a 2012 article, Bloomberg Business wrote: "a reporter [attempted] to order a well-known domestic beer [and] was told adult beverages are not served on Air Force Two." Bummer city.
11. There are two planes for the Commander-in-Chief
There are nearly identical Boeing 747-200B jets—one that carries the tail codes 28000 and the other 29000. Both planes have the same structure and capabilities.
12. It's extremely hard to get onboard Air Force One
The plane's crew members are cleared military personnel who—even when preparing food— operate under a high level of security for fear of cross-contamination or poisoning. Journalists and even visiting politicians aren't allowed on the same floor as the President. Guests in his private chambers are limited to his spouse and probably your mom.
Jeremy Glass is the Vice editor for Supercompressor and his favorite Harrison Ford movie is Mosquito Coast. If you wished this was an article about trivia from Air Force One (the movie), you can find that here.
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