Air Force One is a prominent symbol of the United States in general and the office of the presidency in particular. Whenever their president travels overseas or across the country, he takes his high-tech, deluxe jumbo jet with him. On September 11th, the president’s plane showed that it was much more than a luxurious jet — it became a mobile shelter when all ground locations seemed dangerous.
Here we’ll see how Air Force One is different from other planes. With all of the things that Air Force One carries, it’s no surprise that some people call it the “flying White House.”
What is Air Force One?
Most people have a general idea that their president’s plane is a flying office with all sorts of high-tech equipment. But there are two essential facts about Air Force One that the ordinary people do not know about.
“Air Force One” isn’t technically a plane: It’s simply the name for any U.S. Air Force plane carrying the president of the United States. As soon as the president puts foot on an airplane, that plane is called Air Force One, in order to avoid confusion with any other planes in the area. If the president rides on an Army aircraft, that aircraft is Army One, and whenever he boards his specialized helicopter, that craft is Marine One.
Today, there are actually two planes that regularly fly with this name – 2 very similar Boeing 747-200B jets.
The two planes have the same general structure as a normal Boeing 747-200B, and similar abilities. The top speed is between 630 and 700 miles per hour and the ceiling maximum (how high the plane can fly) is 45,100 feet. Each plane carries 53,611 gallons of fuel and weighs 833,000 pounds fully loaded for a long-range flight. With a full tank, the plane can fly half way around the world.
Like a normal 747, these planes have three levels. But the inside, these planes don’t look like other 747s.
Inside Air Force One
Air Force One has 4,000 square feet of interior floor space. Much of it looks more like a hotel or modern office than an airplane, except for the seat belts on all the chairs. The lowest level of the plane is mostly for luggage and food, etc. the passengers are usually on the middle level, and the third level is for communications equipment.
Their president has his own bedroom, bathroom, exercise room and office space.
The officers meet in a large conference room. High level office members have their own office area, and the rest of the officers have an area to work and relax.(Why?!) There is a separate area for reporters traveling with the president.
Air Force One Floor Plan
Many parts of the Air Force One are secrets. But here’s what we know:
Like an ordinary Boeing 747, passengers can enter through three doors. Normally, their president enters through the middle door. Journalists normally enter through the back (rear) door, where they immediately climb a staircase to the middle deck.
Also, Air Force One has a lot of technology that that makes it different from other jetliners.
Air Force One Special Features
Because Air Force One carries the president, and because some trips can be quite long, the plane has a number of special features. They can keep a large amount of food in freezers in the lower sections of the plane. The workers can make food for about 100 people for each meal, and the plane has enough food for 2000 meals.
The plane has a lot of medical technology such as special pharmacy, a very modern emergency room even ready for operations. The plane also has a group of doctors who travel with the president everywhere.
Unlike a normal 747, the plane has its own stairways. The plane also has its own baggage-loader. With these things, the plane never has to depend on an airport’s equipment, which could be dangerous.
The most important part on the plane is its modern electronics. It has 85 on board telephones, two-way radios, fax machines and computer connections. It also has 19 televisions and office equipment. The phone system is ready for secure lines. The president and his officers can reach just about anybody in the world while travelling in the air.
The on-board electronics are not damaged by EMPs (Electro Magnetic Pulses that come from atomic explosions and destroy all electronic equipment)
Another special thing is that Air Force One has the ability to stay up in the air for a long long time because it can get the fuel while flying.
Also the plane is with electronic counter measures (ECM) to jam enemy radar. The plane can also escape missiles.
Every Air Force One flight is classified as a military operation.
The president always flies with “the football,” the briefcase that has the codes for atomic bombs. An Air Force officer guards the football for the whole flight, before passing it off to an Army officer on the ground.
Air Force One History
Up until World War II, the president of the United States rarely traveled far from home. Visiting other countries simply took too long. when planes were available, In 1943 the first president to take to the air rode a Boeing 314 “flying boat” to a wartime conference in Casablanca.
Then the Air Force selected a C-87A Liberator Express, a plane like a B-24 bomber.
After two C-87As crashed, they soon used a C-54 Skymaster complete with sleeping places, a radio telephone.
Later they changed it with a DC-6 which was covered in decoration, like an eagle head painted on its nose.
In 1958 Boeing 707 jets arrived.
In 1990, the Air Force replaced the planes with the 747s in use today.