Air Force One

Air Force One is actually the designation for any plane that is transporting the President of the United States. Two heavily modified Boeing 747-200B VC-25 aircraft are reserved for this purpose, though other fixed wing and rotary aircraft have been designated Air Force One to be used as needed. The VC-25 airplanes are flown by pilots in the Presidential Airlift Group assigned to the Air Mobility Command’s 89th Airlift Wing.

The first presidential airplane went into service in 1944 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. That aircraft was a C-54 with the call sign “Sacred Cow.” It wasn’t until several aircraft and presidents later that the plane became publicly identified as Air Force One. This was during President Kennedy’s term when he flew on a modified Boeing 707 designated VC-127.

The VC-25 747 is fitted with enhanced communications and navigational equipment as well as forward and aft stairs, an internal baggage loader, and the ability to refuel in-flight, all of which are not included on a standard 747. Air Force One is custom fitted with private facilities for the president including a shower, toilet, and dressing room. Emergency medical equipment is stored onboard and on every flight a doctor is among the crew. The galleys can accommodate up to 100 meals. On board are six toilets, a mini-galley, and rest area for the crew, as well as disabled access facilities. A conference room and dining area are reserved for the president’s use, with separate dining areas for Secret Service personnel, news media, staff, and other individuals who may be traveling with the president.

Air Force One, with the tail number of 26000, transported President John F. Kennedy to Dallas on November 22, 1963. After the president was assassinated, Air Force One returned the president’s body to Washington, D.C. Before departing Dallas on that day, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office aboard the airplane with the slain president’s wife in attendance. Ironically, when President Johnson died, on January 24, 1973 the same aircraft transported his body to Texas for his own funeral.

Speed: 630 mph
Range: 7,800 miles
Ceiling: 45,100′
Length: 231′ 10″
Wingspan: 195′ 8″
Height: 63′ 5″
Maximum weight: 833,000 lbs
Engine(s): Four General Electric CF6-80C2B1 turbofan jet engines
Crew: 26, including three pilots