Air Force One flies over Mount Rushmore. Principal differences between the
VC-25A and the standard Boeing 747, other than the number of passengers carried,
are the electronic and communications equipment aboard Air Force One, its
interior configuration and furnishings, self-contained baggage loader, front and
aft air-stairs, and the capability for in-flight refueling. These aircraft are
flown by the presidential aircrew, maintained by the presidential maintenance
branch, and are assigned to Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews
Air Force Base, Md. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The mission of the VC-25 aircraft -- Air Force One -- is to provide air
transport for the president of the United States.
The presidential air transport fleet consists of two specially configured Boeing
747-200B's -- tail numbers 28000 and 29000 -- with the Air Force designation
VC-25. When the president is aboard either aircraft, or any Air Force aircraft,
the radio call sign is "Air Force One."
Principal differences between the VC-25 and the standard Boeing 747, other than
the number of passengers carried, are the state of the art navigation,
electronic and communications equipment, its interior configuration and
furnishings, self-contained baggage loader, front and aft air-stairs, and the
capability for in-flight refueling.
Accommodations for the president include an executive suite consisting of a
stateroom (with dressing room, lavatory and shower) and the president's office.
A conference/dining room is also available for the president, his family and
staff. Other separate accommodations are provided for guests, senior staff,
Secret Service and security personnel, and the news media.
Two galleys provide up to 100 meals at one sitting. Six passenger lavatories,
including disabled access facilities, are provided as well as a rest area and
mini-galley for the aircrew. The VC-25 also has a compartment outfitted with
medical equipment and supplies for minor medical emergencies.
These aircraft are flown by the Presidential Airlift Group, and are assigned to
Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
Presidential air transport began in 1944 when a C-54 -- the "Sacred Cow" -- was
put into service for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The first purpose-built
aircraft to fly the president of the United States, the Sacred Cow is the
only VC-54C ever constructed. To an untrained eye, it looks like any other
C-54, but the Sacred Cow is unique. Beginning with a C-54A fuselage and
C-54B wings, Douglas made numerous modifications. For example, the
ailerons are different from any B model. Furthermore, the Sacred Cow
underwent extensive interior modifications. One special feature is an
elevator behind the passenger cabin to lift the president in his
wheelchair in and out of the plane -- an otherwise difficult procedure.
The passenger compartment includes a conference room with a large desk and
a bulletproof picture window.
President Roosevelt used
the Sacred Cow only once before his death in April 1945; however, the
Sacred Cow remained in presidential service during the first 27 months of
the Truman Administration. On July 26, 1947, President Truman signed the
National Security Act of 1947 while on board the Sacred Cow. This act
established the Air Force as an independent service, making the Sacred Cow
the "birthplace" of the USAF.
Then came the
"Independence," a DC-6 (Liftmaster), which transported President Harry S. Truman
during the period 1947 to 1953.
President Dwight D.
Eisenhower traveled aboard the "Columbine II" and "Columbine III" from 1953 to
While the call sign
"Air Force One" was first used in the 50s, President Kennedy's VC-137 (Boeing
707) was the first aircraft to be popularly known as "Air Force One."
In 1962, a C-137C specifically purchased for use as Air Force One, entered into
service with the tail number 26000. It is perhaps the most widely known and most
historically significant presidential aircraft. Tail number 26000 is the
aircraft that carried President Kennedy to Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963, and returned
the body to Washington, D.C., following his assassination. Lyndon B. Johnson was
sworn into office as the 36th president on board the aircraft at Love Field in
Dallas. This fateful aircraft also was used to return President Johnson's body
to Texas following his state funeral Jan. 24, 1973. In 1972 President Richard M.
Nixon made historic visits aboard 26000 to the People's Republic of China and to
the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Tail number 26000 was retired
May 1998, and is on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB,
Tail number 27000 replaced 26000 and carved its own history when it was used to
fly Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter to Cairo, Egypt, Oct. 19, 1981, to
represent the United States at the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
The first VC-25A -- tail number 28000 -- flew as "Air Force One" on Sept. 6,
1990, when it transported President George Bush to Kansas, Florida and back to
Washington, D.C. A second VC-25A, tail number 29000 transported Presidents
Clinton, Carter and Bush to Israel for the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin. The VC-25A will usher presidential travel into the 21st century,
upholding the proud tradition and distinction of being known as "Air Force One."
General Characteristics Primary Function: Presidential air transport Contractor: Boeing Airplane Co. Power Plant: Four General Electric CF6-80C2B1 jet engines Thrust: 56,700 pounds, each engine Length: 231 feet, 10 inches (70.7 meters) Height: 63 feet, 5 inches (19.3 meters) Wingspan: 195 feet, 8 inches (59.6 meters) Speed: 630 miles per hour (Mach 0.92) Ceiling: 45,100 feet (13,746 meters) Maximum Takeoff Weight: 833,000 pounds (374,850 kilograms) Range: 7,800 statute miles (6,800 nautical miles) (12,550
kilometers) Crew: 26 (passenger/crew capacity: 102) Introduction Date: Dec. 8, 1990 (No. 28000); Dec. 23, 1990 (No.
29000) Date Deployed: Sept. 6, 1990 (No. 28000); Mar. 26, 1991 (No.
29000) Inventory: Active force, 2; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0
Credit: U.S. Air Force
Data compiled from The
British Antarctic Study, NASA, Environment Canada, UNEP, EPA and
other sources as stated and credited Researched by Charles
Welch-Updated daily This Website is a project of the The Ozooe Hole