Air Force One is the call sign of any airplane transporting the President of the United States
A Brief History
Air travel in America began in December of 1903 when the Wright brothers flew the first fixed-wing aircraft in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The first President to fly in an aircraft was Theodore Roosevelt (though not in office at the time) when he toured the skies above the state fair in St. Louis, Missouri in 1910.
During the twentieth century, US Presidents continued to travel safely around the country and eventually around the world in airplanes that were customized for security, efficiency, and comfort. The distinctive medium and cyan blue of the Air Force One planes, with the American flag on the tail and the presidential seal near the passenger door, was chosen by Jaqueline Kennedy for the Boeing 707’s in use from 1962-1990.
The two planes that alternately transport the President today are Boeing 747-200’s ordered during the Reagan administration and first utilized by President H.W. Bush. They’re considered military planes with the Air Force designation VC-25 and tail numbers 28000 and 29000. The 747-200 holds 53,000 gallons of fuel, can be refueled in-flight and is able to fly 100 mph faster and 15,000 ft higher than commercial aircraft.
The “flying oval office” is equipped with a command center, two kitchens, a hospital, numerous restrooms, a sleeping area, and comfortable seating for the first family, their security team, presidential aides, and the press
Modernizing Air Force One
But the planes in use today are over 30 years old and have been continuously refitted to have state-of-the-art technology and safety equipment. The Air Force Ones of the near future will be two 747-8’s on order from Boeing to be in use by 2024. Though the initial cost is $3.9 billion, the new planes will have quieter, more fuel efficient engines, a longer fuselage, redesigned wings, and a new paint job.