300 N. Washington St.
Suite B-100
Alexandria, VA 22314
info@globalsecurity.org

GlobalSecurity.org In the News




U.S. News & World Report May 19, 2003

Inside Air Force One

Air Force One is a not any single aircraft but is instead the call sign by which any Air Force plane is known the minute the president of the United States steps aboard. Exact floor plans of the planes commonly flown as Air Force One are, of course, not available to the public. This graphic illustrates how the crafts are likely to be designed based on available information from a variety of sources, including HowStuffWorks, which has provided U.S. News & World Report with its research of the plane's interior.

THE PILOTS
Generally these Air Force lieutenant colonels or colonels are in the middle of their careers and are selected for their safety record.

THE CREW
The plane is staffed with 26 crew members, selected for their work ethic and collegiality. When a vacancy in the crew arises, a candidate for replacement must be endorsed by the other crew members.

UPPER LEVEL (not shown)
Riding atop it all are the cockpit, communications room, and a small galley, among perhaps other classified areas.

MIDDLE LEVEL (shown)
This portion of the 4,000-square-foot interior floor space supports the "flying White House" with meeting and work areas.

LOWER LEVEL (not shown)
Reserved for cargo and equipment.

FUEL AND ENGINES
53,611 gallons of fuel power four General Electric jet engines, each providing 56,700 pounds of thrust.

ELECTRONICS
Electronics include 85 telephones equipped with secure lines and standard air-to-ground connections, several two-way radios, fax machines, and many computers. Also on board are 19 televisions and standard office equipment. That array of electronics requires 238 miles of wiring, twice the amount on a commercial 747. The essential pieces of equipment and wiring are shielded enough to protect against the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear blast.

CHOW TIME
The crew can prepare meals for about 100 people at a time. Freezers and storage areas on the plane's lower level can store about 2,000 meals.

THE PRESS
Members of the press are seated in the rear of the plane. There are work desks and a galley for meal preparation.

DEFENSIVE MEASURES
Outfitted with an array of classified military equipment, its arsenal includes: radar-jamming equipment and antimissile flares.

IN-FLIGHT HEALTHCARE
On board is the president's physician as well as a pharmacy and stowable operating table.

BAGGAGE HANDLING
Self-contained baggage loaders ensure security. All luggage is thoroughly screened.

[Drawing is not available.]

[Labels]
President's bedroom
Bath
President's office
Medical room
Lounge
Main conference room
Work room
Secret Service
Press seating
Rear seating (first-class style)
Galley (in the rear)

THE PLANES: BOEING 747-200Bs
The twin 747s that fly under the call sign Air Force One are managed by the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

WINGSPAN
195 feet, 8 inches

LENGTH
231 feet, 10 inches

HEIGHT
63 feet, 5 inches

TOP SPEED
701 mph (almost the speed of sound* )

MAXIMUM ALTITUDE
45,100 feet (8.5 miles)

WEIGHT
833,000 pounds, fully loaded

RANGE
9,600 miles

Air Force One could fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Sydney. Unlike commercial 747s, these two are capable of in-flight refueling.

PRESIDENTIAL AIRLIFT: WHAT'S INVOLVED
Tight security and clockwork timing mark each Air Force One flight as a full military mission.

[Seal of the President of the United States]

DISPATCHING THE STARLIFTERS
The Starlifters fly ahead of every Air Force One flight. They deliver the bulletproof limousines, vans, and weapons that make up the president's motorcade.
[label]
C-141 Starlifter

PREPARING THE 747
Security is tight. Even food is protected by purchases in randomly selected local markets by plain-clothes agents. And cleanliness counts---anyone boarding an off-duty Air Force One must wear cloth booties to keep the wall-to-wall carpet clean.

READY TO GO
Marine One is the call sign used when the president is on board a Marine helicopter. When the president is ready to depart the White House, Marine One, shuttles him to Andrews Air Force Base.

[label]
Marine One:
Sikorsky VH-3D (Sea King)

[Map is not available.]
[map labels]
Washington, D.C.
White House
Andrews Air Force Base
Md.
Potomac River
Va.
[Rtes.] 66, 95, 495
Miles 0, 2

"WE ARE NOW AIR FORCE ONE..."
Only after the president steps aboard does the captain refer to the plane as "Air Force One". During a flight, the president has the vast array of electronics at his disposal to keep in touch with virtually anyone, anywhere in the world. He can conduct business with national and world leaders in the well-appointed offices or conference room, or retreat to his private suite in the front of the middle deck.

Sources: United States Air Force, HowStuffWorks.com, National Geographic, GlobalSecurity.org

* The speed of sound through air varies depending on temperature and humidity.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FLYING PRESIDENTS
JAN. 11, 1943 President Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first president to fly in a plane while in office when Pan Am's Dixie Clipper ferries him safely above the German submarine-infested Atlantic Ocean to Casablanca in North Africa for an Allied war meeting.
1944 President Roosevelt's C-54 Skymaster begins regular presidential air transport.
1959 In August, Dwight D. Eisenhower is the first president to travel by jet. In December, he flies around the world aboard the presidential Boeing 707. Also in this year the call sign "Air Force One" is first used after confusion arises between an Eastern Airlines flight and President Eisenhower's plane.
1990 The 707 is replaced by the much larger 747 used today. A second 747 is brought into service in 1991.
Sources: United States Air Force, HowStuffWorks.com, National Geographic, GlobalSecurity.org

Stephen Rountree--USN&WR

Excerpted from Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes by Kenneth T. Walsh. Copyright (c) 2003 by Kenneth T. Walsh. Published by Hyperion.

GRAPHIC: Drawing, Inside Air Force One (United States Air Force; HowStuffWorks.com; National Geographic; GlobalSecurity.org; Stephen Rountree--USN&WR)


Copyright 2003, U.S. News & World Report