Air Force One is one of the most recognizable symbols of the presidency and an undeniable presence in the sky. While we think of Air Force One as referring to the planes themselves, it is actually a radio call sign for any plane which the President of the United States of America travels on. Still, there are two planes that serve as the official planes for presidential travel under the call sign. These two highly customized Boeing 747-200B planes have been in service since the presidency of George Bush in 1990. They are the successor to the Boeing 707, which President Dwight Eisenhower added in ‘58.
The first president to fly aboard the Air Force One while in office was Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, the plane was much different from the aircraft of presidents nowadays. Roosevelt flew aboard a modified Douglas Dolphin amphibious flying boat. Ironically, nobody is actually sure that he actually flew in the aircraft. Despite the uncertainty, it stuck and became a tradition which has continued over the years. Military planes were transformed, bearing all of the latest and best technology and defensive systems to transport and protect the POTUS during times of need. Over time, the planes went through The First Lady treatment. Unsurprisingly, and thanks to President Kennedy’s always-fashionable wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the presidents have had a plane with a stunning two-toned blue paint job for the last few decades. Air Force One has a mysterious feel to it, mostly because it is completely off limits to most of us. So, now that it is expected to undergo a transformation, let’s take a look at its bells and whistles… at least those that we’re aware of.
Modern-day Air Force One was designed off of the very-modified Boeing 747. The plane features three decks. The lowest level of the plane is used for the most part as cargo space. The majority of passenger space is on the middle level, and the upper level is dedicated to communications equipment. There are two entrances on the plane. The front entrance near the nose of the plane is for the president, his family, and special guests. This is the iconic location you have probably seen in pictures, of the President waving as he enters and exits the plane.The second entrance is designated for journalists and other staff.
The plane has its own retractable stairways, for both entrances. The stairs open onto the lower deck, and crew members and staff climb internal staircases to reach the upper decks.