When we say, “Air Force One”, sneaker freakers would immediately register in their heads, the coveted Nike kicks. Alas, we’re not talking about the highly desirable pair of shoes.
We’re talking about what is otherwise known as the “Flying White House”, and we’ve got some fun facts in tow. What inspired us to draw up a list of Air Force One fun facts randomly, you ask? Having stumbled upon this:
On 26th April 2014, President Obama made his maiden official visit to Malaysia, the first by a sitting US president in 48 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s trip back in 1966 (as seen in the picture above).
In preparation for the president’s 3-day visit, a total Kuala Lumpur security lockdown was put in place. As customary wherever the US commander-in-chief is abroad, it will be strictly out-of-bounds as far as roads and airspace are concerned. Besides heightened police presence, expect road closures in major parts of the city with a “no-fly zone” to be enforced to protect the president ahead of his arrival at the RMAF base in Subang on Saturday (26th April) afternoon.
As a matter of fact, according to The Star, The US Secret Service was in the country over the past month prior to President Obama’s arrival, “securing” the president’s routes, hotel and places he will step foot in. US military cargo planes delivered logistical supplies for Obama’s visit, including support vehicles and trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass, to cover windows of the hotel Obama will stay in. Everyone was tight-lipped on the president’s movements here.
President Obama’s visit also signified the arrival of the president’s car, “The BEAST” as well as his official carrier plane, the Air Force One. What makes the Air Force One so badass and yet so special all at the same time? Read on to find out:
1. What’s in a name?
The “Air Force One” isn’t technically a plane. It’s simply the radio call name for any US Air Force plane carrying the US president. As soon as the president steps aboard an Air Force plane, that plane is referred to as Air Force One by the crew and all air traffic controllers, in order to avoid confusion with any other planes in the area. If the president rides on an army aircraft, that aircraft is Army One, and whenever he boards his specialised helicopter, that craft is Marine One. Civilians generally refer to the physical plane itself as Air Force One. It took its first flight in 1959 and has been serving the presidents of the country since then.
2. The “Flying White House”
The plane has a capacity of nearly 70 passengers and 26 crew members, all of whom belong to the military and have an exemplary service record. All of them are dedicated in 24-hour service on the flight. The plane has the ability to carry the president whenever he needs to travel around the world. It’s also referred to as the “Flying White House” or the “Flying Oval Office” as it is equipped to be the office of the president while he is traveling.
3. You know it’s legit when there are symbols
No prizes for guessing why the Air Force One is one of the most recognisable symbols of the presidency! An undeniable presence wherever it flies, it bears the symbols of the Presidency of the US, including the words “United States of America”, the Seal of the President, and the American Flag.
4. The Air Force One has a twin
Currently, there are actually not one, but two Boeing 747-200B jets are being used as Air Force One. Yes, the Air Force One are twins. How cute! Both of these customised jets are almost identical and reach a height of a 6-storey building and stretch to the length of a city block. A third plane is expected to join the fleet by 2017.
5. Epic specifications
It has 4 General Electric CF6-80C2B1 jet engines, which provide 56,700 pounds of thrust a piece. The top speed is between 630 and 700 miles (about 1,126km) per hour and the ceiling maximum (i.e how high the plane can fly) is 45,100 feet (commercial 747s fly at about 30,000 feet).
6. Fully loaded for flight
The plane carries 53,611 gallons (about 203,000 litres) of fuel and weighs 833,000 pounds (about 377,000 kg) fully loaded for a long-range mission. With a full tank, the plane can fly half way around the world. The plane has mid-air refueling capability. As with the B-2 and other combat craft, it even has a mid-air refueling ability, giving the Air Force One the ability to stay up in the air indefinitely, which could be crucial in an emergency situation
7. Cream of the crop crew
The crew members are carefully screened military personnel with exemplary service histories. Even the crew members who prepare meals must operate with a high level of security. For example, when buying food, they must hit the stores undercover, and they must select markets at random, in order to protect the president from a poison attack. Onboard the plane, the crew provides 24-hour first class service.
8. A sneak peek at the layout
Inside, the president and his travel companions enjoy 4,000 square feet of floor space on 3 levels, including an extensive suite for the president that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room. The president has onboard living quarters, with his own bedroom, bathroom, workout room/gym and office space. It also includes a medical suite that can function as an operating theatre, and a 24-hour on call doctor on board. The plane’s 2 food preparation galleys can feed 100 people at a time.
9. Always room for more
There are also quarters for other officials, guests and press reporters on board Air Force One, to accommodate all those who are accompanying the president. There are some parts of the plane where these people do not have access due to security reasons. The Air Force is careful to conceal specific details of the craft’s layout including its advanced avionics and defenses.
10. Let’s get technical – very technical
One of the most remarkable feature on the plane is its extensive electronics. It has 85 telephones, a collection of 2-way radios, fax machines and computer connections. It also has 19 TVs and assorted office equipment. The phone system is set up for normal air to ground connections and secure lines. The president and his staff can reach just about anybody in the world while cruising tens of thousands of feet in the air. The onboard electronics include about 238 miles of wiring (twice the amount you’d find in a normal 747).
11. Double, triple protected & super secure
The equipment and wiring on Air Force One is covered with tough and heavy shielding in order to protect it from electromagnetic pulse, which can be there in the event of a nuclear blast. It is also equipped to withstand any kind of air attack. For this purpose, it is loaded with electronic counter measures (ECM) which can jam radar from enemies. The plane can also eject flares to throw heat-seeking missiles off course. Some of the most interesting parts of the plane i.e its advanced avionics and defenses, are classified
12. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a..mobile command centre?
The Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command centre in the event of an attack on the US. On 11th September 2001, the president’s plane showed that it was much more than an executive jet – it became a mobile bunker when all ground positions seemed vulnerable to attack.
13. The entourage
In advance of every Air Force One flight, the Air Force crew sends C141 Starlifter cargo carrier planes, toting the president’s motorcade, to the destination. This collection includes bulletproof limousines and vans, loaded with weaponry, to keep the president safe on the ground.
14. A complete military operation & the works
Each and every flight of Air Force One gets the status of a military operation. The plane as well as the runway of the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland is carefully scrutinized by the Air Force crew and then the President is transported there from the White House by Marine One helicopter. Teams all over the base keep an eye out for any unauthorised craft in the area and are authorised to shoot on sight.
15. Air Force One family
Most presidents form close connections with their flight crew, and the final Air Force One flight is always an emotional trip. The Air Force One is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group which is part of the White House Military Office.
Mindblown? Safe to say that it is truly the mode of transportation for the most important person in the world. Meanwhile, on a less serious note, watch as President Obama takes on Jimmy Kimmel’s mean tweets segment in a special presidential edition.