It's no secret that the President of the United States has their own private plane to fly anywhere they want. But what do we actually know about the legendary Air Force One? It's not just a fancy mode of transportation; it turns out there's a lot more to it than we ever realized. From stories from back in the day to weird facts still true today, here are some little-known things about the famous aircraft.
One of the Fastest Planes at 650 MPH
Although you may not know off the top of your head how fast a normal plane travels (it is around 550 mph, in case you were wondering), you won't be surprised to know that Air Force One is able to travel much faster - up to 650 mph. After all, the President does need to be able to reach different parts of the country or the world on a few hours' notice, so this is how he does it.
Air Force One can also fly much higher than other commercial aircraft. It makes sense that the President's aircraft has to be slightly better than most average airplanes.
A Floorplan Based on the Boeing 747
If you know anything about airplanes, then you'll know that the Boeing 747 is famous for its design, and that is the base design that was used when they were designing Air Force One. There are three decks, each with its own purpose and design. The top deck is dedicated to equipment related to communications, the middle deck is the passenger space, and the lowest deck is for cargo and general storage.
There are also multiple entrances and retractable stairways that open to the lower decks and allow crew members to move around between the decks easily and without a problem.
They Really Can Refuel in Mid Air
You might have thought that this feature was more of a myth or a legend; however, as the movie with the same name portrays, Air Force One actually does have the ability to refuel in mid-air if the need arises. Although this is a pretty complicated procedure and is saved for emergencies and special occasions, it is a great feature to have in case a refuel is needed on the go.
The way it works is by essentially having a pole extend out of the plane as a sort of tail. Another plane can then refuel as it still flies through the air.
Thanks to a Nuclear Bunker and Armor-Plated Windows, the Plane Has the Highest Chance of Surviving Any Disaster
Although they have their own separate Doomsday plane in case things go terribly wrong, Air Force One also has some amazing survival capabilities. There is a nuclear bunker and armor playing and armor-plated glass windows. They are prepared for the worst, making AFO one of the best places to be if something horrible were to happen in the world. They also made it so that radioactive material could not penetrate the plane.
That is just the basics of how the plane is built to survive anything, but they still try to keep some of the other details more secretive. They don't want the world to know how prepared they are.
Historically, Presidents Used Air Force One to Get Hard-To-Find Beer From Across the Country
Although this might not sound like the most fitting behavior for a U.S. president, it is a lightly kept secret that Air Force One was actually used by the president to transport hard-to-find beer. Coors Beer could only be found in the western states, and instead of shipping it to D.C., they just flew out AFO and filled the plane with the precious beers so that there would also be fresh stock.
Apparently, they also had to fly out there for work-related reasons, but that has not been confirmed just yet. Maybe they were using tax dollars on this flight just to get some beer!
When Air Force One Was a Spy Plane
Did you know that there was a time when Air Force One was actually a spy plane? Although that might not seem to make much sense, considering it would appear to be a pretty recognizable presidential aircraft and item, it definitely was the case. The director of the CIA during the Cold War, Allen Dulles, was the one responsible for this transformation, and there is no proof that the president ever even approved of this action.
What did they do to make it more like a spy plane? They put cameras in the plane's wheels, very intense cameras that had the ability to read license plates from 29,000 feet in the air.
The Department of Homeland Security Was Born on Air Force One
You might not know that Air Force One actually has a child of its own. However, it is not another airplane but rather an entire department in the government. The Department of Homeland Security was created while President Bush was flying in Air Force One back from a trip to Berlin. It was created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has been in charge of anti-terrorism, immigration, border security, cyber security, and more ever since.
This is an interesting sort of "baby" to come out of Air Force One, but it is a pretty big and controversial one at the same time.
Each Flight Costs $200,000 per Hour
A normal airplane costs about $20,000 to $25,000 to take for a ride per hour. When you consider how many people are paying for the rides on those planes, it seems to be a pretty reasonable cost that they are able to easily get back. On the other hand, can you guess how much it costs to take Air Force One out for just an hour's ride? It costs over $200,000 an hour!
It would come as no surprise to anyone that people in the country are outraged when the president uses this expensive aircraft for personal purposes instead of just the necessary ones.
240 Miles of Cords Keep All the Technology Running
It's hard to imagine that Air Force One would not be wireless, considering how far the world has come in terms of technology over the years. However, it most definitely is not wireless. On the contrary, it has over 240 miles of cables running throughout the aircraft. That is difficult to understand or even imagine. But it makes sense that they need to ensure that everything runs smoothly and keep the technology running.
They probably had to find the most talented electrician in the world to set up that mess. That is a lot of pressure as well to make sure that it all works properly!
Air Force One Has a Twin
Although there is not just one plane that is the Air Force One, there is a plane that has become that image since it is the one that is used the most. However, there is actually a second plane in existence that looks very, very similar to the typical Air Force One plane that the president uses. They are almost identical, and it is hard to tell them apart just by looking at them.
If you were to put the two planes next to each other, it would be difficult to notice the differences. You would be too busy focusing on all the similarities.
Any Airplane That the President Flies on Is Referred to as "Air Force One"
Although it might seem that Air Force One is the name of a specific aircraft carrier that the president uses, that is not necessarily the case. It is actually just how they name the transportation of the president. So essentially, any airplane that the president is flying in could be called Air Force One. A helicopter the president is flying in is called Marine One, and an army aircraft is called Army One.
The word "One" is the most important keyword here in the naming of different transportation methods that are used by the president. The pilots of the helicopters for the president are even called Marine Helicopter Squadron One.
The White House, the Secret Service, and Boeing Worked Together to Create Air Force One
In case you haven't already understood the gist of everything, Air Force One is a pretty big deal. It is not only expensive, but it is also safe, almost acts as a bunker, and requires three different parties in order to have it function. The collaboration is between The White House, Secret Service, and Boeing. Boeing makes sure that the plane is more than up to date with all of the safety measures.
The Secret Service is making sure that all of the safety and security aspects of the plane are in line, and The White House needs to make sure it lives up to the president's needs and expectations.
Air Force One Can Fly Halfway Around the World Without Needing a Refuel
Air Force One is a pretty remarkable plane. It can carry around 52,000 gallons of fuel, which is more or less exactly how much is needed to fly halfway around the world. That is a pretty remarkable feat! That is around 12,000 miles without stopping! It must be quite a relief for someone to fly in that airplane, knowing that running out of gas isn't really a concern or something to worry about.
If they use the refueling feature that is allowed in emergencies, then technically, they could fly all the way around the world without stopping. They would just need to refuel once!
A Plane That Doubles as a Hospital
The plane goes above and beyond with facilities, all tailored to the president's needs. Chief among them is health. Onboard, there's a full medical suite with skilled doctors, nurses, and even surgeons. It has all the essentials, from a stocked pharmacy to emergency gear and even a fold-out operating table. While the president's health takes the front seat, all passengers can get medical attention. But what's key is the plane's constant readiness for any surprise situation – it's always prepped for emergencies.
Anyone who takes a ride in Air Force One can rest assured that there is a protocol in place in case of a medical emergency.
They Didn't Skimp on Space With 4,000 Square Feet
About double the size of the average American's home, Air Force One comes in at a whopping size of over 4,000 square feet. That is quite a massive amount of space for just the president and his entourage. It makes sense that this is one of the most expensive aircraft in the world. You'll find conference rooms, a medical suite complete with an operating room, a kitchen, a master bedroom, and so much more.
Of course, the President also has his own personal and private suite with an office, a bathroom, and a conference room. Did you expect anything less? And don't forget that there are special quarters for the Secret Service agents as well!
A Doomsday Backup Plane Was Created During the Cold War and Is Still Ready for Use
As if it wasn't already shocking enough to see how much money is pumped into Air Force One, you might be even more shocked to find out that there is also a backup doomsday plane in case something ever happens. This plane's real name is E-4B, but most people like to call it the Doomsday Plane just because it seems to make more sense. It is equipped with a nuclear bunker and a command center.
This plane was actually decked out during the Cold War and is used now more as a standby plane. Fortunately, it hasn't had to be used yet and hopefully will not ever be in use!
The Aircraft Has Two Kitchens and Multiple Chefs
In case you were worried that the President and his entourage would be stuck up in the sky without delicious food, you can put your fears to rest. Not only do they have two kitchens on board Air Force One, but they also have multiple chefs creating all sorts of different creative and delicious meals. There is absolutely no lack of yummy food when they are in the air.
Since they are in the air, however, the chefs have to get a bit creative with their cooking skills in order to make the food taste good at that altitude.
With Over 80 Phones, There's No Lack of Communication Methods on the Plane
In case the President ever lost his phone while he was on Air Force One, there would be absolutely no reason to worry. There are a few extras that can be used as backups - and by a few, they mean 84 at least. So technically, the President could lose over 80 phones and still have some to spare! He may just have to walk to a different part of the cabin to access them.
Don't forget about the fax machines, almost 20 televisions, two-way radios, and other various office and communication equipment that is also on the plane.
It's Essentially a Flying White House
Although this might sound like more of a joke, Air Force One also has another purpose besides just being the president's official aircraft. It also serves as a mobile command center in the case of emergencies, such as 9/11. It enables the president to be mobile while still having all the communication methods necessary to perform his job and his duties. The Flying White House is actually quite well-equipped as well.
It wouldn't come as a surprise that Air Force One also has a good amount of fancy schmancy gadgets and tools that can come in handy on AFO when emergencies arise.
The Ideal Number of Passengers Is 96
Although Air Force One is able to feed up to 100 people at a time, that does not mean that it is the ideal number of people to be aboard at any given time. However, it is not far from the actual ideal number, which is 96. Usually, there are far less than 96 to 100 people on board during any given flight, mostly due to the extremely high cost of having a ride.
Tickets cost around $80,000 per person if they want to take a ride on Air Force One, and the tickets are usually given to journalists or the press.
Everyone Has an Assigned Seat
Although assigned seating is very common and normal in most plane experiences, you might be surprised to find out that is also the case on Air Force One. Each person that flies on the plane, all the White House administration and the Secret Service agents, all have their own assigned seats. Of course, people can move around a bit, but you should stay in your assigned seat whenever possible.
Most of the seats on the plane are reserved for Secret Service agents and the press. White House Administration is the last group that is included.
Delaying Planes for a Haircut
It is no secret that the president of the US can essentially do whatever he wants. However, you would think there should be certain limitations even for him. For example, President Clinton was infamous for delaying flights to a different degree. He would infamously sit on the runway and get his hair cut while everyone just stood there waiting around for him to finish up. It was unclear why he felt this couldn't wait.
At that point, it almost seems like he is trying to just see how far he can push everything without anyone noticing. After all, there should be a limit to the madness and respect for other people's time.
Ensuring a Clear and Smooth Landing
In case you didn't already guess, it's incredibly important to make sure that Air Force One lands and takes off with ease. That is the main reason that Air Force One usually takes off and lands at military airports. They are used to seeing the Commander in Chief take off or touch down among them, while regular civilians are not so familiar with it. However, AFO does take precedence over all other planes, regardless of scheduling.
If Air Force One has to make a landing at a civilian airport, then it takes priority, and air traffic controllers have to ensure that that is the case.
Jelly Beans as the Symbol of America
You may be wondering what Jelly Beans have to do with the president or Air Force One, and there is a surprisingly simple explanation for that. President Ronald Reagan was actually quite obsessed with these candies and considered them to be the symbol of America. As a result, there were always some around Air Force One since his days as president. It's not the first thing you would expect to have in Air Force One.
It's funny that they made sure to cater to the President's preference even though it was something as silly as jelly beans.
A $6 Million Aircraft
Could you guess how much it cost to build Air Force One? You already have a few hints here in the article, especially considering it is already listed as being the most expensive presidential aircraft in the world. However, you probably wouldn't guess that it cost over $6 million just to build the structure of the plane. That isn't even including all the additional add-ons and pretty things that went into making it Air Force One.
That is almost double the cost that it is to build a normal Boeing 747. And that is not even including the recent Air Force One program that Trump was attempting to run that would be an additional almost $4 billion.
The President Gets to Choose the Music
Although the plane is one of the absolute fastest, and they do try to minimize the amount of downtime that Presidents have when they are taking a ride on Air Force One, it is inevitable that there will be some free time on the aircraft. That is where music comes into play. And unfortunately for whoever is on the plane, the president is the one who gets to choose the music.
That could be a blessing for some groups, but it really depends on the type of music that they like to listen to and if it is the same taste as the other people on board.
The Logo of Air Force One Is Clear
Since Air Force One is a symbol of the United States and the president who is being transported in it, it makes sense that it is essential that it looks the part. As a result, you will see a big label that says "United States of America," combined with an American flag and the Seal of the President. It sounds fitting, after all, for the president's personal aircraft for it to be clearly marked.
The plane itself is very much a sign to the rest of the world of the power and strength of the US, which is why they ensure that the appearance (and the costs) are up to par.
When the President Hates Broccoli
In case you haven't noticed yet, one of the main rules of Air Force One is that whatever the president wants, the president gets. For example, one of the silliest of all the items on this list is when the president hates broccoli, no broccoli will make its way into the cuisine on Air Force One. President Bush hated broccoli, and as a result, there was never any broccoli allowed onto the plane.
This would be applied to many other areas as well, but the main one tended to be the food choices of the different presidents.
Fargo Is the Perfect Air Force One Movie
Air Force One and the movie Fargo might seem like an unlikely pairing, but there's a quirky connection. During Clinton's '96 re-election campaign, the airplane's passengers, including the President and his team, developed an unexpected affinity for the Coen Brothers' film. The film Fargo became a staple onboard, holding the record for the "Most Screened Film on Air Force One." It wouldn't come as too much of a surprise, though, considering the theme.
What better way to stay entertained while flying than watching a movie with dark humor and touching on politics? Especially if the president has bad taste in music.
A Close Second to Air Force One - Mexico
In case you were thinking that only the president of the United States had an extremely expensive aircraft, then you would be wrong. Just about every country's leaders have some sort of insanely priced aircraft. Mexico is no exception with this, actually, it is one of the most expensive presidential aircraft in the world. Mexico's ex-president, Enrique Peña Nieto had a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner that cost over $600 million as well.
That was just the cost of the plane, not including maintenance or any other related fees. It's crazy to think that they are also spending that much just on one airplane!
Germany Comes in Third With the Airbus
Germany isn't far behind the US and Mexico when it comes to expensive aircraft for their country's leaders. Although Angela Merkel actually has quite a few airplanes at her disposal, the most famous one that she uses is a $300 million former Lufthansa Airbus A340. Of course, it has been changed into a luxurious aircraft for the proper experience at this point, complete with the most advanced anti-missile defense technology.
Unlike most of the other aircraft on this list, it was not built and designed specifically for the leaders of the country but was refurbished and recycled from a regular commercial plane.
Next in Line Is the UK's Airbus
There is something about the term airbus that makes it seem less like the aircraft that would be relevant for a country's leadership. However, the $250 million price mark would make you think differently. This is a recent acquisition that is being used for the British Prime Minister. Just like Air Force One, one of the coolest features of this plane is that it can refuel in mid air.
This is the plane that has the largest passenger capacity, with almost 200 seats, with a whole rear portion dedicated specifically for journalists. The front portion is dedicated for the government officials themselves.
Saudi Arabia Spared No Expense for King Abdullah
If you know anything about Saudi Arabia and the vast wealth that they have as a result of the oil and resources that are located within the country, then you probably won't be surprised at all that King Abdullah spent over $520 million on his Boeing 747 that he uses for transportation. It started out as a relatively low cost aircraft and then he revamped it fora couple hundred million extra.
The inside of the aircraft is not quite like that of other countries and looks more like a villa than anything else. There are over 25 rooms, a marble steam room, parking spaces, and a concert hall.
Zimbabwe's President Has a $400M Aircraft
You would probably think that the countries that are not considered economically well off would probably have slightly less extravagant aircraft for their countries' rulers. While that may be the case for some countries, Zimbabwe is definitely not one of them. President Mugabe purchased a $400 million aircraft despite his country being one of the top 20 poorest in the world. And he used taxpayer dollars to make this purchase for himself.
Both the inside and outside of this aircraft have been extravagantly decorated to portray what the president thinks is worthy of a presidential aircraft. The people probably would much rather have the tax money put to better use though.
Italy Has a $90 Million Airbus
Itlay is starting off the list of reasonably priced aircraft and it is about time! Although $90 million is still a crazy amount of money, compared to some of the other airplanes on the list, it is significantly cheaper. However, the Airbus A319 Corporate Jet (CJ) actually does the job just about as well as some of the other ones on this list and without breaking the bank and the country's taxpayers.
It seems that countries like ZImbabwe should have considered a more reasonable purchase like the leaders of Italy did for their presidential aircraft. It would have been a better choice for the taxpayers at least!
France Has a $240 Million Aircraft
It seems that the prices are back to the very high numbers, reaching into the hundreds of millions. France's president Emmanuel Macron wanted to make sure that he would have a very nice aircraft in which he could travel around. As a result, he got an Airbus A330-200 for around $240 million and made it the presidential aircraft. It has all of the amenities that one might need, plenty of seats, and is decorated nicely.
One of the most interesting aspects of this plane is that it can access the internet from up to 10,000 meters above the ground. That is not something that most planes can boast.
$275 Million for Jordan's Airbus
One of the aspects that makes Jordan's $275 million Airbus A340-600 unique is that it actually has some Rolls-Royce engines that enable it to use less fuel than other airplanes. So while it is still a private aircraft and is destroying the environment, it does make it the slightly more economically friendly option compared to most of the other ones on this list. It is rather small compared to others, but it can still travel for plenty of time!
Another aircraft was purchased by the King of Jordan in recent years, even smaller than the first one, but now they at least have a few options in case they were lacking!
Qatar Has 14 Aircrafts Each at $100 Million
Although $100 million does not seem to be that high of a number compared to some of the other ones on this list, when you take into consideration that Qatar has 14 of these aircraft, you realize how much money they are really using on their government and leadership's transportation. Each and every one of them also belong to the Emir's personal airline, Qatar Amiri Flight, which at least makes more sense!
When the Emir travels, he also usually brings around 1,000 people with him. Maybe that is why he has so many different aircraft.