The mission of the VC-25A aircraft -- Air Force One -- is to provide air transport for the president of the United States.
The presidential air transport fleet consists of two specially configured Boeing 747-200B's -- tail numbers 28000 and 29000 -- with the Air Force designation VC-25A. When the president is aboard either aircraft, or any Air Force aircraft, the radio call sign is "Air Force One."
Principal differences between the VC-25A and the standard Boeing 747, other than the number of passengers carried, are the electronic and communications equipment aboard Air Force One, its interior configuration and furnishings, self-contained baggage loader, front and aft air-stairs, and the capability for in-flight refueling.
Accommodations for the president include an executive suite consisting of a stateroom (with dressing room, lavatory and shower) and the president's office. A conference/dining room is also available for the president, his family and staff. Other separate accommodations are provided for guests, senior staff, Secret Service and security personnel, and the news media.
Two galleys provide up to 100 meals at one sitting. Six passenger lavatories, including disabled access facilities, are provided as well as a rest area and mini-galley for the aircrew. The VC-25A also has a compartment outfitted with medical equipment and supplies for minor medical emergencies.
These aircraft are flown by the presidential aircrew, maintained by the Presidential Maintenance Branch, and are assigned to Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
Presidential air transport began in 1944 when a C-54 -- the "Sacred Cow" -- was put into service for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Then came the "Independence," a DC-6 (Liftmaster), which transported President Harry S. Truman during the period 1947 to 1953. President Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled aboard the "Columbine II" and "Columbine III" from 1953 to 1961. While the call sign "Air Force One" was first used in the 50s, President Kennedy's VC-137 (Boeing 737) was the first aircraft to be popularly known as "Air Force One."
In 1962, a C-137C specifically purchased for use as Air Force One, entered into service with the tail number 26000. It is perhaps the most widely known and most historically significant presidential aircraft. Tail number 26000 is the aircraft that carried President Kennedy to Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963, and returned the body to Washington, D.C., following his assassination. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office as the 36th president on board the aircraft at Love Field in Dallas. This fateful aircraft also was used to return President Johnson's body to Texas following his state funeral Jan. 24, 1973.
In 1972 President Richard M. Nixon made historic visits aboard 26000 to the People's Republic of China in February and to the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in May. Tail number 27000 replaced 26000 and carved its own history when it was used to fly Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter to Cairo, Egypt, Oct. 19, 1981, to represent the United States at the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Tail number 26000 was retired May 1998, and is on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
The first VC-25A -- tail number 28000 -- flew as "Air Force One" on Sept. 6, 1990, when it transported President George Bush to Kansas, Florida and back to Washington, D.C. A second VC-25A, tail number 29000 transported Presidents Clinton, Carter and Bush to Israel for the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The VC-25A will usher presidential travel into the 21st century, upholding the proud tradition and distinction of being known as "Air Force One."
Presidential air transport
Contractor: Boeing Airplane Co.
Power Plant: Four General Electric CF6-80C2B1 jet engines
Thrust: 56,700 pounds, each engine
Length: 231 feet, 10 inches (70.7 meters)
Height: 63 feet, 5 inches (19.3 meters)
Wingspan: 195 feet, 8 inches (59.6 meters)
Speed: 630 miles per hour (Mach 0.92)
Ceiling: 45,100 feet (13,746 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 833,000 pounds (374,850 kilograms)
Range: 7,800 statute miles (6,800 nautical miles) (12,550 kilometers)
Crew: 26 (passenger/crew capacity: 102)
Introduction Date: Dec. 8, 1990 (No. 28000); Dec. 23, 1990 (No. 29000)
Date Deployed: Sept. 6, 1990 (No. 28000); Mar. 26, 1991 (No. 29000)
Inventory: Active force, 2; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0
Air Mobility Command, Public Affairs Office; 503 J Street, Suite 214; Scott AFB, IL 62225-5335; DSN 576-5003 or (618) 256-5003.