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Boeing VC-25

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VC-25 "Air Force One"
Air Force One over Mount Rushmore.
Type Presidential transport
Manufacturer Boeing
Introduced August 23, 1990 (No. 28000)
December 23, 1990 (No. 29000)
Status Active service
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1990-1991
Number built 2
Unit cost US$ 325 million
Developed from Boeing 747
Variants E-4B Nightwatch

The Boeing VC-25 is the designation of a United States Air Force passenger transportation aircraft, a military version of the Boeing 747.

The VC-25 is most famous for its role as Air Force One, the callsign of any U.S. Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States. The two aircraft currently in U.S. service are highly modified versions of Boeing's 747-200B, with tail numbers 28000 and 29000. Although the Air Force One designation technically applies to the planes only while the President is aboard, the term is commonly applied to the VC-25As more generally. They often operate in conjunction with Marine One, the helicopter which ferries the President to airports in circumstances where a vehicle motorcade would be inappropriate.

Design and development

The fabrication of the current 747s began under Ronald Reagan's presidency. Most of the interior was completed in Wichita, Kansas.[citation needed] The first aircraft was delivered in 1990, during the administration of George H. W. Bush. Delays were experienced to allow for additional work to protect the aircraft from electromagnetic pulse (EMP).[citation needed]

While the VC-25 has three floors, like a regular Boeing 747, its 4,000 square feet (370 m²) of floor space has been reconfigured for presidential duties. Its lowest levels are mostly cargo space, carrying luggage and the onboard food supply. The airplane has storage and freezer capacity to provide up to 2,000 meals when fully loaded. Meals are prepared in two galleys, which together are equipped to feed about 100 people at a time. While the plane's luggage capacity is adequate to carry the belongings of the passengers, the logistics train of the President means that the plane must fly preceded by an aerial convoy of several cargo transports (usually including at least one C-5 Galaxy), which carry the helicopters, motorcade vehicles, and other equipment required by the presidential entourage.

The VC-25A is capable of flying 7,800 miles (12,600 km)—roughly one-third the distance around the world—without refueling and can accommodate more than 70 passengers. Each VC-25A cost approximately US$325 million.

The main passenger area is on the second floor, and communications equipment and the cockpit are on the third floor. There are three entrances onboard, two on the lower and one on the main deck. Typically the president boards and deplanes from the front, main deck entrance via an airstair, while journalists and other passengers enter at the lower rear door. Facilities for the press and other passengers are configured like an ordinary airliner's first-class cabin.[1]

On board Air Force One are medical facilities, including a fold-out operating table, emergency medical supplies, and a well-stocked pharmacy; President George W. Bush had a treadmill added to Air Force One during his term in office. Every flight is staffed by a doctor. There are separate quarters for guests, senior staff, Secret Service and security personnel, and the news media. The president's executive suite includes sleeping quarters with two couches that can be converted into beds, lavatory and shower, and private office. These offices, including the president's suite, are mostly located on the starboard (right), and a long corridor runs along the port (left) side. When Air Force One taxis to an airport's ramp for events, it comes to a stop with the port side of the aircraft facing gathered onlookers.[citation needed]

In the office areas, Air Force One has photocopying, printing, and word processing services, as well as telecommunication systems (including 85 telephones and 19 televisions). There are also secure and non-secure voice, fax, and data communications facilities.

Operational history

File:REAGANFUNERAL-casket carried to hearse.jpg
The casket of former President Ronald Reagan is carried from SAM 28000 onto the tarmac at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu during the state funeral honoring the former President in 2004.

The VC-25s replaced the VC-137C (a military version of the Boeing 707) as the mainstays of the Air Force One fleet. On some occasions, the planes are used to transport the Vice President of the United States, for which service they adopt the callsign Air Force Two. These aircraft are maintained and operated as military operations by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing, based at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland.

The airplanes can also be operated as a military command center in the event of an incident such as a nuclear attack. Operational modifications include aerial refueling capability and anti-aircraft missile countermeasures. The electronics on board are connected with approximately 238 miles (383 km) of wiring, twice that of a regular 747. All wiring is covered with heavy shielding for protection from an electromagnetic pulse in the event of a nuclear attack. The planes also have electronic countermeasures (ECMs) to jam enemy radar, flares to avoid heat-seeking missiles, and chaff to avoid radar-guided missiles. All small arms and ammunition stores not under the physical possession of the Secret Service on board the VC-25s are stowed and secured in separate locked compartments each with a different locking mechanism by the Secret Service for added security. Many of Air Force One's other capabilities are classified for security reasons.

The VC-25A has also been used to transport deceased former presidents. The remains of both Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford were transported by SAM 28000 and 29000 respectively to Washington for their state funerals, and then on to their final resting places. The casket is placed within the mid-aft section of the 747 on the main deck, and enters/exits via the fourth door on the port side of the plane. Chairs in this area which normally serve as a staff cabin are removed and the casket is strapped down. A specially designed hydraulic lifter (similar to the type used by airline catering) with the presidential seal affixed to the sides lifts the casket up to the door to enter the 747.

These aircraft are expected to be replaced in the future as they become more inefficient to run. The USAF Air Mobility Command has been cited to looking into possible replacements to include the new Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380.[2]

Specifications (VC-25A)

Data from Boeing IDS[3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 26: three pilots, cabin crew
  • Capacity: 76 passengers
  • Length: 231 ft 5 in (70.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 195 ft 8 in (59.6 m)
  • Height: 63 ft 5 in (19.3 m)
  • Zero fuel weight: 526,500 lb (238,800 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 833,000 lb (375,000 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric CF6-80C2B1 turbofans, 56,700 lbf (250 kN) each


Popular culture

The VC-25 "Air Force One" is a prominent symbol of the American presidency and its power; with the White House and presidential seal, it is one of the most familiar presidential symbols. Air Force One has often appeared in popular culture and fiction, most notably as the setting of the 1997 action movie Air Force One.



  1. Harris, Tom. How Air Force One Works. Accessed October 10, 2006.
  2. "US considers Airbus A380 as Air Force One and potentially a C-5 replacement", Flight Global, 17 October, 2007
  3. Air Force One Technical Specs. Boeing: Integrated Defense Systems. Retrieved on 2006-10-23.


  • Albertazzie, Ralph, and Jerald F. Terhorst. Flying White House: The Story of Air Force One. Book Sales: 1979. ISBN 0-698-10930-9.
  • Braun, David. Q&A: U.S. Presidential Jet Air Force One. National Geographic News, May 29, 2003
  • Dorr, Robert F. Air Force One. Motorbooks International: 2002. ISBN 0-7603-1055-6.
  • Hardesty, Von. Air Force One: The Aircraft that Shaped the Modern Presidency. Northword Press: 2003. ISBN 1-55971-894-3.
  • Harris, Tom. How Air Force One Works. Accessed October 10, 2006.
  • Technical Order 00-105E-9, Segment 9, Chapter 7 [1]
  • United States Air Force. Air Force One Fact Sheet. July 2003.
  • Walsh, Kenneth T. Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes. Hyperion: 2003. ISBN 1-4013-0004-9.

See also


Related development

Comparable aircraft

See also

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Template:US transport aircraft Template:PresidentialCallsigns Template:Boeing support aircraft

cs:Air Force One da:Air Force One de:Air Force One es:Air Force One fr:Air Force One hr:Boeing VC-25 ko:VC-25 에어포스원 it:Air Force One he:אייר פורס 1 nl:Air Force One (roepletter) ja:VC-25 no:Boeing VC-25A pl:Air Force One pt:Boeing VC-25 fi:Air Force One sv:Air Force One vi:Air Force One zh:空军一号

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Boeing VC-25".