Jet City Roots: Everett’s Shared History with Air Force One Continues
The first time a sitting US President traveled overseas by air was 1943, which also happens to be the year Boeing made its first foray into downtown Everett, opening up in a defunct auto garage down on Pacific Avenue.
Air Force One is not one single plane or the name of a craft but the military call sign used for any plane that has a President on board; thus, the ‘Dixie Clipper’ became America’s first Air Force One (AF1). It was among the largest aircraft of its time, designed for intercontinental flight, a feat that was achieved by the application of Boeing’s XB-15 prototype bomber wings, which were 149 feet in span and considered massive at the time.
The ‘Sacred Cow’ was the very first aircraft built specifically to carry the commander-in-chief, this time based on the 707-120. The 707 series went on the serve as the presidential aircraft of choice. This continued up until the 90s, when Reagan ordered to be replaced by the 747-200s, which began ferrying George H.W. Bush through to Obama and now Trump.
Obama’s administration selected the newest upgraded version of AF1 in January of 2015, which are Boeing VC-25Bs, or in non-militarized terms, the 747-8.
According to an White House spokesperson, “President Trump has reached an informal deal on a fixed price contract for a new Air Force One program.” The total cost is expected to reach $3.9B.
According to USAF Secretary, Deborah Lee James, “The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the US that when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission.”
The two planes that currently make up Air Force One include 4000 square feet of passenger space each, come equipped with a Situation room, a ‘flying Oval Office’, dining room, private staff and Presidential quarters, just to name a few perks.
In regard to its missionized aspects, the fuselage can withstand a nuclear blast from the ground, and its wings are equipped with flares to confuse and mislead heat-seeking missiles, as well as a countermeasure defense system for radar jamming, mirror-ball defenses (to "dazzle infrared guidance systems) and armored windows. Lastly, it never flies without a doctor on every single flight.
As elaborate as it sounds, these particular planes have been out of production for two decades, and in our new world of microtechnology and advanced understanding of the sciences, it seems strange to be taxiing our presidents around in an industrial dinosaur.
New engines and frequent upgrades don’t change the fact that when these 747-200s rolled out in 1990, the most advanced IBM computer came equipped with the mind-blowing memory capacity of a single gigabyte, and its floppy disk drive was 5.25 inches. The new Air Force Once will fly further, faster, and be the safest it has ever been. At the rapid rate technology is advancing at, it will be a marvel of enterprise and Boeing ingenuity.
Images and select information courtesy of: http://www.boeing.com/history/products/model-314-clipper.page