The How Air Force One works.


How does Air Force One work?

Air Force One, also known as “The flying White House,” is the President’s plane that he will use if he needs to fly across the country or overseas. However, this plane is much more than just a prestigious plane reserved for the President’s travel. This plane is a fully mobile and functional office that the President and his staff can use to conduct government business. During the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, this airplane was especially useful when other official offices, such as the White House and the Pentagon, were considered extremely dangerous places to be. The term “Air Force One” actually refers to the air traffic signal that is used to describe any United States Air Force aircraft that is carrying the President. Any aircraft that has the Vice President onboard is known as “Air Force Two.” However, because “Air Force One” is most commonly the actual aircraft designed especially for the President, it is this aircraft that we will be discussing.

There are actually two planes that are commonly known as “Air Force One.” They are identical Boeing 747-200B jets. Their tail numbers are 28000 and 29000. They are massive aircraft, measuring over six feet high and are longer than one city block. The planes are powered by four General Electric CF6-80C2B1 jet engines and provide over 56,000 pounds of thrust a piece. They can fly approximately 700 miles an hour and can fly at a maximum of 45,100 feet altitude. When the plane is full of fuel it can carry 53,611 gallons of gas. This contributes to the total 833,000 pounds that the planes weigh when they are fully loaded. With the fuel tank fully loaded, the planes can fly halfway around the world!

The interior of Air Force One is comprised of three levels, just as standard jetliners are. The lower level is used to carry the cargo of the plane, the second level is used as passenger space and the upper level is used to hold the plane’s communication equipment. Inside there is 4,000 square feet of floor space and except for the seatbelts on all of the chairs, standing inside looks and feels more like standing in a luxury hotel suite rather than an airplane. The President has full living quarters onboard the jet. This includes a bedroom, bathroom, gym, and office space. The inside also has a large conference room which the staff will use for meetings and this space is also used as the President’s dining area. Staff members holding senior ranks also have their own office space and lounging areas to relax in. The flight crew has plenty of room for them to complete their jobs and there is also a separate area for reporters that are travelling with the President. In total, Air Force One can hold up to seventy passengers and twenty-six crew members.

Very few people in the world know the exact layout of Air Force One’s floor plan. This is because it is kept in the utmost confidentiality between those that do know. Some general items of the plane and the layout have been made public by those that have studied the plane and been onboard but even journalists, reporters, and other visitors onboard have certain areas of the plane kept off-limits to them. Passengers boarding Air Force One can enter through one of three doors. The front of the plane has one door which opens onto the middle deck of the plane. When the President can be seen boarding or disembarking the plane, he is using this door and a rolling staircase has been pulled up so he can get on or off and wave to his public. There are two other doors that open into the lower deck and it is one of these doors that journalists generally use to board the plane. They then climb the staircase to go immediately to the journalist’s area, which looks much like the first-class section of a regular airplane. There are plush, comfortable seats that are spaced wide enough apart that people have their own personal space. The crew also boards the plane from this lower deck door and from there, they can move to their respective areas of the plane where they work.

The area for the staff is also on the middle deck in the front of the plane. To the right of this area is the galley and the conference room. The conference room is so large that it almost covers the entire width of the plane, making it undoubtedly one of the biggest areas of the plane. Continued on from the conference room is a narrow hallway which leads to the passenger area at the back of the plane and some more work areas. The President’s suite is also at the front of the plane and on the middle deck. Near the door on the middle deck is another stairway, which leads to the upper deck. The crew can then walk straight from boarding the plane into the cockpit, communications, and lounge area which can all be found in the third floor of the airplane.

Because Air Force One is considered to be a military aircraft, it is designed as such and has many special features that allow it to withstand attack and serve as a military base for an extended period of time. This coupled with the fact that it holds what some consider to be the most powerful man in the world, means that the airplane has many features which would never be found on a regular airliner. The airplane and the crew are able to feed as many as 100 people at a time. There are two galleys on the plane which are fully capable of cooking and preparing meals. In the lower deck are freezers that hold 2,000 meals. The plane also has a medical room where a fully-stocked pharmacy and medical equipment are held. A fold-out operating table is available for emergency surgery and an onboard doctor travels with the President wherever he goes.

The stairways leading to the upper and lower decks are fully retractable and the plane also has its own automatic method of loading baggage. This eliminates the need of loading the plane at an airport, which could put the safety of the plane and those onboard at risk. If nothing else impresses you about Air Force One, the sheer number of electronics found onboard will. There are 85 telephones, 19 televisions, and countless number of radios, fax machines, and computer connections. The phone system is set up for both secure and unsecure lines, with all lines reaching to just about anywhere in the world. This allows the President to conduct important business while up in the air.

Heavy shielding is used as protection for the 238 miles of wiring and the other electronic components should the plane come under nuclear attack. Because the plane needs to be prepared for any situation, including staying up in the air for an extended period of time, the plane has an in-flight fueling system, which allows the plane to be refilled with fuel while it is still in the air. Electronic counter measures are also used so that the plane cannot be detected by enemy radar and the plane is also equipped with dozens of flares, that when released will attract heat-seeking missiles that were meant for the very powerful plane.

Even the procedure for the President to board the plane is kept regimented and with extreme security measures. Before it is time to go, the President will be brought to Andrews Air Force Base via Marine One, the President’s helicopter. While the President is en route, the crew at Andrews Air Force Base keeps a close watch for unauthorized aircraft in the area and have been instructed to shoot on sight. When the President arrives, he has “the football” on his person. “The football” is a briefcase filled with procedures in the event of nuclear deployment. Before boarding Air Force One, the President will give these to an on-ground officer.

Every aspect of Air Force One is kept highly secretive and confidential. The crew members consist of pilots, co-pilots, and stewards just like other airliners but unlike commercial jetliners, this crew is put under extreme scrutiny and must hold high military standings. Even those that prepare food onboard Air Force One must have excellent past service histories and when they buy the President’s food, it must be while they are undercover and the location from which they buy the food must be changed at random. This is all in an effort to keep the President from becoming poisoned. This crew will provide twenty-four hour service of the finest quality and standards while the aircraft is in the air. The President generally has a very good relationship with his crew and they all become very close during the time that the President is in office. A final flight onboard Air Force One is always a very emotional one for the President and his crew.

Air Force One

Air Force One.

 The How Air Force One works of Air Force One.

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