Secrets about Air Force One that only the President knows


Air Force One is the aircraft carrier that transports the President of the United States and his administration from point A to point B. There is a lot that happens while the plane is in the air – from little-known facts about the plane itself to behavior aboard the plane by the presidents over the years – all of which has been covered up in order to keep the administrations from any embarrassment. We decided it would be interesting to take a look at Air Force One from an insider’s perspective.

President Bush Jr. signed the Department of Homeland Security into existence aboard AF1

Decisions have been made on board Air Force One since its inception. However, one of the biggest decisions in US history was made by President George W. Bush in 2002 when Air Force One was flying over Germany. It was on that flight that Bush approved the creation of the Homeland Security Department of the United States. This department was created as a direct result of the September 11th attacks and still exists today.


Air Force One travels at 650 MPH

The usual speed of a 747 is around 570MPH. Air Force One flies at a speed of 650MPH, because, you know, the president needs to get where he is going faster. There could be another reason for the plane to go faster than others, perhaps it has to do with security concerns. Although we think that there would be no plane around AF1 if they knew what was good for them. In all seriousness, Air Force One can go up to between 650MPH and 700MPH easily.


President Ford’s administration stocked up on Coors

Ah beer, the American drink of choice. Coors beer meant a lot to President Ford and his administration, so much so that they stocked up on the beverage when it was hard to find back then. Coors beer was more accessible in the eleven western states. Ford’s administration staffers would go to Colorado and get the beer, bring it back to Air Force One and fly it back to Washington D.C. Keepin’ it classy, Mr. President.


Air Force One is a mobile command center

Very much like Air Force One is an above-ground bunker, it is also a mobile command center when it needs to be, like during a terror attack. In the event of another terror attack on US soil, like the one on the World Trade Center on September 11th, Air Force One is equipped to handle the president and the administration high up in the air in case the White House is no longer safe.


Reagan had the plane stocked with jelly beans

It seems President Ronald Reagan had a thing for jelly beans. While Reagan was in office, his staff made sure that there were jelly beans aboard Air Force One. Reagan also has a jar of the stuff in the Oval Office. We hope he also had a dentist on call since there is no chance he didn’t get himself some cavities from all that candy. Well, it could be worse.


Boeing 747 floor plan

Air Force One is a Boeing 747 airplane. Inside the plane, the layout is that of three decks and three doors to come in and out of aircraft. The president always enters and leaves the plane via the middle deck door that has stairs attached to them. The press that travels with the president enters and leaves the plane from the rear door of the plane, directly into the middle deck so that they do not stumble upon sensitive information aboard the cabin.


President Clinton used to listen to blast jazz on board AF1

President Clinton sure did love his jazz. The president, an avid saxophonist, played DJ aboard Air Force One when he would play his favorite jazz pieces in a very loud manner. The reason Clinton played the music so loud had less to do with the fact that he was president and could do what he wanted and more to do with the fact that he has hearing problems.


Air Force One can fly endlessly

Think of the fact that Air Force One can be refueled mid-air, meaning that it never needs to touch the ground again. The plane will never run out of fuel as long as it gets the necessary boost every couple days or so. Aerial refueling has a lot of benefits in this case, both in terms of security and in terms of one great way to have a trip around the world in one go!


There is a hospital on-board

When there is a president on board it makes sense that there would be a mini hospital too. The plane is fit to handle almost any medical case that is thrown their way mid-flight. There is a doctor, operating room, and medicine to ensure that if anything were to happen, Air Force One is prepared. The plane is so big that it the medical area of the plane is actually a medical suite. From Advil to Penicillin, you’ll find it all.


It can handle being nuked

Air Force One is more than just a plane, it is essentially a bomb shelter. If there is ever a time where the White House is compromised and there needs to be a place for the president and his family to go during a time of war, Air Force One is the place. The plane can withstand a blast from a nuclear bomb from the ground. Amazing that a plane can be safer than the White House itself.


Air Force One always has a doctor aboard

Since there is a fully equipped hospital on board Air Force One, it makes sense that a doctor would always be on board in case of an emergency. It is protocol that every time the president board Air Force One, a doctor needs to be on board along with him. The doc doesn’t have to sit next to him the whole time but he just needs to be there!


Journalists aboard AF1 loved watching Fargo

In an ironic chain of events, journalists LOVED watching Fargo while on board Air Force One. The Coen Brothers film was the most played film on board during Clinton’s bid for reelection. Journalist, Helen Thomas, stated that the film was “the record-holder of Longest Playing Film Aboard Air Force One.” Interesting to think that they were probably flying over Fargo, ND while they were watching the film!


There’s another 747 that’s called a Doomsday Plane

In the unlikely event of a mushroom cloud, alien invasion or any other sci-fi movie scenario, there is a military grade 747 plane that is always on alert. This plane is called a doomsday plane because it is activated by a military codename – E-4B, and can be in the air faster than any explosion that would try to overtake it, as well as stay above ground for several days. Now that is one nice backup plan, Mr. President!


President Bush Sr. banned broccoli from AF1

In a case much like our own childhood, President Bush Sr. did not like broccoli in any way shape or form. He hated broccoli so much that he banned it from Air Force One entirely! The no broccoli rule extended to the White House as well. Now that’s dedication to hating the little green trees! We wonder what would have happened if someone decided to bring the vegetable on board…


There are around 240 miles worth of electrical wiring aboard AF1

Air Force One holds a lot of computers, telephones and overall electrical appliances and system on board. Therefore, when we heard that there are approximately 240 miles worth of electrical wiring on board, we were only slightly shocked; 240 miles is A LOT of wiring! The wires are within the pannels of the aircraft and connect everything from the screens to the communication devices that connect the plane with the ground.

President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport for departure from Cleveland, Ohio en route to Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 14, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

The price to operate the plane for one hour is $56K

You don’t want to know how much building this aircraft cost (spoiler – we tell you in a little bit), but you will get a slight indication when we tell you that operating this plane costs a mind-blowing $56,000 an hour! What on earth could cost so much per hour? Is the fuel made of liquid gold? Anyway, that is the cost, whether we can wrap our minds around it or not. That’s our good tax payer dollars well spent!


The plane has two kitchens

Air Force One is equipped with more than a medical suite, it has not one but TWO kitchens on board. Since the plane can hold a little less than 100 people, two kitchens are absolutely needed to feed those mouths. In addition, this isn’t a standard commercial flight, they will be feeding the president of the free world, so it’s at the very least going to be warm! The kitchens aboard AF1 are standard size and much bigger than the usual airplane kitchen afforded to stewardesses.


The plane spans over 4,000 square feet

There are a lot of people aboard Air Force One, not to mention computers, kitchens (yes, we mean plural), and seats for everyone. That kind of stock needs a lot of space, so when we heard that Air Force One spans 4,000 square feet and three levels, we were first very surprised as that is bigger than most homes, and then we processed the thought and figured out it made sense.


There are assigned seats

Rule one – the president can sit anywhere he pleases, rule two is that everyone else has assigned seats. The press and secret service agents all have their own designated place to sit aboard Air Force One. The reason behind this is for security as the press cannot hear everything that is going on on board so they are in a specific location, while the secret service agents need to be placed strategically about the plane.


It cost $660 million to build Air Force One

A plane like Air Force One, with all of its unique elements and capabilities, would absolutely cost a fortune to create. We have to admit, though, we had no idea it cost $660 million! The plane that is basically a flying White House and can handle everything that the White House can, but with one hefty price tag. The installments for paying off Air Force One were broken up to $140 million payments.


Air Force One can hold 100 people

Air Force One has a hospital on board, along with two kitchens, a press area, and plenty of places to walk around. Air Force One can hold 100 people at full capacity. While commercial flights can hold more people, take into consideration that there are couches, tables, desks and space on this plane, as well as three levels – it is downright huge.


Refueling Air Force One while airborne

Air Force One can do what no other plane can do, it can refuel while airborne! Imagine not having to land somewhere and wait for the plane to be refueled, that would be amazing! Obviously, this has more to do with security, as landing in a foreign country with the President of the United States on board isn’t the safest thing in the world. Air Force One can be refueled up to the 35,000-foot mark. Sensational!


Air traffic isn’t a problem for Air Force One

Commercial flights have to deal with a specific schedule and have to work with air traffic controllers to maintain the careful balance of incoming and outgoing flights from any particular airport. However, Air Force One does not stop or delay for anyone, everyone stops and delays for them. If Air Force One is at JFK, for example, and needs to leave at a moments notice, all flight in and out of JFK are to be halted so that AF1 may depart.


In 1959 it was practically a spy plane

The 1950s were the height of the Cold War. America was so paranoid, and the president more than anyone, that the administration had small yet very powerful cameras installed in Air Force One’s wheel wells so that they could capture images on the ground of where they were over. The cameras were so accurate that they could capture the image of a license plate from 29,000 feet in the air!


Air Force One has 85 telephones on board

There are no less than 85 phones aboard Air Force One. We find this very curious as according to every flight we have ever taken, we had to turn off all electronic devices that send out electrical waves. Sigh. We guess the president has a loop whole. We are guessing that the phones are there for the use of the administration as well as the press aboard at all times.


President Clinton had his hair cut aboard AF1 putting LAX on hold

In a sheer abuse of power and a little rude too, back in 1993, President Clinton made all of LAX stand still until Air Force One was safely away from the tarmac. Why was the president delayed, you ask? He was getting his hair cut aboard the plane and so everyone had to wait until he was done in order for things to go back to normal. Not cool, Bill.