Aviation technology and engineering have certainly come a long way. With such strides made in aviation, it means that bigger and bigger aircraft can take to the skies. However, back in Harry S. Truman’s days, that was not the case. The 33rd US president’s presidential plane was called The Independence, built in 1947. It was a military version of the Douglas DC-6.
While the current 747-200B jets carry 76 passengers and 26 crew members, during Truman’s tenure, The Independence carried 25 passengers and nine crew members. Another noticeable change from 1947 is the amount of space. Despite carrying three times the number of passengers, it is a lot less cramped on the 747-200B jets.
Something that might surprise all of us is that US presidents like to keep fit. In fact, one thing that is common to many US presidents is that they all in some way have an exercise regime (except Trump – who spends very little if no time working out). Bush took up running, Obama loves basketball and works out every day, and Raegan was a fan of horse riding and swimming.
Of course, Bush couldn’t exactly do a 3-mile run up in the air on Air Force One, but he did have access to his own personal gym. The presidential suite comes kitted out with a private gym, so even if you’re flying high, that’s no excuse to skip a workout.
Prohibition in the Skies
Air Force One serves the US President, while Air Force Two is reserved for his VP. There’s one rather odd distinction between these two planes. One is dry, and the other isn’t. What we mean by “dry” is that the VP’s plane allows no alcohol onboard. Air Force One, on the other hand, allows the President to party it up.
We’re not exactly sure where this rule comes from, but it sounds like some archaic leftover from the days of prohibition. Who’d have thought that there’d be prohibition in the skies? The VP has all the time to ponder over this question while sipping a glass of water.
Retired Air Force One planes are part of US history, too. During the beginning of George W. Bush’s tenure, in 2001, the VC-137C SAM 27000 that flew under the radio call sign Air Force One was retired. Though the plane stepped down from its job of transporting US presidents, it's still serving its country.
SAM 27000 was taken apart and shipped to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Park. In the library’s huge hangar, visitors can now see the former Air Force One plane with their own eyes and actually explore its massive structure. Though none of us will ever get the chance to fly on Air Force One, touring SAM 27000 is the closest we can get to the real thing.
Air Force One isn’t the name of a specific plane. It’s the name of any aircraft carrying the president. In all of US history, only one president has had his own “Navy One.” After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (which sparked the US-Iraq war), President George W. Bush landed on the “USS Abraham Lincoln”.
The Lockheed S-3 Viking transporting the former president was dubbed “Navy One.” A Lockheed S-3 Viking was a twin-engine turbofan used in anti-submarine conflict. In 2003, Bush dubbed his Lockhead “Navy One,” not because of its color but because it acted as his naval transport aircraft to the “USS Abraham Lincoln.”