The History of Air Force One So Far…

Air Force One.
CPL Roman Gray, USMC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Air Force One is one of the most iconic symbols of the United States. Let’s take a look back at the history of the symbol so far.

It embodies the power and prestige of the nation’s highest office while also instilling a sense of patriotism and pride in millions of Americans.

Photo Credit: Thomas Saunders/AviationSource

But have you ever wondered how Air Force One came to be? What was its history like before it became known as the President’s airplane?

Read on to find out more about Air Force One – from its humble origins to its current status as an international symbol of power.

The Early Years

U.S. Air Force photo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the early years of presidential aviation, Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower all used a variety of different aircraft for their travel.

None of these planes were specifically designated as “Air Force One” – that name would not come into use until later on.

However, in 1945, Roosevelt did become the first President to fly in a dedicated Air Force plane when he was flown in a Douglas C-54 Skymaster to the Yalta Conference in the Soviet Union.

This plane was nicknamed the “Sacred Cow” and had been outfitted with special features like an elevator and a bedroom for Roosevelt (who was wheelchair-bound at the time).

After Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Truman took over as President and continued to use the Sacred Cow for his travels.

Air Force One.
Photo Credit: Thomas Saunders/AviationSource

However, he also used a variety of other planes depending on the situation. For example, he sometimes flew in commercial airliners when traveling within the United States.

It wasn’t until Eisenhower became President in 1953 that a specific plane began to be used regularly as the “Air Force One”.

This was a modified Boeing 707 jetliner that had been specifically designed for presidential travel.

It featured state-of-the-art amenities and security features, and it quickly became the standard plane used by all subsequent presidents.

Modern Air Force One

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial warfare service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and one of the seven American uniformed services.

The USAF is headquartered at the Pentagon, and it is the world’s largest air force with more than 5,000 aircraft in its active fleet.

Air Force One.
Photo Credit: Thomas Saunders/AviationSource

The Air Force also has nearly 300,000 personnel on active duty and over 70,000 in the Reserve.

The modern Air Force One is a Boeing 747-200B series aircraft that entered into service in 1990.

The plane is highly customized to serve the needs of the President of the United States while in flight, and it features a state-of-the-art communications system, a presidential suite, and other amenities.

The current fleet of Air Force One aircraft is scheduled to be replaced by newer 747-8s starting in 2024.

The Future of Air Force One

As the current fleet of Air Force One aircraft nears the end of its service life, the U.S. Air Force is in the process of procuring a new fleet of presidential aircraft.

Photo sourced from Aviation International News.

The new aircraft is expected to enter service in 2024 and will serve as the primary means of transport for the President of the United States for decades to come.

The new presidential aircraft will be based on the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, which is currently the largest and most advanced commercial airliner in service.

The airplanes will be heavily modified to accommodate the unique requirements of the president and his or her staff, including an extensive suite of communications and security systems.

The exterior of the new Air Force One aircraft will retain the traditional blue-and-white color scheme but with a more modern twist.

Radoslaw Idaszak (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

The interior will be spacious and luxurious, with room for up to 70 passengers and crew members.

The future of Air Force One is bright, and these new aircraft will provide presidents with a safe, comfortable, and technologically advanced means of travel for many years to come.


Air Force One has been a symbol of American power and prestige for nearly 70 years.

While its design has changed over the decades, it remains an iconic aircraft that presidents have used to travel around the world.

Today, Air Force One is one of the most recognizable planes in history, and every time it takes off, we can be sure that the commander-in-chief is safely on board.

Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast or simply curious about the history of this famous plane, it is definitely a thing of beauty.

By AviationSource News 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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