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A Symbol of power: Air Force One

President, Air Force One, planes, US Marine, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jackie Kennedy, power, Harrison Ford, Maryland

We have to think about the Air Force One meaning. Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President in office to travel by plane in 1943, air travel has been the favorite transport for every President since. Air Force One is the title by which the planes that transport the leader are identified. The fleet used for the purpose was two Boeing 707 that began operating in 1962. The current fleet is served by two Boeing 747, which have served the President from 1990. For shorter journeys, the US Marine helicopter known as Marine One is used.

The planes, which are operated from Andrews Air Force base in Maryland, have been modified to suit the needs of the President and his entourage. Its three floors are designed for maximum comfort, convenience and security. The President can rest or work in his office. The planes can carry 76 passengers and have areas for journalists, senior staff members, Secret Service agents and other security staff. Air force One is a major investment, with each plane costing around $325 million.

The well equipped facilities include emergency medical equipment, pharmacy and even an operating table. There is always a doctor on board each flight. The President's private office has all the usual office equipment, in addition to numerous telephones and television sets. The Executive Suite is where the President can sleep if he chooses to do so or take a shower. He can even run on the on board treadmill if he wants to keep fit. Of course, security is the highest priority on Air Force One, and everything is in place for the plane to act as a military headquarters should a national emergency arise. The plane is able to jam the signal from radar and heat seeking missiles. It is capable of refueling whilst in flight, and has anti-missile equipment.

There have been some historical moments on Air Force One, notably after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson traveled on the plane that was taking the President's body back to Washington along with Jackie Kennedy. He was worried, in the light of the Cold War that prevailed, that there was no one officially filling the Presidential role and he insisted on being sworn in as the new President as they flew. This was done and in the presence of a grieving Mrs. Kennedy.

This symbol of power has become an integral part of the political system for the White House. Air Force One has been featured in novels and films as an exciting backdrop to the plot, namely in the 1997 movie starring Harrison Ford, Air Force One. It's hard to imagine a President without this mode of transport now.
Published: 2007-08-17
Author: Zora

About the author or the publisher
French journalist and Editor-in-chief of a new magazine about Africa

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