Part One – Head of State Transport

I previously talked about the origins of Air Force One and its connection to the Kennedy administration. However, the President of the United States is not alone in having a dedicated airborne ride.

This will be a multi-post effort to catalogue the VIP aircraft of many nations. Try and take a look and see if your country is included.

Canada

The Canadian government has one CC-150 Polaris (Airbus A310) and eight CC-144s (Challenger business jets) for use by the Governor-General, Prime Minister, Royal Family and other VIPs.  There was something of a political controversy when the larger Airbus was repainted a few months ago from an air force grey to a more colorful livery.

A CC-150 Polaris with its new livery (Photo: Sergeant Vaughan Lightowler, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

A CC-150 Polaris sporting a new livery (Photo: Sergeant Vaughan Lightowler, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

Rarely photographed bedroom on Canada's VIP CC-150 Polaris (Photo: Master Corporal Marc-Andre Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

Rarely photographed bedroom on Canada’s VIP CC-150 Polaris (Photo: Master Corporal Marc-Andre Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

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How Air force One Got Its Distinctive Look

A modern VC-25B (747) as Air Force One (Photo: Elizabeth Slater/ U. S. Air Force)

As the media has paid recent attention to Air Force One, I thought I would take a few moments to discuss how this aircraft got its iconic livery and became a symbol of the president and the nation. Air Force One is an integral part of American state ceremony. It ferries the president to locations beyond Washington and takes him on foreign visits. The image of the president waving on the steps of the aircraft when he arrives or departs has become so iconic it has almost become obligatory. Often on foreign visits, an honor guard is found at the steps of the aircraft and dignitaries lined up to greet the president. Many would be surprised to find that the aircraft that transports the President was not always blue and white, in fact, it was once orange! Presidents Roosevelt and Truman flew in various propeller-driven aircraft and it wasn’t until the end of President Eisenhower’s first term that a set of jet-powered Boeing 707s were delivered to the U.S. Air Force. Like all VIP aircraft in the fleet, they were painted in a high visibility orange with the words “Military Air Transport Service” written on the side. There was really nothing indicating the importance of their mission or the person they carried. Continue reading