Air Force One - A Special Plane for the American President
Air Force One is a symbol of the United States Presidency. Each time the President travels overseas or across the country he does so in his high-tech jet. It is his own flying office and serves as a commando bunker in times of war and when the United States is at danger, as during the 9/11 attacks.
The plane is a Boeing 747 that has been changed and reconstructed to suit the president’s needs. It is as tall as a six storey building and as long as a city block. Air Force One can travel at a speed of up to one thousand km an hour and fly as high as 15 000 metres. With a full tank it can travel half way around the world.
Inside Air Force One looks more like a business office than an airplane. There are three decks: The lowest deck of the plane is the cargo area. It holds the luggage, food and other equipment. The middle deck is the passenger area. The President and his staff work here. In addition to the President’s bedroom, there are bathrooms, and other private rooms. The president and his advisors get together for meetings in special conference rooms. There is a separate area for reporters who travel with the president. The upper deck consists of the cockpit and the communications room. All together about 70 passengers and 26 crew members can travel on board Air Force One.
As Air Force One is not a normal plane it has special features that other jetliners do not have. An onboard doctor travels with the President at all times and there is even a small operating room on the plane.
The 747 can be refuelled in mid-air and is therefore able to stay skyborne without landing for a long time. It has 85 onboard telephones, two-way radios, fax machines and computer connections. The President and his advisors can get into contact with almost anyone in the world while flying at 15,000 metres.
Air Force One is stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Every time the President travels, a helicopter, Marine One, brings him from the White House to Andrews.
Until World War II not very many presidents travelled far away from their home country. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to fly to a conference in Casablanca, Morocco. He went by plane because it was too dangerous to travel by ship. German submarines were constantly attacking Allied boats.
Regular travelling became popular towards the end of the 1950s when presidents started using a Boeing 707 to travel abroad. In November, 1963 it took John F. Kennedy to Dallas, Texas. After the assassination of the president the body was taken back on the same plane in which Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as Kennedy’s successor.
In 1990 the old 707 was replaced by the 747 that is still in use today.
Conference Room on Air Force One
Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets
- 9/11 = the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon
- abroad = another country, in most cases overseas
- advisor = someone who helps the president and gives him advice
- Allied = the countries that fought against Germany in the war : Great Britain, France, The United States and Russia
- assassination = the killing of a famous person
- attack = to hurt a person or damage something
- cargo = goods or other things that are carried on board a plane or ship
- consist of = to be made of two or more things or objects
- constantly = always
- equipment = tools, machines, clothes you need to do something
- feature = characteristic
- in addition = also
- in use = in operation
- luggage = suitcases that you take with you when you travel
- needs = what you need to live a normal life
- overseas = a country outside the USA
- popular = common
- reconstruct = rebuild, to make or design in a new way
- refuel = to fill up a plane or car with petrol before continuing a journey
- replace =to use instead of
- serve =to have a certain job or task
- sky borne = to be in the sky
- speed =how fast something is
- staff = the people who work for the president
- stationed = to be at a certain place and wait until it is needed
- storey = floor
- submarine = a ship that can stay and travel under water
- successor = the person who takes the job that someone else had before
- suit = to be acceptable for
- swear in = to officially take on a new job