What goes on aboard Air Force One is revealed in Channel 5 documentary Inside Air Force One: Secrets of the Presidential Plane
It’s called ‘the White House in the sky’, and now we get to go on board Air Force One, the £350m Boeing 747 that transports the President around the world in Channel 5 documentary Inside Air Force One: Secrets of the Presidential Plane.
Donald Trump is the first leader in 30 years to order an entirely new plane (he would, wouldn’t he?), and the current one has been fortified with £1 billion worth of security features that include armour plating and a hidden missile-defence system.
Onboard staff recall the highs and lows of working on this icon.
‘Everything that goes on in Air Force One has been secured by the Secret Service,’ reveals Commander Mark Tillman, one of the plane’s longtime pilots.
‘You can’t take a chance with anything going on with the President.’
As an extra precaution there are actually three Air Force Ones.
A second is used as backup and as a decoy, while a third – known as the Doomsday Plane – is built to fly for a week during a nuclear attack.
Security is so tight that even the food served to the President on board must be tested first.
‘We had to make sure everything that was on that airplane that could be eaten or drunk had not been tampered with,’ says former chief steward Howie Franklin, who worked with five consecutive presidents.
The plane has also seen some extraordinary historical events.
It flew John F Kennedy on his ill-fated trip to Dallas in 1963 and transported his body back after his assassination.
In 2001, President George W Bush even governed from Air Force One, flanked by fighter jets, for several hours after the 9/11 terror attacks.
‘When presidents leave office and they’re asked what they’ll miss the most,’ says White House correspondent Ken Walsh, ‘they always say Air Force One.’