Air Force One Up Close


And now for something completely different. Today, we’re going to forget about commercial aviation and talk about Air Force One. I had the chance to see it up close yesterday, and I’ve got plenty of pics.

Some of you may know that I volunteer at my home airport, Long Beach Airport. On Wednesday night, I received a note saying that volunteers had been invited to go see Air Force One the following morning since it was using Long Beach for the President’s visit to California this week. It took me about 3 seconds to respond that I’d be there. And here it is:

From Afar

Ok, so technically it wasn’t Air Force One because the President wasn’t onboard. When the President isn’t on the plane, it’s just a VC-25A (military-speak for the 747-200s assigned to this duty) with the registration 28000. But that didn’t make it any less cool.

It’s a beautiful bird, isn’t it? If you haven’t seen it, the National Geographic Channel did an hour long special on the plane that’s worth watching.

Entry Door

It’s a bummer that the marine layer was out in full force yesterday morning, but it didn’t ruin the experience at all. Just seeing that big flag on the tail makes you proud to be an American.

Kudos to the Long Beach Airport for actively getting several people out to see the plane and to President Obama’s team for allowing people to actually get this close.

See the rest of my pictures of Air Force One including one video.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

19 comments on “Air Force One Up Close

  1. Very cool. I am surprised no one was around the plane when you took your pictures. I will have to take a look at your video, but is it as gleamy as often said? I understand the maintenance team spends a lot of time on presentation (waxing, buffing).

  2. TR1 – There was someone from the President’s team in the truck next to the open door, and he was watching. Airport police was also visible. It’s my understanding that everyone else was either on the plane at the time or on surrounding buildings with the ability to stop anything bad from happening. The best security is the kind you can’t see, I suppose.

    And yes, it was incredibly shiny and polished. It looked absolutely immaculate, even in the dull marine layer’s light. As one of the guys with me said, “do you know how important you have to be to even be able to polish that plane?”

  3. Nicholas and Vidiot – There are a couple of different things volunteers can do. One thing is to give tours. There is a steady stream of groups of kids that we take on tours of the airport. They also have an ambassador program where people stand around and help people who need it. I do more of the former than the latter, because the latter is only needed during busy times of day, and those don’t generally work well for me. Still, I’ve done that before and it can be fun.

    The program isn’t strict like Traveler’s Aid – you can volunteer when you have the time, so it’s really great to get involved. If anyone is interested, contact Maricela de Rivera at (562) 570-2674 or email at

  4. Awesome pics Cranks! How does it compare with the old Air Force 1 over at Boeing field in Seattle? I saw that one and the Concorde a few years ago. BTW, very useful info on being an airport volunteer. Why didn’t I think of that?! I gotta check that out the DC area airports.

  5. Dave – I’ve actually never seen the old 707 at Boeing Field, but I really should make the drive up to the Ronald Reagan Library where they have one as well. I’m sure that this one has more on the inside, but I don’t know the details.

    If you’re in DC, you can volunteer with Travelers Aid. I did that during my four years in college and loved it.

  6. It’s interesting when Secret Service lets you take pictures and when they don’t. I was in Quantico once and saw Marine One. They didn’t let me take pictures of it, but they will of Air Force One and Air Force Two.

  7. Great share Cranky! Thanks much for posting.

    David: when I lived in DC and had a few ‘up close and personal’ moments with Marine One…it was my understanding that it is equipted with some external bells and whistles that the Secret Service does not want shared…that is why pics were forbidden. Even the media is restricted, during photo ops, of taking pictures of M1 from certain angles

  8. I must say that was a pretty good catch for your blog.. Not everybody get to see the Air Force One up close like that..

    I wouldn’t mind a tour inside that plane..

    Btw: What do they do with the old Air Force Ones? Are they in a museum?

  9. David/Eric – While they were fine with taking pictures, they were a bit concerned about where we took pictures. So we couldn’t take pics from the front or back. So, I’m sure they were still trying to hide some sensitive areas.

    winter travel – Well, one is at Boeing Field and another is at the Ronald Reagan Library here in SoCal. I think the Smithsonian may have an old presidential transport as well. Any others?

  10. Did they make any mention of why LGB was chosen? I’d think that security might be easier at LAX….or perhaps the Los Al base down the 405.

  11. Tim – LAX would have been a mess, because it could really disrupt the frequent commercial traffic. Security is pretty easy at LGB, but Los Al probably would have been ideal. I’m sure there was a reason that they couldn’t use Los Al for one reason for another and that’s why they chose LGB.

  12. My wife works near LGB, and on her way home, she noticed that a lot of parents had brought their children to see the President take off. I would have loved to have seen that as a kid. And as far as Los Al, I guess it doesn’t help that our mayor was forced to resign last month for sending some “joke” emails involving Obama. You’re right about LAX though, my dad worked for what seemed like half a year on preparations for the Queen flying on Air New Zealand into LAX. And that was just a layover.

    Thanks again for the pictures!

  13. You sure it was the primary AF1 and not the backup? There’s two and supposedly the backup follows/shadows the primary around the country/world.

  14. Doug – Yes. This was the aircraft on which Obama flew in and out. I’m not sure where the backup was, but I would guess it was at Edwards or some other AFB close enough.

  15. I am an employee of JetBlue at LGB. It definitely was AF1. We listened for it on our air to ground radios, an heard the Capt call out AF1 during his transmissions. The reason it landed at LGB was due to runway maintenance at Los Al. We had a complete ground stop on the terminal ramp. We weren’t even allowed to offload or upload our a/c because that would require us to move and operate ground equipment. The ground stop was in effect 15 before arrival and for about 20 minutes after. I watched the arrival from the DeVry lot, but was at work for the departure. If you saw the LB Press Telegram from the day after his arrival you will see me, my two boys (the blondes), and my 3 nephews on the cover. Something my boys will have forever.

Leave a Reply to David Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier