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Boeing VC-25 (Air Force One)

Presidential Air Transport Aircraft [ 1990 ]

The Boeing VC-25 aircraft is only designated as Air Force One when the president is officially aboard.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/19/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The VC-25 is used to usher the President of the United States and his staff on various journeys around the globe. The VC-25 is essentially a highly-modified Boeing 747-200B series model featuring state-of-the-art communications and air defense measures consistent with protecting a high ranking head of state. Two Boeing 747-200B's were converted to this VC-25 status and operate with tail numbers 28000 and 29000 respectively. Both aircraft are flown simultaneously for security and logistical reasons. It should be noted that this aircraft - or any USAF aircraft for that matter - is not officially designated as "Air Force One" until the president is onboard. John F. Kennedy's VC-137 was the first presidential aircraft to be popularly known as "Air Force One".

The idea of an aircraft dedicated to transporting the President of the United States began in 1944 with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the lovingly named "Sacred Cow" - a converted C-54 transport aircraft. President Harry S. Truman followed in his DC-6 Liftmaster series, this covering 1947 through 1953. President Dwight D. Eisenhower operated from the Columbine's II and III between 1953 and 1961. President John F. Kennedy traveled in his VC-137, a converted Boeing 707 model series.

Kennedy's VC-137 (tail number 26000) was based on a USAF C-137C model which in turn was based on the Boeing 707. This aircraft gained more significance in becoming the aircraft used to transport Kennedy's body back from Dallas, Texas in 1963. The aircraft served as the official office to which Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States following Kennedy's assassination at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald. Today, this very aircraft resides at the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aircraft exhibit details the event complete with text and pictures showing the swearing in and the area of the aft portion of the interior cabin modified to fit the coffin of John F. Kennedy for the trip back to Washington, D.C. Interestingly enough, the same aircraft transported the body of President Lyndon B. Johnson back to Texas for final rest. President Richard M. Nixon utilized VC-137 on his historic visits to China and the Soviet Union.

VC-25 (as VC-25A) arrived in 1990 with tail number 28000 (27000 served Nixon, Ford and Carter). Its first flight was in transporting President George Bush senior on September 6th 1990. The aircraft was officially introduced on December 8th, 1990. A second VC-25A (tail number 29000) was commissioned afterwards - introduced on December 23rd, 1990 - making up the full fleet of Air Force Ones on call. VC-25 with tail number 29000 was deployed for the first time on March 26th, 1991. These two VC-25's are still in operational service with the United States Air Force and they are intended to serve for quite some time longer.©MilitaryFactory.com
The VC-25 differs from existing passenger Boeing 747's mostly in an internal way. The aircraft features a self-contained baggage loader, capability for in-flight refueling and front and rear "air-stairs". Additionally, cutting edge technology is spared at no expense in the navigation, real-time communications and electronic systems used throughout the design. The aircraft features a slew of anti-missile functionality that is held classified. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 furthered the communications capabilities of the design to a degree, evolving the VC-25 even further based on this "new world order". The interior furnishings are also consistent with the level of government and combine the comforts of a working office and the White House in a self-contained mobile platform.

The main galley can serve up to 100 persons at a given time while the crew has access to their own smaller galley as well as a lounge area. Passengers are also offered up six lavatories and full disabled access. Some 102 total passengers can be carried aboard with these consisting of a mix of guests, media personnel, security and Secret Service and presidential staffers.

The president has full access to his own in-flight office and the executive suite which contains the stateroom and comforts such as a shower, lavatory and dressing room. In addition, a conference room doubles as a dining room for family and close staff. Air Force One is also stocked with medical equipment to address minor injuries and situations.

Power for the VC-25 is supplied by four massive General Electric series CF6-80C2B1 engines delivering upwards of 56,700lbs of thrust each engine. The aircraft flies higher and faster than her commercial counterparts, yielding a top speed of 630 miles per hour and a ceiling of 45,100 feet. Range is also an important factor in a presidential transport and VC-25 does not disappoint, supplying an in-flight distance capability of up to 7,800 statute miles. With the in-flight refueling capability, this distance becomes essentially unlimited.

The pair of VC-25's are held in a special unmarked hanger at Andrews Air Force Base under intense security. The aircraft is thoroughly inspected, cleaned and waxed before every flight and must be ready at a moment's notice. Events on September 11th, 2001, exacerbated the need for the President to be in full communications with his people on the ground and the American people as well as add a defensive tool against any possible enemy attacks directly targeting the President. Pilots and crewmembers of Air Force One are carefully selected for their service to the president, a service that is deemed an honor to all with most holding their respective positions for years and even decades in some cases.

The new VC-25B has been announced as the official modernized successor to the line. This variant uses the Boeing 747-800 as its framework and two such airframes will be refurbished for the role. The pair were originally constructed for a no-longer-existing Russian airline. For the interim, VC-25A models will continue flying.©MilitaryFactory.com
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March 2020 - The first 747-800 passenger airliner has begun structural modification by Boeing to convert the type into a VC-25B Presidential transport. The cost of modification alone is $84 million USD. All the told, the program will reach peak cost at $5.3 billion.

April 2020 - The Critical Design Review (CDR) phase for the VC-25B variant has been completed - much of it done through virtual meetings.

July 2022 - The newest addition to the VC-25 lineup, the VC-25B, has had its delivery date delayed from 2024 to 2026 due to supply issues.


Boeing Airplane Company - USA
United States
Operators National flag of the United States
Service Year
United States
National Origin
Project Status

Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.

232.0 ft
(70.70 meters)
195.5 ft
(59.60 meters)
63.3 ft
(19.30 meters)
826,403 lb
(374,850 kilograms)
Maximum Take-Off Weight
monoplane / low-mounted / swept-back
Mainplane Arrangement
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represents the most popular modern mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.

4 x General Electric CF6-80C2B1 non-afterburning turbofan engines developing 56,700 pounds of thrust each.
629 mph
(1,013 kph | 547 knots)
Max Speed
472 mph
(760 kph | 410 knots)
Cruise Speed
+157 mph
(+253 kph | 137 knots)
Speed Difference
45,098 ft
(13,746 m | 9 miles)
7,798 miles
(12,550 km | 6,776 nm)

MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


VC-25 - USAF designation for modified Boeing 747-200B aircraft.
VC-25A - Base Model; two examples with tail numbers 28000 and 29000 in use.
VC-25B - Modernized variant based in the Boeing Model 747-8 "Intercontinental" passenger airliner; directly succeeds VC-25A fleet aircraft; expected service entry in 2026.

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