Showdown: Air Force One vs Trump Force One

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For four presidents, the two Boeing 747s that together operate as Air Force One have served as a mobile symbol of American prowess — an airborne White House from which the Leader of the Free World can hop around the globe with his support staff while maintaining 24/7 secure communications in order to run the country and command the military. President-elect Donald Trump, however, rates the planes a “meh.” He owns a 25-year-old Boeing 757 dubbed “Trump Force One” and claims Air Force One “a step down” from it “in every way.”

On December 6 he dissed the presidential ride again, Tweeting that the replacement Air Force One jets slated to come online in the mid 2020s will be too expensive. “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” (The actual budgeted figure is $2.7 billion.)

Could Trump’s animosity toward Air Force One lead him to ditch the aircraft in favor of his private jet? It’s an issue that’s never come up before; the unquestioned protocol has always been that the president must ride on military aircraft for reasons of both security and functionality. But Trump is no ordinary president. Gene Eisman, an Air Force One historian, says that as far as he knows there’s no law that says Trump can’t keep flying his 757. “It comes down to a question of judgement,” Eisman says.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Trump’s air-travel options:

Trump Force One

  • Type: Boeing 757-200
  • Cost:   $30 million
  • Operating cost:  $8,000 per hour
  • Age:   25 years
  • Range:   4,400 miles
  • Engines:  2
  • Passenger decks: 1
  • Top Speed:  609 mph
  • Length: 155 feet
  • Capacity:  43
  • Decor: Cream-colored Italian leather, 24-karat gold-plated seat belts
  • Galleys:  1
  • Special Amenities: Pillows embroidered with Trump family crest, Entertainment system with 1,000 movies
  • Defense armament: None
  • Video: 57-inch high-def TV screen
  • Aerial refueling? No
  • Formerly flew for Mexican discount airline? Yes
  • Famous pax: Gary Busey, Dennis Rodman
  • Cost for new replacement: N/A; 757 out of production

The Current Air Force One

  • Type:   Boeing 747-200B (two)
  • Cost:   $325 million each
  • Operating cost:  $179,750 per hour
  • Age:   one 26 years, one 25 years
  • Range:   7,550 miles
  • Engines:  4 each
  • Passenger decks: 2 each
  • Top Speed:  701 mph
  • Length:  231 feet
  • Capacity: More than 70 each
  • Decor:   Muted earth tones reminiscent of U.S. southwest, chosen by Nancy Reagan
  • Galleys:  2 each
  • Special Amenities: Treadmill, Operating room stocked with president’s own blood
  • Defense armament: Anti-missile system, Radar jamming, Hardened to withstand EMP from nuclear blast; Video teleconferencing studio capable of delivering presidential address to the nation while airborne
  • Aerial refueling? Yes
  • Formerly flew for Mexican discount airline? No
  • Famous pax:  Bill Clinton, Barack Obama
  • Cost for new replacement: $2.7 billion for two 747-8, slated for delivery ~2024