Or one of the two coolest, anyway.
It’s not a cargo plane but you don’t get to see AF1 every day unless you’re in the most exclusive executive entourage in the world.
Yesterday Boeing field was graced by its most famous alumnus, Air Force One – VC-25 29000 – with President Obama on board. Although the VC-25’s (there are two, the other is 28000) were delivered in 1990, by which time the 744 was in production, they’re actually based on the 747-200 – albeit with considerable modification.
The plane has a published 833,000 lb MTOW and a 6,800 nm range, though it has aerial refueling capability, so range is not usually an issue. The planes are also set up with many strategic countermeasures, such as resistance to electromagnetic pulses, radar jamming, anti-missile systems, and many other things that nobody outside the Secret Service knows about.
The VC-25’s replaced VC-137’s, which were executive/USAF versions of the 707, one of which is on display about 300 yards from where this photo was taken. The last VC-137 was retired in 2001 but hadn’t acted as AF1 in quite some time.
The VC-25’s are expected to be replaced some time in the next ten years, presumably with airframes based on the 747-8i.
Photographer: Alex Kwanten. Click on the Photo to see it at full size.
The actual code for the VC-25’s is 747-24DG, or 24DG-VC25, which makes them 200’s. The design started out with the -200B as the template, like the Boeing E-4 “Advanced Airborne Command Post” before them. 747-300’s aren’t very different from the -200 but they have the stretched upper deck, which had been a retrofit option on the -200 (and in one special case, for JAL, the -100). I’m not sure but it’s possible that if there were any aerodynamic upgrades to the 300 that didn’t concern the s-u-d, that they fitted them to the VC25s as well.
The VC25’s are certainly planes of the -300 era though, even arguably the -400 era, since some -400s were completed before these were actually finally delivered. The VC25s were ordered by Reagan, but not delivered until Bush 41 was well into his Presidency.