Current Air Force One landing

Air Force One lands at Joint Base Andrews – Photo: National Geographic/Renegade Pictures

Recently, I had the opportunity to have a sneak peek at the upcoming National Geographic documentary on the new Boeing 747-8i planes that are being heavily converted to take on the role of Air Force One. While the current planes, based upon the 747-200, are maintained impeccably, they’re getting long in the tooth at over 30 years old.

This behind-the-scenes look was pure AvGeek gold, but also appeals to all audiences. My nine-year-old daughter thought it was great (and told me to say so in this review)!

You have to love the extended upper deck of the 747-8 Intercontinental.

You have to love the extended upper deck of the 747-8 Intercontinental – the new AF1 will have a lot more floorspace to work with.

The documentary provides some of the history of the current VC-25A planes, while ushering you through the background on the development of the new VC-25B jumbos. The two 747-8s that are being converted were originally built for now-bankrupt Russian airline Transaero, but the carrier never took delivery.

As an added layer of aviation goodness, the executive producer of the documentary is an A350 pilot Scott Bateman, who also flew the 747. Many readers will be familiar with him, as he’s an active presence on Twitter as @scottiebateman.

A large portion of the show is filmed on board the current Air Force One while in flight. There are a handful of interview snippets with former president Trump where he boasts of all the secret military technology on the plane that he can’t tell us about. The other big chunk of the footage comes from Boeing’s facility in San Antonio, Texas, where the two 747-8s are being outfitted in a giant single hangar. The scope of the work taking place on this planes is overwhelming (and can explain why this is a $5B program).

Trump livery on Air Force One

VC-25B livery proposed under President Trump – Image: Boeing

The show also addresses one of the most controversial aspects of the new Air Force One – the livery! President Trump intended to paint the new planes in a new scheme, abandoning the familiar baby blue and white livery that is known around the world, and has adorned the president’s plane since the Kennedy era. However, right now, the planes are literally a blank canvas (they’re white tails) and the eventual decision will fall to the Biden administration.

This documentary is well worth an hour of your time. Heck, I watched it twice this week.

The New Air Force One: Flying Fortress debuts on Monday, February 15th at 10:00pm on National Geographic.

MANAGING EDITOR - DENVER, CO. Due to his family being split on opposite sides of the country, Blaine traveled frequently as a child, falling in love with the flying experience, and has continued to travel ever since. For AirlineReporter, Blaine edits all content before publishing, assists in story and concept development, and takes every chance he gets to produce original content for the site. When Blaine’s not busy planning his next travel adventure, he spends his time working as a college administrator. Email: [email protected].

I’m ready to fly
37 Comments

Personally, they should just keep the old livery.

Blaine Nickeson

George, I agree 100%. And I think they will.

I would maintain most of the current livery as it is and add just a few minor touches to renew that’s all; say for example, on the engines.

Leonard krivac

Please keep the livery the same.

Indeed, the original livery is classic, powerful and world renowned! ADD BACK THE AIR-TO-AIR REFUELING CAPABILITY! This plane should not have to depend on possibly having to land at an unfriendly airfield during a national emergency! Those planes can fly for days with refueling! Our commander-in-chief needs to know (s)he is flying on the most capable and survivable aircraft in the air!

Randall Abel

Definetly keep the present livery! I about s&$$ when I heard he wanted to change it to look like his. The Kennedy livery is classy and timeless.

gilberto roman

Trump’s colors are ugly and disgusting keep it original. Keep the livery the same.

You sound like Mexican. This is an airliner page not a political one. Bozo.

I like the new look! It’s our nation’s colors. Baby blue of the old does not match our red, white, and blue! Go with the colors of our flag!

America is the red white and blue.why do these assholes deny it

David B Paul

I’d do red white and blue but have a different design, not so much 60’s 70’s look. Make it more like the current design but R,W and B.

The new livery looks much much nicer. Far better represents our flag. The old one is dated, sad and ugly. The old one looks like we don’t have the money to do things right. Without question : keep the air to air refueling. This should not even be up for discussion. Air to air refueling is pivotal to the entire mission and purpose of AF-1.

The air to air refueling capability renders the plane to be several steps from others. It makes it unique. Why call it “Airforce One” if it lacks that capability. The livery on the current set of planes was a military decision. It blends the plane with the clouds and therefore difficult to see at a glance.

Chuck Smith

Exactly keep the same colors and maybe add a little touch of flair to it to update it.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not change the livery (color scheme) of the new aircraft.

Zulma Bayron

The new look is really elegant ; didn’t see the seal . Should have the seal !

Kim Taylor

The blue of the original livery is not even close to being correct. The US flag is not red, white, and baby blue. Trump’s color scheme was true to the US flag. If Obama had been the one who chose the darker blue over the baby blue, the left would have cheered his decision.

EDWARD FISCHER

If you leave it up to the Biden Administration for the Livery on Air Force One, you will be getting a , just saying

I love these comments. It pissed me off so much that Trump wanted to change the colors. I love the classic colors, the style. Keep it.

Enzo Talens

Why not paint matte gray the lower portion of the plane and chrome the top portion including the top half of the wings, with matte gray under the wings to match the lower portion? Then have the red, white, and blue stripe wrapping around the thing just below the first window line with the appropriate flag markings? Heck let’s change the name to Space Force One?

I had the privilege to walk through airforce one several years ago. This is an outstanding plane. I can’t imagine how nice the new one is. Would love to walk through it to. Hope we come up with a beautiful exterior design.

Greg proper

Think it should be painted red,white and blue with stars on it. Besides we are paying for it.it shouldn’t be up to the president he just rides in it. God bless america!!!!!

Jorge A Armely

The new paint design looks like British Airline colors, keep the present color.

Scott Luther

I saw this last night and do like the new proposed colors! I am tired of the “baby blue” and think it needs to be upgraded to regular blue!

Plane Crazy Joe

The red cheatline of the proposed new livery reminds me of that which adorns – to this day, at the BFI museum – the first 747-100 prototype. This new livery WOULD’T be the first time there’d be a change…

I hope Nat Geo will re-airs the new documentary soon! I missed it BOTH times last night; as I didn’t read this report until today.

the current paint scheme is dated and was designed by Mrs Kennedy…all you TRUMP haters here of course will say it’s disgusting….I say it’s refreshing and I CAN GUARANTEE you Trump just didn’t make it up.. but was a process of many experts in jet livery design pitching in and coming to the finished product. just like pro Bideners want to tear down the wall they also hate anything trump ever did

We missed it last night 2/15.
Will it be airing again soon?
Bonnie
[email protected]

Plane Crazy Joe

If you do a Search for “The New Air Force One” you’ll find a few reports about it – INCLUDING photos. These illustrate the new Air Force One will have the same livery…

For security reasons it pays to change the look of AF1 every once in a while…

Keep it the same color do not change it. I love the original cost.

b kooistra

It should be painted like the pants Rex Kwan Do wore in Napoleon Dynamite. THAT is real patriotism!

Robert Enninga

Keep the traditional livery. It is as beautiful and distinctive today as when it was first introduced in the early 1960s. Tradition and image are important. Everyone in the world knows Air Force One at a glance.

Rob Gutierrez

This old livery should be changed for a red, white and blue modern color scheme.
The actual is way obsolete.

Barbara

I would like to say: the best and great airline from my point of view is AIR FRANCE. Very nice, professional and fast in response. Just grat!!!

Air France Costomer Support – thank you so much!

Iain Wylie

From Northern Ireland, keep the old livery with perhaps a few little touches for this age, but Air Force 1 is a most important part of the USA, should be left alone and all in your country should be extremely proud to see such an aircraft. another one of that idiot trumps’s mad ideas.

Well said!!

I guess it would be a better idea if Trump was a democrat.

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