It’s arguably the most iconic livery on the most iconic aircraft in service. It’s blue-and-white livery is instantly identifiable to both AvGeeks and those who view planes as simply flying buses.
Officially designated the VC-25 by the U.S. Air Force, two heavily-modified Boeing 747-200s have been in service since 1990.
By now, most AvGeeks know that any aircraft can be designated as Air Force One – the callsign is only active if the president is on board. Thus the modified 757s (officially C-32As) can also carry the callsign when the president is aboard.
The Seattle area sees C-32As fairly regularly, as high-ranking officials other than the president often visit the region, such as the vice president. The VC-25 hasn’t been in these parts since 2018, and we last wrote about a visit here in 2015, so we were due for an update.
Air Force One landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Being a photojournalist can meanÂ a lot of stressful work, but it definitely has its perks â€” and one of the best experiences for an AvGeek photojournalist is being approved for White House press credentials and covering a presidential visit. I’ve been lucky enough to do that three times, and it never, ever, gets old.
This story is not about politics; it’s about the plane, the process of transporting a head of state, and what it’s like to cover the amazing ritualÂ that is an Air Force One arrival/departure sequence.
Presidential travels are never a simple affair; watching the ballet of security andÂ military ritual, one can’t help but to be impressedÂ byÂ the sheer magnitude of managing the task.
Air Force One arriving at King County International Airport on October 9, 2015 -Photo: Francis Zera | Airline Reporter
There are few aircraft as readily identifiable as the 747-200B/VC-25 known as Air Force One (even though there are actually two of them; more on that in a bit). The aircraft is designed to ferryÂ the President of the United States, other elected and government officials, VIPs, and the White House press corps, anywhere in the world and in high style.
Any U.S. Air Force aircraft in which the president is flying carries the call sign Air Force One. But it’s the two VC-25s that are the flagship aircraft most of the world will immediately recognize as being the primary mode of transport for the current US president.
President Obama arriving in Seattle via Air Force One – Photo: Francis Zera | Airline Reporter
Suffice it to say that, wherever Air Force One shows up, interest (and security) are high. For the recent Seattle visit, on October 9th, local AvGeek interest was strong, and at least one of the sanctioned airport viewing areas was keptÂ open for public viewing.
Speaking of security, there are two identical VC-25s, one with tail number 28000 and the other 29000. Whenever the president is travelingÂ on one of them, the other is usually stationed somewhere in the region nearby as a backup. There are duplicate sets of presidential motorcade vehicles as well.
Below is a series of images from the president’s recent three-hour fundraising visit to Seattle.