Presidential Fleet



This display was built by member Ken Hodge to replicate the White House with Marine One.  Additional informational displays are associated with this display.



Who was the first President to use aircraft while in office?

A RD-2 “Dolphin” was acquired  in 1933 by the U.S. Navy to become the first plane in the Presidential Fleet during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term.  However, FDR never flew in the plane and it was replaced in 1939 with a Boeing 314 Clipper.  Both planes were amphibious.  FDR did use the 314 Dixie Clipper on his 1943 trip to the Casablanca Conference. 

In 1945, FDR flew in the Scared Cow, a C-54 Skymaster in his trip to the Yalta Conference.  Truman continued the use of the Scared Cow until replacing it with the Independence, a Douglas VC-118 Liftmaster in 1947.  

The  National Security Act of 1947, creating the US Air Force, was signed by Truman while aboard the Scared Cow.

RD-2 Dolphin
Boeing 314 Clipper
C-54 Sacred Cow
VC-118 Independence

Air Force One

How and when did the plane carrying the President of the United States of America get the call sign Air Force One?

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s  Lockheed Constellation entered the same air space as a commercial flight using the same flight number.  The call sign “Air Force One” is used for any plane carrying the President.  The call sign became official in 1962.  Eisenhower’s Presidential Fleet initially consisted of two Lockheed Constellations and two Aero Commanders, similar to Prairie Aviation Museum’s Aero Commander.

Near the end of Eisenhower’s term, the Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, informed Ike that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was using jet transportation and it was not dignified for the President of the United States to still be traveling in propeller driven planes.  Thus, several Boeing 707-VC137A’s were quickly procured and became part of the Presidential fleet.  This  also began the aircraft designation of SAM (Special Air Missions).  The 707’s were known as SAM 970, 971 and 972.

President John F. Kennedy inherited the VC137A’s from Eisenhower.  However, in 1972, two specially designed VC137Cs, SAM 26000 and SAM 27000, became the primary planes in the Presidential Fleet.  In the following pictures, you will note that Kennedy incorporated the blue livery (color and lettering scheme) to replace Eisenhower’s.  The Kennedy livery is still in use today. 

However, President Donald J. Trump proposed a new livery for the new Air Force One that is currently under construction.  If the new Air Force One (VC25B) is completed by 2024, President Joe Biden will make the final livery determination.  If delayed passed 2024, the next president will determine the livery.

In 1990, two heavily modified Boeing 727-200Bs (VC-25A) and designated as SAM 28000 and SAM 29000, became the primary Presidential planes.  The VC-25A has served President George W. Bush, Barak Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.  As mentioned above, the two VC-25As are planned to be replaced by two VC-25Bs in 2024.

Source for text and images.

Eisenhower's Aero Commander 1956 - 1960
Eisenhower's Lockheed Constellation 1953 - 1960
VC-137A SAM 790 Eisenhower - Kennedy
VC137C SAM 26000 Kennedy - GW Bush
VC137C SAM 27000 Kennedy - GW Bush
VC-25A SAM 28000 and 29000 GW Bush - Biden
VC-25B Prototype for 2024

Presidential Helicopters

In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to use a helicopter while in office.  The  Bell UH-13J Sioux  was used to transport Eisenhower to his Pennsylvania summer home.   In 1958, the  Sikorsky UH-34 Seahorse replaced the Bell UH-13.  The UH-34 was replaced by the Sikorsky VH-3 Sea King in 1961.

In 1976, the U.S. Marine Corps became the sole service responsible for flying the presidential helicopter.   Prior to that, the Marines shared the responsibility with the Army.  When the president was aboard, the helicopter had the call sign of Army One or Marine One.

In 1987, the VH-60N joined the presidential helicopter fleet.  By 2009, there were 11 VH-3Ds and eight VH-60Ns in service for the president and other prominent individuals.  

On 16 July 2009, Marine One flew with an all-female crew for the first time. This was also the final flight of Major Jennifer Grieves, who was the first woman pilot to fly the president.

There is currently proposals to replace the current fleet with a new model.  However, there have been many technical issues and budget overruns.   Hopefully, the new fleet will be commissioned in 2023.

When the president travels, either within country or overseas, at least one helicopter is transported on either a C-17 Globemaster or C-5 Galaxy.  In addition the president’s vehicle is also carried on the support plane.



UH-13J Sioux 
Sikorsky UH-34 Seahorse
Sikorsky VH-3 Sea King
Sikorsky VH-60N
Marine One Loading onto Support Plane
President's car loading onto Support Plane.
Lockheed-C-5-Galaxy Support Plane
C-17-Globemaseter-III Support Plane