NEW YORK (CNN) – Perhaps the most famous airplane on earth is being traded in for a new model.
Air force one will turn 30 in 2017, and that means the U.S. Government is shopping for a replacement right now.
Part white house, part war room, part political icon, the new air force one will fill many roles.
On the surface the requirements are simple: It must be a wide body, four-engine, commercial aircraft, but then things get complicated.
“I think the biggest misconception about air force one is the idea that it’s some sort of plush, comfortable, luxury jet that only is used for executive travel, when in fact it has a military mission. It is the flying headquarters for the Commander-in-Chief.”
Will it have an escape pod like in the movie “Air Force One”? No, that’s fiction, but it does have defensive capabilities: Shields against the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear attack, and anti-missile systems too.
The plane must be able to travel anywhere in the world, landing at big and small airports and of course, there are many secrets.
At the Reagan library, an earlier model, a modified Boeing 707 is a major draw.
“We all want to know what’s on this plane; it’s such a mystique. It is America, it’s our presidency, and I remember the first time i walked through it. You just get chills.”
Air force one has been in the middle of many extraordinary moments: When John Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson became the next president on board.
Ronald Reagan took it to meet the Russians and practiced his putting in flight, too.
George w. Bush used today’s version, a modified Boeing 747, to fly back to Washington on 9/11; unable to do a TV address to the nation until he landed. That was later fixed, and the new jet, is expected to have full “in flight” broadcast capabilities, along with sleeping quarters, a shower, an airborne oval office, and an emergency room.
“Trust me when I tell you that the pentagon’s current military acquisition system can’t achieve anything in that short period of time.” So like the rest of us sometimes, even the president, may have to wait for his plane.