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Weird History

All The Weirdest Features Of Air Force One

As a frequent flyer, the president of the United States deserves relief from typical travel nuisances like baggage fees and shoe removal in security lines. Access to the Air Force One plane, however, is the ultimate travel perk, based on facts we know about this flying fortress of freedom. The president's life is far from normal, from ordering at a restaurant to remaining under the watchful eye of the Secret Service, but the way the commander-in-chief travels is especially removed from the rest of the public's experiences.

Air Force One, which is the name given to any aircraft the president flies on, received its official call sign after a near-collision with a commercial airliner in December 1953. Over the years, the US government has steadily added more and more features to Air Force One's interior, outfitting it with everything from a specially designed staircase to an in-flight medic. To say this plane is loaded is an understatement.

Air Force One's amenities are luxurious - and in some ways downright weird, although safety is usually the reason behind the strange features.

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  • It Can Withstand A Nuclear Blast

    Air Force One is a flying nuclear shelter. The plane has such heavily reinforced armor that it's actually capable of withstanding a nuclear blast

    Plus, the windows are bulletproof, and its defense systems can jam enemy radar and deflect missiles and electromagnetic pulses. 

  • It Has A Specially Designed Retractable Staircase And Baggage Loader
    Photo: Pete Souza / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    It Has A Specially Designed Retractable Staircase And Baggage Loader

    To mitigate any security risks with airport staircases, Air Force One is equipped with uniquely retractable stairs that extend outward from the body of the plane.

    For the same reasons, the plane is also equipped with its own baggage loader that allows staff to closely monitor what goes in and out of the cargo hold. 

  • A Pharmacy And Operating Table Are On Board

    Air Force One is equipped with far more than a first-aid kit. The plane has a medical annex that includes a pharmacy and operating table with surgical lights, along with equipment like a defibrillator, IV pumps, and suction devices.

    A nurse is also aboard to handle any potential health emergencies.

  • It Can Be Refueled While In The Air
    Photo: US Air Force / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    It Can Be Refueled While In The Air

    Running out of gas isn't a concern on Air Force One. As with military combat aircraft, the president's ride in the sky can keep going in the event of an emergency or if unsafe conditions exist on the ground.

    To make this work, a fuel plane arrives in the proximity of Air Force One, matches its speed, then connects to provide enough fuel to top off its tanks.