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Unlike any previous president-elect, Donald Trump already has his own aerial fleet (a Boeing 757-200 airliner, a Cessna Citation X business jet and two Sikorsky S-76Bs), on which he has hosted pals Stephen Baldwin, Dennis Rodman and Gary Busey.
But he’ll be required as president to fly on one of two 747-200Bs at his disposal (Air Force One is a designation afforded to whatever aircraft the commander in chief is aboard); both are equipped with a top-secret encrypted communications system, including teleconferencing that can deliver a televised address from 40,000 feet. Air Force One also has an anti-missile defense system and radar-jamming capabilities. “A lot of this stuff is classified,” says Air Force One historian Von Hardesty.
The presidential planes outclass Trump’s. Each can carry more than 70 people and fly up to 7,550 miles at a top speed of 701 mph. Trump’s twin-engine 757 can carry 43 people 4,400 miles at up to 609 mph. Stylewise, Air Force One is more subdued: Interior decoration for the planes, which entered service in 1990 and 1991, was directed by Nancy Reagan, who favored Southwest-style earth tones. There is little glitz; amenities include a presidential suite with a treadmill and an operating room stocked with the president’s blood.
Trump, who bought his 757 from Paul Allen in 2010 (Ron Burkle also has a 757, which the Clintons have used), refurbished it to include 24-karat gold-plated seat belts and bathroom fittings, as well as cream-colored leather seats. The 57-inch high-definition TV screen is matched with “digital surround sound exactly like in a movie theater — it’s better than the one on Air Force One, no question,” says Gregg Launer, the technician who installed the system. The plane also has a full galley, though Trump often dines on KFC or Burger King in flight.
Last year, the Air Force placed an order for two new Boeing 747-800 jets slated to become operational in 2024. If Trump scores a second term, he and Melania could be in charge of their fittings, and his big-league flair could grace the world’s airways for decades.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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