Air Force One Special Features

Because Air Force One carries the president, and because some trips can be quite long, the plane has a number of special features, many of which are found on no commercial airliner.

The crew prepares meals in two fully-equipped galleys. They store a large amount of food in freezers in the lower sections of the plane. The crew is equipped to feed about 100 people at a time, and the storage area holds as many as 2,000 meals.

The plane has a lot of technology in its onboard medical facility. The medical room has an extensive pharmacy, loads of emergency room equipment and even a fold-out operating table. The plane also has a staff doctor, who travels with the president wherever he goes. On every mission, the plane is prepared for a wide range of potential emergencies.

Unlike a normal 747, the plane has its own retractable stairways, for the rear entrance and the front entrance. These stairways open onto the lower deck, and crew members and staff climb internal staircases to get to the upper decks. The plane also has its own baggage-loader. With these additions, the plane never has to depend on an airport's facilities, which could be a security risk.

The most remarkable feature on the plane is it's extensive electronics. It has 85 onboard telephones, a collection of two-way radios, fax machines and computer connections. It also has 19 televisions and assorted office equipment. The phone system is set up for normal air to ground connections and secure lines. The president and his staff can reach just about anybody in the world while cruising tens of thousands of feet in the air.

The onboard electronics include about 238 miles of wiring (twice the amount you'd find in a normal 747). Heavy shielding is tough enough to protect the wiring and crucial electronics from the electromagnetic pulse associated with a nuclear blast.

Another special addition is the in-flight refueling connection. As with the B-2 and other combat craft, in-flight refueling gives Air Force One the ability to stay up in the air indefinitely, which could be crucial in an emergency situation.

Some of the most interesting parts of the plane -- it's advanced avionics and defenses -- are classified. But the Air Force asserts the two planes are definitely military aircraft, designed to withstand an air attack. Among other things, the plane is outfitted with electronic counter measures (ECM) to jam enemy radar. The plane can also eject flares to throw heat-seeking missiles off course.