Behind the Scenes on Air Force One: Pictures Capture Unscripted Moments During South Africa Flight
Dec. 11, 2013 1:49pm Dave Urbanski
There’s no telling the entirety of what went happened aboard Air Force One during the lengthy trip from Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg for former South African leader Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, but one prominent passenger proved the interactions can’t be all about policy and politics.
Former President George W. Bush — invited by the Obama administration to make the trip via his old midair stomping grounds — made use of the large stretch of time to share some artwork:
Bush has taken up painting since leaving office, with his art teacher predicting that he’ll “go down in the history books as a great artist.”
Also aboard Air Force One were former first lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with current first lady Michelle Obama. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were also invited to make the trip, but the elder Bush declined because of his health while Clinton and Carter made their own travel arrangements, The Washington Post reported.
Capable of refueling midair, Air Force One has unlimited range and can carry the President wherever he needs to travel. The onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack on the United States. Inside, the President and his travel companions enjoy 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels
, including an extensive suite for the President that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room. Air Force One includes a medical suite that can function as an operating room, and a doctor is permanently on board. The plane’s two food preparation galleys can feed 100 people at a time.
Air Force One also has quarters for those who accompany the President, including senior advisors, Secret Service officers, traveling press, and other guests. Several cargo planes typically fly ahead of Air Force One to provide the President with services needed in remote locations.