AIR FORCE ONE AND SPECIAL SUPPORT AIRCRAFT
The Air Force One program started in 1943 when military officials became concerned about relying on commercial airlines to transport the president. A variety of aircraft were used initially, all operated by the US Air Force, including the C-87A, VC-54C, VC-121A, and C-118 (Harry Truman’s Independence shown below).
In 1958 Boeing 707’s were purchased and designated VC-137s with call signs Special Air Mission (SAM) 26000 and 27000. The current Air Force One aircraft are Boeing 747-200Bs designated VC-25 with call signs SAM 28000 and SAM 29000. Both aircraft are operated by the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base. The wing also operates a variety of smaller diplomatic aircraft including the C-20, C-32A, C-37, and C-40B. All of these aircraft are regular visitors to Majors Field and are modified / upgraded by L-3 Communications.
It is no secret when the diplomatic aircraft are on the field. The Air Force One VC-25 aircraft fly directly over Interstate 30 and Highway 69 in broad daylight, larger than an apartment building. The C-32A and C-40 are regularly parked at the back gate next to the county road. The VC-25s are parked on the southwest side of the field next to the public access road. These are all beautiful aircraft and attract the attention of aviation enthusiasts and many others that love to take photographs. However, some spectators may have other plans that concern us.
L-3 Communications is responsible for security of all customer aircraft on the field. L-3 is well aware of the large Muslim population in Dallas and local universities. A Muslim extremist terror attack recently occurred in Garland at the Curtis Culwell Center 40 miles from Majors Field. So why would the senior management of a multi-billion dollar defense contractor choose to park the most prestigious, expensive aircraft in the world in plain view next to a public road for over a week? Complacency kills, both in skydiving and military security. The two Air Force One aircraft must be high priority targets on the ISIS list, and it would take little effort to destroy the aircraft as long as L-3 parks them in the open on a public airport, especially when fueled. Any terrorist, foreign or domestic, can purchase a small aircraft without a background check. It takes little skill to fly a small aircraft into a fixed target on the ground. Any terrorist with a rifle can fire on an aircraft in plain view from 200 yards away and cause massive damage or total loss within seconds, especially when the security detail is on the other side of a fence.
The commander of the 89th should review the security safeguards for his aircraft while undergoing upgrades at L-3’s Greenville facility and consider having the work performed at a secure military base instead of a public airport. If contract work continues we have the following observations / suggestions to minimize risk:
Fly the aircraft in at night and hangar it immediately after arrival. Use a generic radio call sign so everyone listening to tower frequency won’t know Air Force One aircraft are back in town.
Don’t ever park the aircraft outside in plain public view next to Majors road or the back gate. Anyone 200 yards away with a rifle can cause tremendous damage or total loss in a few seconds, especially when fuel is on board.
When the aircraft must be parked outside for tests, put them on the north end away from the general public and out of view from the public roads. Cover up sensitive areas like the tail warning system and flare launchers otherwise aviation buffs in civilian aircraft on the taxiway will take pictures and post them on the internet.
Flight test the aircraft away from Majors Field at night using a generic call sign.
AIR FORCE ONE PHOTO GALLERY
The links below contain a wealth of information about the Air Force One program and the smaller diplomatic aircraft serviced by L-3 Communications at Majors Field:
Air Force One References:
89th Airlift Wing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/89th_Airlift_Wing
C-20 Aircraft: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulfstream_IV
C-21 Aircraft: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learjet_35
C-32 Aircraft: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_C-32
C-37 Aircraft: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulfstream_V
C-40 Aircraft: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_C-40_Clipper
NOTE THE ABOVE SIGN HAS NO LEGAL APPLICATION ON A PUBLIC AIRPORT AND IS A DELIBERATE LIE PROMOTED BY THE CITY OF GREENVILLE AND L-3 TO DISCOURAGE GENERAL AVIATION EXPANSION AT THE FACILITY.