Air Force One’s Patriotic New Livery

Filed Under: Misc.

At the moment there are two 747-200s that serve as Air Force One — they were delivered in 1987, so they’re over 30 years old. Whichever plane the president is flying on serves as Air Force One, so I guess you can say there are two Air Force Ones (though only one gets that designation at a time).

Over the past few years the US has been negotiating with Boeing over replacements for Air Force One. Last year the US formally ordered two 747-8s to replace the current 747-200s, which are expected to be delivered in 2024.

The deal is worth $3.9 billion, which is under the $4 billion price tag Trump was hoping for. At the time a White House spokesperson said that Trump saved taxpayers $1.4 billion thanks to his great negotiations (Politifact has a different take on this, suggesting it ended up costing more than Air Force budgetary documents said it should have).

For several months Trump has been talking about how he wants Air Force One to have a patriotic new livery, though up until now that livery hasn’t been revealed. Well, now we know what it will look like.

In an interview with ABC, Trump has revealed the patriotic new livery that’s expected to be painted on the two 747-8s. Here’s a close-in of it (as you can see, there are a few minor variations):

And here’s the interview:

Trump emphasizes that he’s doing this for other presidents and not himself (which is fair enough, because even if he got re-elected, it’s unlikely the plane would be in service during his presidency). He also emphasizes how he got $1.6 billion off the price (that’s an extra $200 million compared to the savings that the White House previously said there were).

For context, here’s what the current Air Force One looks like:

Taking politics and other considerations out of the equation, I like the new livery. I suppose a government plane is different than an airline in terms of branding, though the red, white, and blue seems to make more sense than the blue on the old Air Force One.

I do have to say, this does remind me a bit of one of British Airways’ retro liveries:

There’s an interesting story regarding why Air Force One is painted the way it currently is. The current Air Force One livery has been around since 1962. Apparently the plane was supposed to have the typical Air Force livery, but French industrial designer Raymond Loewy called the design “gaudy” and “amateurish.”

Jackie Kennedy wanted a plane that best represented the US abroad, so Loewy worked on a new design. The reason for the current blue is allegedly because of Kennedy’s affinity for blue, rather than any other significant reason.

Congress is trying to block Trump’s plan, demanding veto power for any changes made to the blue and white paint scheme that has long been used for the planes.

So personally I’m in favor of a patriotic red, white, and blue livery, as that seems like a more logical way to go about color choices rather than having the livery be based on a former president’s favorite color.

What do you make of the proposed new patriotic livery for Air Force One?

  1. It looks great. Close enough to the original, bit more patriotic, still a classic look. Makes logical sense.

    I’m sure they’ll waste a few million taxpayer dollars fighting about it though.

  2. To me, it looks like the old BA livery and an inverted version of the livery on Trump’s 757. That second one can’t be a concidence…

  3. The colors are close to and / if not the same as his own “Trump Plane” – just flipped. Come on people – look at what he is doing!

  4. “Congress is trying to block Trump’s plan, demanding veto power for any changes made to the blue and white paint scheme that has long been used for the planes.”

    So Congress is more concerned about the color of a plane most members will never fly on than massive budget deficits, a broken immigration system that hasn’t been addressed since President Reagan, health care that cost 200% what every other developed nation on earth spends and infrastructure that results in gridlock traffic jams and horrendous air travel delays ?

    Sounds about right for our DO NOTHING CONGRESS

  5. I have to agree the current design is more elegant in my book as well. Now I may be biased as I flew on the 707/C-137 based planes more decades ago than I’d like to admit with the same livery.

  6. The proposed one is awful – looks like a campaign plane. Just leave the original one alone.

  7. I approve of anything that President Trump approves. He’s about as smart as they get.



  8. I prefer the old one. 1) It’s classic and stood the test of time over decades 2) The light blue reflects the Air Force 3) I like how the blue on the old design feels like it has motion and dynamism by swooshing across the fuselage from the nose and to the tail. The new design has none of that energy with the tail livery in particular looking stagnant and stale. 4) The old design is reflective of the time it was created and has a mid-century vibe to it. But as this was the point of the pinnacle of US power, is that such a bad thing for a symbol of the U.S. presidency?

  9. Just to clarify, Trump does nothing for anyone, only himself:

    “doing this for other presidents and not himself”

    Also, by 2024, it will be nowhere near a $3.9 billion price tag.

  10. Weren’t the colours in the current livery chosen to enable the aircraft to blend into the sky and make it difficult to be observed visually when flying?

  11. That’s the same guy who as a businessman reportedly spent many of his working hours selecting drapery swatches, so likely he’s the most qualified ever for choosing a patriotic paint job

  12. So the choice is between something designed by Jackie Kennedy with one of the most prominent industrial designers of the 20th century, and Donald Trump?

  13. I was expecting a much worse design. Something like a giant flag wrapped all over the plane with pictures of everything that appeals to his base. So you know what, this design is tolerable. Congress shouldn’t waste time fighting urban.

  14. I prefer the old livery by far, if only for the ‘majesty’ of its history.

    As others have noted, the artist who was tasked with coming up with a new livery for AF1 that would appeal to Trump, knowing what egomaniacs crave, simply inverted the colors of Trump’s own plane… ;-(

  15. Lucky, there is only ONE Air Force One: It’s not a 747, but Whatever the President is Flying on at any time. (Same goes with “Marine One” helicopters).

    True, the President usually is on one of two 747-200 “Improved” (in many ways) but whenever he is on a 757, as happens a lot if only because he does political meetings in places where the 747 cannot land, that 757 is “Air Force One”. Whenever the same 757s are used to transport Cabinet Secretaries, they are “Only” US Air Force 757s. And if Trump decided to go 6-seat Cessna seaplaning over the Everglades (probably not…) the Cessna would become “Air Force One”.

  16. more like they shot themselves in the foot once again for pre-mentioning their target of $4B when they have no idea how much less it might actually cost, and became super easy for Boeing to give them a tiny win of $3.9B while laughing all the way….

    to the 737max legal defense reserve fund.

  17. Seriously why would you post something that’s going to end up political. Just delete this post.

  18. I say combine the 2. Nothing wrong with the red white and blue, but leave the lines alone. change the gold and baby blue and keep the blue up top. IMO its less about the colors and more about the lines that make it the most recognizable aircraft in the world.

  19. @ All “Chasers of Egomaniacs”:

    Trump’s 757 has tons of Black and Gold as outside painting. I do not see any of that on the proposed new livery (ugly, by the way…), but please stop acting as the New York Times which, if DT started walking on water, would most likely have a big title “Trump Can’t Swim”.

  20. So he saved month because he chose a lower trim (less comm, seat capacity etc) and not because of negotiation. Although, who really cares.

  21. The old design was a classic, a sweeping, timeless, beautiful piece of jet-age design by Raymond Loewy the greatest brand-designer in history. It’s unique and had become synonymous worldwide with American presidential power. The very fact it doesn’t have all the colours of our flag on it is a statement of confidence – we did not need to have a red-white-blue wrapped plane we could afford to do something more inspirational.

    The new design is frankly, boring. Just uninspiring all around. Who cares if it matched the colours of the flag? I also don’t care that it’s Trump himself proposing it. It’s not ugly it’s just average. A statement that America has long since passed its jet-age and space-age dreamer phase and is now so insecure it needs to paint red white and blue all over everything.

    Why mess with a design classic??

  22. @Jackie Air Force One won’t switch to a 787 or A350 because even though it costs more to operate the likelihood of a crash should an engine fail is much less on a 4 engine 747 than a 2 engine plane.

    At that level it’s all about safety/security than cost which it should be imo

  23. Isn’t the current color scheme meant for camouflage security purposes? Kind of like a shark?

  24. @ Sam and Jackie:

    The A 350 would anyway be out of the question as parts and software cannot be dependent on the good will of a foreign country. For the same reason, Vladimir Putin and the Russian Government use a fleet of Ilyushins 96s which, although visually almost matching modern planes, are dinosaurs.

    Putin’s Ilyushin 96 has the technology of DC 10s and Airbus A300s (not 330, even less 350). I flew a weird Moscow-New York trip on Aeroflot in 1991. It was the IL.86, the 96’s earlier version, and the itinerary was Moscow-Shannon-Gander-JFK for lack of range. The JFK approach was flown “dancing around” to the left and the right simply because the IL 86 could not maintain the JFK approach standard speed.

  25. The 4 engine requirement will get interesting with the next version of Air Force One ~30 years from now.

    The current paint job is an incredible brand no matter what you think of it. Any livery on a plane carrying the President of the US would quickly build that brand back. While it would be a shame to lose old brand I’ve long disliked the livery chosen for govt planes. Personally I’d vote for the deep gray Air Force, black lettering, and bold US Flags on the tail and near the nose. Now that would be something to see!

  26. The 4-engine requirement seems odd when so many heads of state/government are perfectly happy flying in two-engine planes and have done so securely for decades. The Japanese government recently replaced their 747-400’s with a 777 for their VIP aircraft.

  27. Might as well be emblazoned with images of Big Macs, fries and donuts, KFC, bottles of coke, reflecting the personal taste of the incumbent as well as promoting US products. The plane has lost its cachet, earned as a measure of respect for the office, due to the vulgar and repulsive demeanour of the bloated horror. I’d go with the Jackie Kennedy idea.

  28. Is that supposed to be a dark blue underbelly, or dark gray/charcoal? Struggling to see ‘blue’ in that new livery, so it’s more like red, white and charcoal.

  29. Uh…this is pretty much identical to liveries Japan and the UAE use for their governments’ 747s, except the Japanese and UAE flags swapped out for the Star-Spangled Banner. The current livery may not match the flag, but aesthetically it’s much better than this one, and at this point the design is basically synonymous with the Presidency.

    @Pierre sorry to say this but you’re wrong – The Il-86 has terrible range and did in fact use DC-10 era technology despite being fifteen years newer, however the Il-96 does in fact have enough range to do Moscow-New York non-stop, and the technology it uses is equivalent to the A330. It looks almost the same as the -86 but inside it’s all much newer. I’ve flown on both.

  30. Politics aside, it doesn’t look bad; however, the current blue on the plane makes it instantaneously identifiable and not possible to be mistaken for a commercial 747. The current look is iconic, and this is the mountain I will die for.

  31. Great new paint — I personally cannot vote in the US, but cannot believe the hatred towards the US president — Objectively speaking.

    Hopefully the economy is doing great or I don’t know what would have happened to him.

    I mean no matter what he does, it would turn into a very aggressive public stoning. He could personally find a cure for cancer and comments would probably be the same.

    Not taking sides but it is so obvious from an outside eye.

  32. rjb express concern about Congress more “concerned about the color of a plane most members will never fly on than massive budget deficits,……….”

    But rjb shows no concern about a president who spends his time redesigning the livery of a plane, planning the minutia of a 4th of July ceremony no one wants, making sure John McCain’s name is obscured, and of course spending hours of executive time tweeting incessantly rather than protecting the integrity of our elections, standing up to foreign dictators. …….

    Pleeeeease spare us.

  33. The current design is elegant but has reminders of a by-gone era. The swoop at the nose and on the tail went out of style a long time ago.

    The proposed designs first reminded me a little of US Airways. The drawings are not always representative of how good or bad a design really turns out to be. The biggest question would be the shade of blue on the bottom. Will it be almost black or will it be navy blue? Should the flag be slanted like Pan Am did? I think so.

  34. If you ask me, proposed livery is quite nice. But I think 747 is outdated. Best solution for AirForceOne would be A380. This would be statement when president would arrive to visit another country.

    But I know it will never be used as presidential plane, as it is not American.

  35. Kinda funny if President Trump offered a similar Trump jet paint job.
    I’m a traditionalist who is highly resistance to change. The existing paint job has a certain elegance about it.
    Especially the curve lines of the robin egg shell blue with the white over the top of the fuselage.

  36. It appears that the other aircraft in the 89th Airlift wing like the C-32 (aka Air Force 2, a 757 version) have the same basic color scheme as the VC-25 (AF1). Will they all be changed as well?

  37. @Justin – I believe the Air Force wants to maintain commonality between the executive transport and the airborne command post (currently the VC-25 and the E-4 respectively) as possible, and even with modern engine reliability, extended wartime survivability means four engines is still preferable.

    As for the livery, it’s…OK. More tasteful (or should I say less disgustingly garish?) than what I was expecting out of this administration. But the classic blue is just that, classic, it’s a livery known around the world. And blue is the colour most associated with the Air Force. Also, the executive transports are associated extensively with diplomatic missions, and blue is a more “peaceful” colour than red.

  38. I don’t hate it, but my Q: Do you repaint the other executive transport aircraft? The 757s, 737s, the Gulfstreams?

  39. The redesign is a remarkably boring. It’s not wildly ugly, but it looks like it was designed in the 1980s (unsurprising from a man who is obsessed with the tackiness of the 80s) and completely lacks any creative flourish.

    Wow, a dark color on the bottom, white on top, and a ramrod straight red cheatline. With a plain all-white tail and an American flag slapped on. It looks like someone in the Air Force spent about 20 minutes in InDesign on this thing. It’s basically an even-worse version of the last US Airways livery. It will be mostly indistinguishable from most other aircraft, especially when applied to the 757s and smaller Air Force VIP aircraft, which all share versions of the same livery.

    The old livery is exceptionally timeless – with dramatically swooping colors, elegant blue shades, understated gold, and the often-overlooked silver field just in front of the wings. It looks like no other aircraft on Earth. The design looks as fresh, youthful, optimistic and elegant today as it did in the 1960s.

    Of course, none of those traits describe the old, crass, tasteless, revolting man who occupies the presidency today, so it’s no surprise he wants to change it.

  40. @Pierre – That’s not correct. Only Air Force aircraft would be donned “Air Force One”. Same with Marine aircraft with “Marine One”. If President Trump flew a private/commercial aircraft, it would have the “Executive One” callsign.

  41. @DB – If you can’t understand why most Americans don’t like the current President, you really, *really* aren’t paying attention, and clearly haven’t been for the past several years.

  42. I good use of our presidents time, indeed. The more time he spends choosing paint schemes and picking interior finishes, the better!

  43. @DB

    America is going through a cold civil war. One side is in full control of the culture and the media.
    It’s apoplectic that it lost the White House. If you live abroad, you hear nothing but that side.

  44. I personally prefer the older color scheme however given the level of hate and abuse directed at Trump for actually wanting to end this ridiculous immigration system both legal and illegal I don’t mind.

    What is more of a concern than the color scheme is it will take 5 years to receive the planes. I understand there is testing and certification on many systems that has to be done but 5 years is ridiculous. They are not starting from scratch. Many of the planes in the military already have such missile defense and emp shielding systems. The 747-8 isn’t that big of a departure from the 747-400 that requires so much time like the 787 to perfect. This is why I never support infrastructure projects from the government. What could be done quickly and cost effectively takes 3x as long and 5x the cost. This and the DDG, F35 and KC767 are examples of this type of failure.

  45. Don’t know who that DB is but I am the real DB. It’s a FINE design IMO, 10x less crazy then what I would have expected from Trump. Can’t wait to see congress waste millions of dollars and hundreds of hours debating this instead of umm, doing some actual legislating.

  46. I think the new design looks fine. Not as elegant as the current livery, but not bad. I was thinking it would be terrible. I’m by no means a Trump supporter, but everything about this seems pretty normal (even his interview), so I don’t think we need to politicize everything. Let’s not forget Congress members get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to sit around and argue, so I guess they feel compelled to do so at everything.

    @Jackie (and others), one reason they might need a 4-engine aircraft is because it likely carries a fair amount of armor and other self-defense gadgets built into the fuselage and wings, which would make it pretty heavy. I believe the Presidential motor vehicle is the same (I think it weighs over 6 tons or something). Just a thought.

    @Pierre – Putin’s plane may be old, but have you seen inside it? I saw a show once where they did a tour and it looks very nice inside.

  47. Kerry,

    Thanks for the great post, echoing the historical reference. My sentiments exactly.

  48. Biokozy is right:
    Best solution for AirForceOne would be A380. This would be statement when president would arrive to visit another country.

    Big fat and ugly — describes the current president and part-time plane designer

    My apologies but I just can’t resist reacting to the comments.

    Now seriously to all those screaming about a do nothing congress — the Democratic House of Representatives have passed much legislation on a wide variety of topics, but the Republican controlled senate refuses to bring most of them up for a vote. Please focus you ire on the leadership in the senate

  49. Maybe I’m letting my political bias get in the way, but I prefer the Kennedy version, especially if it was Jackie’s idea!! I’d argue she wasn’t just your regular old first lady, but was an icon and the epitome of American taste! So if it were up to *me* I’d go with Jackie’s design over Trump :p Maybe I’ll write to my congressperson about it >.<

  50. Memorials for Raymond Loewy exist on almost any street in America whether it be an Exxon sign, a Studebaker Avanti, the Pennsylvania RR iconic S-Locomotive of the 1930’s and of course the current Air Force One.

    The original design was a gift to America by Loewy but that version was red and contrary to some beliefs, such was not necessarily JFK’s favorite color but his wife, Jackie suggested would be better in a subdued blue which of course prevails to the current day.

    Might I make a modest suggestion that the Administration consider using the original motif of the red version?

    Loewy’s designs are timeless so let’s keep it classy…

  51. I need to get into the aircraft rebranding business. I think it’s the easiest money to be made in the world. Slight changes or rip offs of other designs seem to be accepted 100% lol.

  52. I don’t see the problem with the current colors.

    I’m surprised he didn’t choose something in the line of Braniff 747’s…

  53. @Biokozy A “nice statement” that says that American planes aren’t good enough for the American president. Frankly this new livery looks gross and tacky to me. Believe me when I say this isn’t politically motivated. (I am pretty sure it was a Conservative First Lady who made the current scheme but I am not sure…) The American flag looked good on the old livery because it was an accent on a larger scheme. Making it feel like an official insignia. By itself and enlarged, it looks childish. To me it looks like someone had the impulsive need to throw red white and blue on the plane but didn’t care how it looked.

  54. I actually think the livery is really cool, just that the blue is too dark, makes it look a little out of fashion but maybe that’s just me. #MAGA. Sorry if that’s the best president we’ve ever had.

  55. The current livery is classic and is what has represented the United States of America abroad since the early 60’s. It is unique and in my opinion, what has worked, doesn’t need to be “rebranded”, just for the sake of it.

  56. Ben it was either naive or deliberately provocative of you to think you could post this and not trigger just the sort of political name-calling you’re trying to keep out of your comments. Instead we get posters making irrelevant and inflammatory comments about immigration policy, which has nothing to do with whether to preserve a classic paint job or introduce a new one that opponents can easily compare with Trump Air livery. So in the spirit of those who felt that they had to squeeze in a MAGA reference, I’d be just fine with the new AF 1 being an unmodified 737 Max – but hey it’s the color scheme that you asked us to comment on here so yes I think the classic look has history on its side but the BA Landor livery look has style. And #ITMFA

  57. To all saying that the AF should of gone with an Airbus product, that would never in a million years happen. Boeing being our largest manufacturer will keep making our heads of states aircraft for decades to come. Not only is it the right way to go having an American company make our executive aircraft, but the biggest thing is the security aspect of it. Airbus makes a great airplane, but I do not trust them with the security integrity for our heads of state.

    Personally in regards to the livery, I prefer the Kennedy era style. Its known look of American power and presence around the globe. It commands attention. The proposed option, doesnt give me that sense of awe, as the current livery does.

  58. I very much prefer the new proposed livery over the Kennedy-era livery. Other than powder blue being a favorite of Jackie or whatever, I never understood why it was chosen, as it has literally no connection to anything associated with the United States. When I look at the current Air Force One, I always think “Oh, the president’s plane. Why is it such a weird color?” The new design is sleek, and the red white and blue are immediately connectable to the United States. I support the new design, and I’m really surprised it’s so classic and elegant knowing that Trump was in charge of choosing it.

  59. It’s easy to see who the Left Wing Hate Generators are. They ‘hide’ in plain sight. Jess Fisher’s post on June 13, 2019 at 9:09 am is one of several examples.

    The plane is pretty. Contemptibly disgusting comments like Jess Fisher’s are ugly.
    Thank their lazy parents for not paying attention to the puke that their school system’s Socialist teachers were pumping into their heads during their formative years.

  60. A reply to the post by Matthew on June 24, 2019 at 8:11 pm ….

    The powder blue color would make the plane less noticeable from the ground… making it less likely to be a target for a shoulder fired weapon. Whether intentional or not, it’s a pretty good idea.

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