Air Force One returns Friday to Everett factory where it was built

Air Force One, the blue-and-white icon of U.S. super power, has been all-Boeing during the jet age.

Starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, a succession of special Boeing 707s served eight U.S. presidents. One of those airplanes today is parked at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

In 1990, with President George H.W. Bush in office, two Boeing 747-200Bs replaced the 707s. They were built in Everett and outfitted in Wichita, Kan.

Friday, one of them flies home to Paine Field, carrying President Barack Obama for an Everett factory visit and speech. Boeing Field in Seattle is the usual destination of U.S. presidents, so this will be the first time in 19 years that one of the planes has returned to the factory of its birth while carrying a president.

Air Force One is a flying White House, with 4,000 square feet of floor space for up to 102 people, secure communication systems and medical facilities. In a pinch, surgery can be performed. These 747-200Bs have a range of 7,800 statute miles, but just in case, they can be refueled during flight.

The 747 isn’t the only Boeing plane flying U.S. VIPs. Modified 757s serve cabinet members, the first lady, the vice president and, occasionally, the president.

And Boeing hopes to provide the next generation of Air Force One. The Air Force says new planes will be needed in the latter half of this decade. The aviation trade press has reported that the company would like to offer the new Boeing 747-8 or even the 787, the assembly line of which Obama will tour Friday.

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