In January 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to travel in an airplane while in office. Roosevelt flew aboard the Boeing 314 Dixie Clipper en route to the Casablanca Conference in Morocco. The three-leg trip aboard the Dixie Clipper covered 5,500 miles (8,851 km) and was preferable to sea travel at the time, given the far-reaching threat of German submarines. However, the first official presidential plane was a reconfigured Douglas C-54 Skymaster, nicknamed the Sacred Cow. The plane was fitted with an elevator to lift Roosevelt and his wheelchair into the aircraft.
More about early presidential planes:
- The Sacred Cow was used by President Roosevelt only once before his death -- a trip to the famous Yalta Conference in February 1945.
- President Harry Truman also used the Sacred Cow for official travel. He even signed the law that established the U.S. Air Force as a distinct military branch while on board in 1947. Truman also traveled in a customized Douglas DC-6 dubbed the Independence.
- In 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first U.S. president to use a jet aircraft, and in 1962, John F. Kennedy took the maiden flight in a Boeing 707 with Air Force One’s distinctive blue-and-white color scheme.