cover image AIR FORCE ONE: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes

AIR FORCE ONE: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes

Kenneth T. Walsh, . . Hyperion, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-4013-0004-3

This peek inside the "flying Oval Office" comes courtesy of U.S. News and World Report's award-winning White House correspondent, who has logged more than 200 trips aboard Air Force One. To document the history and evolution of the "flying White House," Walsh (Feeding the Beast: The White House Versus the Press) interviewed more than 120 people, including the plane's crews and staff, plus past presidents and White House officials. Americans once thought presidents should "never stray from the United States," but FDR "changed the whole dynamic," becoming the first airborne chief executive when he flew to a secret 1943 meeting with Churchill in Casablanca. Truman, who used "the plane itself as a power tool," was the first to fly routinely, and Eisenhower was the first to travel by jet. The code name Air Force One was introduced in Ike's era after air traffic controllers confused Eastern 610 with the president's Air Force 610. JFK made the code name public, and his sleek new 707 "seemed to embody modernity itself" after Jackie Kennedy and industrial designer Raymond Loewy devised the now-familiar blue-and-white exterior. Focusing on the mystique and prestige of Air Force One and its ascendancy as a symbol of world power, Walsh describes key decisions made in the air, leaving a contrail of anecdotes about presidential behavior aloft, and concludes by detailing the dramatic events aboard the presidential jet on September 11 when the controversial decision was made not to return to Washington. 8 pages of color, 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Jillian Manus. (May)