This morning saw the arrival of United States President Donald Trump and Air Force One at London Stansted Airport. “Air Force One” is one of two customised, high-tech Boeing VC-25A aircraft. Accompanied by his wife, the President will take a helicopter to Buckingham Palace in London for meetings with the Queen and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Onwards to Buckingham Palace
The US president and First Lady Melania Trump are in the UK as guests of the Queen. The two will attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and then attend a commemoration marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Official talks will also take place with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street.
According to Cambridge News, it is thought this state visit will cost over £18m. This is because a significant police and security operation will be in place due to the various protests planned across the country.
— Nicola Gwyer (@nicolagwyer) June 3, 2019
This isn’t the first time the U.S. President has arrived at Stansted Airport, located 36 miles from central London. Past presidents have also chosen to arrive at Stansted rather than Heathrow or Gatwick airports. For example, Barack Obama landed in Stansted for all three of his state visits to the UK.
Express News suspects that the choice of airport is a result of a visit by then-President George W Bush that took place in 2008. Landing at Heathrow, President Bush’s arrival resulted in severe disruptions to commercial services as his airborne entourage included a 747, a 757 and four helicopters as well as the VC-25, Air Force One.
In a 2008 Telegraph article, BA Executive Willie Walsh is reported to have made the following remarks:
“The disruption we experienced over four days during the last week was something out of the ordinary – and also completely unnecessary…The decision to allow President Bush and his fleet of aircraft to fly into Heathrow rather than a military base was one all of Heathrow’s users could have done without.”
Walsh estimated that 38,000 British Airways passengers were affected as a result of the Heathrow arrival.
Along the Stansted flightpath…
The local populace has caught on to the fact that Stansted is now the go-to airport for state visits. In a field close to the airport, and along the flight path and approach to Stansted, a “drawing” of a penis with the words “oi Trump” can be seen from above. The work was done by a “Trump-hating-art-student” using a lawnmower on grass.
“Donald Trump and his denial of climate change are not welcome…I want him to be fully aware of that when he flies in to Stansted tomorrow.”
Trump faces giant penis mown into field near airport where he lands for UK state visit https://t.co/YXIxHwkcsP
— The Independent (@Independent) June 3, 2019
About the aircraft
As stated above, the aircraft known as Air Force One is officially a VC-25 but is a modified Boeing 747-200. There are two of these aircraft, which have tail numbers 28000 and 29000. Any Air Force aircraft that the US President is aboard takes on the radio call sign “Air Force One”.
According to Military.com, key differences between the VC-25 and a standard Boeing 747 include:
- Fewer number of passengers carried
- State of the art navigation
- Electronic and communications equipment
- Interior configuration and furnishings
- A self-contained baggage loader
- Front and aft air-stairs
- And the capability for in-flight refueling.
The website goes on to describe the extensive configurations to accommodate the President and entourage:
“Accommodations for the president include an executive suite consisting of a stateroom (with dressing room, lavatory and shower) and the president’s office. A conference/dining room is also available for the president, his family and staff. Other separate accommodations are provided for guests, senior staff, Secret Service and security personnel, and the news media.”
Five years from replacement
Popular Science is reporting that the update to Air Force One – or VC-25 – is due to arrive in 2024. These new aircraft will be designated VC-25B. Any new upgrades and updates are, of course, highly secretive for security reasons.The update to Air Force One will arrive in 2024. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The aircraft themselves took the spotlight when Trump famously sent out a tweet regarding their high price tag:
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016