While from a technical standpoint any jet carrying the President of the United States uses the call-sign “Air Force One”, people tend to think of the now-classic Boeing VC-25A jet.
Keeping current politics out of this post as much as possible, it’s objective and hopefully not a politically-volatile fact that the current fleet of Boeing VC-25A jets is due to be replaced in the middle of the next decade, prompting a very logical question: what’s going to happen to the existing ones?
The George & Barbara Bush Foundation have been planning ahead. Per the Houston Chronicle, the foundation has proposed to the secretary of the Air Force, who served in the Bush administration, one of the VC-25A jets be retired, on loan from the Air Force, to an exhibit to be built on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center on the campus of Texas A&M University. (renderings are available from the Chronicle article linked above)
The jet would need to be declassified after it’s retired, i.e. the Air Force would go through and remove all classified technology used in the aircraft in order to allow guests to walk through the aircraft.
George H.W. Bush personally lobbied for the arrangement before his death in 2018, suggesting that because he was the first president to fly in the jet in 1990 that it would make sense to have one retired at his library. His foundation has continued the charge in efforts to bring the plane to the library alongside the Union Pacific “4141” train engine which led President Bush’s funeral train to College Station, Texas last winter for his burial.
A final decision for the eventual resting place of the esteemed and iconic jets is still years away, but it’s always interesting to get a glimpse into the politicking around things like this. Just a little presidential aviation news for your Tuesday!
(Full disclosure: I graduated from Texas A&M University and met President Bush on campus a few times. Regardless of my personal opinions about his politics, admired how he would always stop to say hello to “his Aggies” on campus whenever he could)