Air Force One Is Getting a Makeover: Go Inside the Manufacturing Process of the New Presidential JetsDecember 17, 2020
Very few people whose title doesn't start with "president" ever set foot inside Air Force One.
But National Geographic got a first look at the overhaul of the two presidential planes, which Donald Trump has been working on during his presidency and President-elect Joe Biden may finish during his own.
The one-hour The New Air Force One: Flying Fortress premieres Jan. 18 and is exclusively previewed above.
The inside look at the two new Air Force One planes “follows the classified mission to create the new presidential aircraft and provides an inside look at the cutting-edge engineering and technology that transforms the plane into a top-secret, highly secured command center,” according to the network.
The new Air Force Ones (a designation referring to either of two Boeing 747s while the commander-in-chief is on board) are expected to take flight in 2024, replacing the previous aircrafts that have been in use since George H. W. Bush.
Trump, 74, was interviewed for the special while aboard Air Force One.
The plane “serves as a command center because we have so military equipment and other things on — equipment that I don’t even talk about,” he said. “The new Air Force One has absolutely finer systems, state of the art.”
The president also explained how he planned to give the aircraft a new color scheme — a change from the classic Jacqueline Kennedy-approved blue nose being used now. Instead, the new plane would be painted with a white top and blue belly separated by a thin red stripe: red, white and blue.
(The political news website Axios recently reported, however, that Trump's election defeat means Biden, 78, will get the last word on the aircraft’s final design because he will be in office at the time.)
“It was clear that the Air Force One project was something President Trump was very passionate about,” National Geographic executive producer Bengt Anderson tells PEOPLE. “It was clear he has taken an active role in shaping the layout of the rooms as well as their design and, most contentiously, his desire to dramatically change the exterior livery.”
Anderson — who says “I had to pinch myself” the first time he boarded the historic plane while filming the series — says Trump “was able to share a broad view of his vision for the plane from amenities, updates and upgrades” during their interview.
“With a new administration taking the helm in the coming months, only time will tell how much of his creative input will hold,” Anderson says. “But it was clear to me that he [Trump] felt very proud to have ushered in a new generation Air Force One and that part of his legacy will shape presidential flight for decades to come.”
The planes are being constructed in San Antonio, Texas, ahead of their 2024 debut.
Co-producer Scott Batemen,, who is also a 747 pilot, tells PEOPLE the experience of flying in the plane on training missions was “something I will never forget.”
“As a 747 aficionado with over 20,000 hours of military and civilian flying," Batemen says, "it was the best aviation experience I have ever had."
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