Air Force One


Is Air Force One in contact with ATC or do they have private frequencies that they talk on when they are airborne?

If they do contact ATC on the regular frequencies, have any of you ever gotten to actually hear it while flying?


Yes and yes. Air Force 2 as well. If you know the President has been somewhere recently… and they are covered on LiveATC you can pull the archives and listen to the audio. You can often track the press plane on here. It is a charter by various operators. That will give you an idea of what time AF1 departed.


I remember when Bush came to KDAY last year I couldn’t hear AF1 on regular tower freq. 119.9. Could they have possibly been transmitting on the military freq.?


I’ve always heard them on the normal freq. In fact most military transport aircraft operate on the normal freqs. I mix it up with Army (yes Army), Navy and Air Force all the time. Most of the tactical aircraft that come through here are Navy A-6’s and normally I can’t hear them talking, just the tower or approach talking to them. Every once in a while they will be talking on the normal freq too.


Military transport aircraft use VHF as a primary and UHF for backup ATC communcations while tactical aircraft almost exclusivley use UHF.

On some tactical aircraft tuning to a VHF frequency requires that the pilot remove his attention from necessary flying duties so they will normally not accept a VHF freq unless they are flying at their home field and the local VHF frequencies are preprogrammed into the radio head.


When the President was in Palm Springs AF1 was talking to the tower and socal approach on regular VHF freqs. They are not called airforce one, actually call sign is SAM 27000, which stands for Special Air Mission and the number is the tail number on the plane.

Not suprisingly everyone else on the freq gets told to standby and they get vectored out of there quickly.


Then POTUS wasn’t aboard. When he’s aboard, it is Air Force One. They usually have a back up aircraft* along for the trip which will operate as a SAM#. Sometimes the President leaves one city and flies to a smaller town aboard the C-32A, C-37A or C-40B.

*Remember when Clinton got stuck in the mud @ CMI? Had to wait a few hours for another ride.


Every time Clinton and ‘W’ have come into KCMH we here him on normal freqs. Did he go into KDAY or Wright Patt.?


When I’ve heard them they aren’t very chatty. They usually say ‘Tower, AF1 checkin in @ outer marker, three green’. Tower clears them to land and they say ‘AF1 roger’. That’s about it!


I’ll second that.


27000 has been retired for many many years. I believe that it is the aircraft that is now in the Regan library.

The two VC25’s are 28000 and 29000.


Good catch! Reagan Library website confirms 27000 is the one they have. W used it once for 1.9 hours in August 2001. I saw his dad use it in about 1990-91. I think they were still de-bugging the VC-25’s.


Let’s just say I wish I had a dollar for each day I had to look at 26000, 27000, 28000, 29000, 86971 and 86972. I could keep going on but my brain hurts.


I was listening to stream of MSP tower and approach during an AF1 arrival there and watching the video stream from one of the news stations a couple years ago. As soon as AF1 was inbound all movement ceased on the ground and planes were holding in the air and the freq went silent except for AF1 and the tower. the plane landed, GWB got out and did his formalities and took off in the limo and as soon as he hit the gate the frequency was again busy. When he got back to the airport a few hours later, he was behind schedule but secret service shut movement down at the scheduled time, forcing several diversions and long hold times. it was pretty entertaining.

Heard AF1 take off another time from PHNL on GWB’s way back from an
Asia trip and it was pretty much the same except this trip they had SAM 29000 as the backup that took off immediately after AF1.


It was KDAY, he spoke at my high school.


Air force one typically uses the normal VHF frequencies,at least he di when he came into huntsville a few months ago,all traffic stopped except for the special aircraft assigned to security detail.There is TFR up today over Central tennessee as he is touring the tornado damage,C-17s landed at Nashville yesterday unloaded the limos and secrect service advance team.There are also 5 Knighthawks with them 2 VH-3 and 3 Ch-46.


I was at the Nashville airport yesterday working and saw the C130’s unloading. There was also a smaller plane witht hem that looked like it had radar on top. Does thos plane always travel with the President or was it something else?


I vaguely remember some documentary program about Air Force One, I believe it was on Discovery Channel. For the few details they got into, they mentioned that the current AF1 has its own omni directional radar system, compared to the older AF1’s that relied on ground radar and/or an AWAC.

Personally, I think it must have been “something else”


The one you saw with the radar was possibly an E-2C hawkeye there were several in the area that day i heard a flight of 4 E-2C at one time,it was unrelated to the Presidential visit.


This is the plane that I was referring to. Saw it land and parked at BNA … 5efa8f247f