Executive One

I am hoping you guys can help me out.

While watching CNN this morning, they kept saying that President Bush and his family would travel to Texas on the 747 and the call sign would be “Executive 1”.

When I was an Air Traffic Controller (I will admit, its been 15 years since I was behind a scope), I was taught that “Air Force One” was any US Air Force aircraft that the President was on, be it the 747 (VC-25), an F-15 or one of the 757’s (C-32), same for “Marine One”, “Navy One”, “Army One” or “Coast Guard One”. Any military plane the President was on, it was called “(Insert Military Branch) One”.

If the President was flying on a non-military plane (i.e. a corporate Gulfstream or an American Airlines 767), than the callsign would be “Executive One”. (On a side note, if the First Lady was on the aircraft by herself without the President or Vice President, it would be called “Air Force One Foxtrot” or “Executive One Foxtrot”, etc)

It is the “1” designation for the President. Thus, calling the 747 taking President Bush to Texas “Executive One” seems inappropriate.
It should be called “SAM 28000”.

It shouldn’t be called “Executive” as it is a military plane, and it shouldn’t be called “One” as that is reserved for the current President.

Does anybody know why it is called “Executive One”?

see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_One

Exactly…“Executive One is the call sign designated for any United States civilian aircraft when the President of the United States is on board.”

This was not the case in either situation: Civilian aircraft or the President being on board. It was Marine and Air Force aircraft with an ex-President.

Wikipedia says that it was used, but I was trying to understand why it was used. Was this a change in FAA regulations, call signs and phraseology or was it done to make President Bush happy or was it done cuz nobody thought of anything else to use and they couldn’t use AF1?

More likely CNN and Wikipedia were both wrong.

Yeah, Bush was no longer the President when he left DC so the Executive One call sign should not have been used.

Found this article on Yahoo:

news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090120/ap_ … ation_bush

Citizen Bush lingered only two hours in Washington. From the Capitol, Bush and his family flew to Andrews Air Force Base where he made private remarks to supporters inside a hangar. The Bush family, including former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, then took a flight to Midland, Texas, riding one last time on the familiar blue-and-white presidential aircraft. It was called Special Air Mission 28000 instead of Air Force One since Bush no longer was president.

So the call sign was SAM Twenty Eight Thousand.

I queried Executive One and an article came up saying “Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walked the Bushes to the helicopter – known as Marine One when the president is on board but called “Executive One” for this flight – and bid them farewell with handshakes and hugs.”

Interesting why they would call the helicopter “Executive One”, yet revert back to the SAM28000 call sign for the 747.

The 747’s are maintained by the 1st Airlift Squadron and their mission is “Special air missions…” and thus the SAM designation. Wondering if the Marine unit doesn’t have the SAM designation and thus, the need to create a callsign for this type of function when the President isn’t on the aircraft?

Also, when the Marine helicopters drop off the President (they would be using the Marine One callsign), and then flies somewhere else to stage, what call sign do they use, as they wouldn’t be using the Marine One callsign as the President isn’t onboard? Would it be appropriate for this callsign to be used when airlifting an ex-President?

I just find this fascinating as it doesn’t follow standard protocol for naming conventions.

Here is a shot in the dark, maybe the media got it wrong. :open_mouth:

Noooooo! Yeah?!? Nooooo! :confused:

I would say that cnn is always wrong, and I havent figured out what the heck is wrong with wikipedia.

yea could be. how can you trust the news when its wrong.

i am going to take a stab in the dark here. maybe there is a difference in how the USMC and USAF give call signs to there aircraft.maybe?

I can’t remember if it was mentioned here or in another forum. But here’s the deal.

If the President flies on a USAF aircraft, callsign is Air Force One (as we know).
If the President flies on a USMC aircraft, callsign is Marine One.
If the President flies on a USN aircraft, callsign is Navy One.
If the President flies on a US Army aircraft, callsign is Army One.
If the President flies on a civilian (commercial) aircraft, callsign is Executive One.

To my knowledge, the last (and so far, only) time a President flew commercial was Nixon back in 1973, on a UAL flight. Executive One was the callsign on that flight.

If the President is dropped off from a military aircraft, and that aircraft flies somewhere else, the callsign of that aircraft is the service it is in (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, etc.) then the last 5 digits of the serial number of that aircraft.

Source: FAAO 711.65S, section 2-4-20.


Military planes routinely use a name and numbers as their call sign, such as Spider, Wasso, Boxer, etc (these were some of the names that I saw as an ATC). I believe these callsigns are assigned to their squadron as our bases used the same callsigns all the time.

I would assume that the Marine helicopter flights would be similar, but weird that the callsign Executive would be used as it is sued for non-military flights.

Interesting note on the Nixon “cost cutting” flight on a United airlines flight. A military plane (the than current version of Air Force One) followed the UA plane in case of an emergency.

While that is all correct per the 7110.65 that’s not how it always works. About a year ago the VP flew in on a C-32 and it used the call sign SAMxxxx. The VP was was returning from an tour of southern Asia. Perhaps they wanted to keep a lower profile. So while those are the rules laid out by the FAA. I’m sure the secret service calls the shots and the plane is called whatever they want it to be called.

The only problem with that is it’s 8 characters and only 7 are allowed for a call sign. :slight_smile:

It must be on Live ATC somewhere. Maybe they went with SAM928 or 929 since the official number of the planes are 92-8000 and 92-9000. Also I don’t know what the 89th name is but if it were The Flying Squirrels then maybe they flew as Squirrel One or Squirrel 28.

I remember reading a story somewhere about Nixon’s final flight from DC to California. He left in the morning and at 12 noon flying over the midwest when the transfer of power was completed and Ford was sworn in, the pilot called ATC and asked them to change them to change their call sign from Air Force One to Sam 28000 or whatever the number was since at that exact moment Nixon was no longer president. ATC response was “Roger, and give Mr Nixon our best”.

so what does a pilot say, if he takes his bud the prez on a cessna 172 flight, out of the local single runway airport??

I believe that was the Air Force One documentary on the Discovery or History Channel. I remember seeing that on one of those channels.

If the SS and the government were to actually allow it without saying that it wasn’t in the best interests of national security, the callsign would be Executive One.

But I’d expect the controller to balk a couple of times, and confirm the callsign, realize something is up, get on the phone, and send up fighters from the closest AFB and confirm.

The bigger question is what if the President is a pilot himself and went on a plane ride on his own, or piloted his own plane (Independence Day), what would his callsign be? Still Air Force One?


If he were flying an air force plane then yes, it should be. Usually in air force when the commander of a unit is flying he uses the callsign of that unit and a 1. For example one place I was at had a squadron who were called the “striking snakes” and they used the call sign snakeXX. When Snake01 was flying it usually meant the squadron commander was up. Each service has a “generic” call sign: A for air force, VV for navy, VM for marine, C for coast guard and R for Army. It only makes sense that when the commander in chief of the military is flying he’d take the “1” for that particular service.

Once air force one was flying though our airspace and people kept referring to him as steak sauce.