POTUS escape jet at RAF Fairford

16/09/2022

On September 16th, 2022, in almost complete secrecy, a United States Air Force Boeing C-32A arrived at RAF Fairford just as the sun was setting. 

A C-17 had arrived at the base from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, hours before which was an indication that one of the Presidential aircraft may be due into Fairford. It was that evening that I had headed up to the base to take a look at the C-17, registration 08-8195 flying with the 62nd Airlift Wing out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington state. Whilst I was there, the aircraft called for start, so I assumed it would be departing shortly. How wrong I was! It started up and reversed out of its original parking spot and into another one. A huge array of vehicles then appeared from the hangars which further suggested that something may be happening. No more than 5 minutes later, 19-0018 RCH041 made its inbound call and overflew the base. It landed at roughly 18:50 and taxied to park where the C-17 was originally. I couldn't, and still can't, believe my luck that I was there that evening!

You may be asking yourself though, why on earth does the US President need an escape jet, especially considering no other world leader does? Well, should a war break out and the President is unable to get aboard their VC-25, known as Air Force One, or their E-4B Nightwatch, or Doomsday plane, the escape jet is what the President will fly in as they direct their nation into war. With the sheer amount of vehicles and aircraft the President travels with on any one of their trips, you'd be inclined to think that they're paranoid! The reality is, however, that the President of the United States is the most powerful person on the planet with arguably the world's biggest military under their command.

The USAF operates 13 C-32s, 8 of which are painted in the Presidential blue and white scheme. The other 5 are much more incognito aircraft and as such are painted all over white, sometimes even wearing fake registration numbers!

19-0018 was bought by the USAF from Finnair in 2013 and carried the registration OH-LBO. It was converted to a C-32 and delivered to the 1st Airlift Squadron, 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews in July 2018.