The Flying White House

Presidential airplanes, past and present.

(U.S. Air Force / NASM)

First Presidential Flight


In January 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to the Casablanca conference in Morocco on board a Boeing 314 Dixie Clipper (similar to the one shown here), marking the first time a sitting president had flown in an airplane. An escort of 36 fighters protected the presidential transport as it made its way toward the wartime meeting. The trip consisted of three legs: the first, covering 1,600 miles, took Roosevelt from Miami, Florida, to Port of Spain, Trinidad. The second leg covered the 1,200 miles to Brazil, and the third leg took the president and his staff 2,500 miles across the Atlantic to Gambia. From there, the group took a C-54 to Casablanca. Other conference attendees traveled less luxuriously: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill flew in an unheated B-24 Liberator, sleeping on a mattress in the rear of the bomber.

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