The Flying White House

Presidential airplanes, past and present.

(U.S. Air Force / NASM)

Landing in China

(National Archives/ White House)

A Chinese honor guard was on hand to greet President Richard Nixon and his staff when Air Force One landed in Beijing, China, on February 21, 1972. “When our hands met,” said Nixon of his historic meeting with Chinese premier Zhou En-lai, “one era ended and another began.” Von Hardesty writes in Air Force One that the crew was nervous about the trip: “The crew had no current data on radio frequencies, landing procedures, or protocols for flying in Chinese air space. There were other technical concerns, such as the availability of compatible linkage to auxiliary ground power, among myriad other problems.”

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