The Flying White House

Presidential airplanes, past and present.

(U.S. Air Force / NASM)

FDR Nomination


During the 1920s, a few presidents posed with airplanes for photographs, but none went aloft until 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt, then governor of New York, hopped onboard an American Airways Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor to fly to Chicago to accept the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. “After landing at Chicago,” wrote Von Hardesty in his book Air Force One: The Aircraft That Shaped the Modern Presidency, “Roosevelt was escorted by Mayor Anton Cermak in a motorcade to the Democratic convention, where the triumphal nominee received a tumultuous response. No presidential nominee had ever assumed the mantle of leadership in such a dramatic fashion, descending from the heavens in an airplane, the technical marvel of the twentieth century.”

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