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October 10, 2011

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ac-119k

A Favorite from
The Book Hootch

 

Air Force One (The flying White house)

by Robert F. Dorr, Published by MBI International,
Hardback, ISBN 0-7603-1055-6, $23.95.
Can be found at Barnes & Noble book store

Air Force One is the aircraft that carries President George W. Bush. "Air Force One," published by MBI in September 2002, is the book that pushes aside the curtain of secrecy on the president's plane, presidential travel, and its meaning to a nation now at war.

Before September 11, 2001, the blue and white Boeing 747-200, or VC-25A, was celebrated for its beauty as it whisked the chief executive to fundraisers and ribbon cuttings. An Air Force officer called the plane a "cruise ship," comparing its luxurious accommodations to an upscale seafaring vessel. Another called Air Force One, "a symbol of a great nation constantly on the move."

The terror attacks changed all that. The public learned that Air Force One is a military aircraft. The book begins with the zigzag path followed by Air Force One-and its fighter escort-during hectic moments of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Why did the aircraft take Bush from Florida to Louisiana to Nebraska, and only belatedly back to Washington? Why did officials believe that Air Force One itself was an intended target? Why did officials dust off a supersecret plan for continuity of government, disclosed in this book, that had been designed for nuclear war?

Author Dorr, Air Force veteran, diplomat, and columnist for Air Force Times, gives a nuts-and-bolts tour of Air Force One. But the book also covers the part the Air Force didn't tell him about-the defensive system aboard Air Force One, the mysterious C-20C Gulfstream III "shadow aircraft" that comes along on every mission, and more…

No one else could have written this book. Dorr grew up near Andrews Air Force Base, home of Air Force One, and has visited the base for 50 years. He received help from the base and from scholars and historians.

"Air Force One" is as much a part of today as this morning's headlines, but the book is also a history of presidential air travel. We learn of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Flying White House," a C-54 Skymaster modified with a special hoist to accommodate FDR's wheelchair. We see Harry S. Truman signing national security legislation aboard his C-118, the Independence, a little-publicized presidential aircraft. We follow the travels of presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan, including November 1963 when Air Force One brought the slain John F. Kennedy home from Dallas.

This is a fresh, close-up look. What does Air Force One look like inside? How did the makers of the Harrison Ford film "Air Force One" learn secrets about the plane? What's the job of the commander of the Presidential Airlift Flight, of an airborne communications systems operator? This is a beautiful filled with details and pictures.

Robert Dorr is an Air Force Veteran and a columnist for the Air Force Times. His book is available in bookstores or from the distributor at (800) 826-6600 or at www.motorbooks.com.

If you know of a book that would be appropriate for these pages please let us know.

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