News and Commentary

Trump’s Patriotic Paint Job For Air Force One Put On Hold: Report
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 13: Air Force One carrying the President of the United States, Donald Trump and First Lady, Melania Trump touches down at Glasgow Prestwick Airport on July 13, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The design for the next Air Force One set out by former President Donald Trump is now on hold, a top Air Force general said on Tuesday.

“At some point, when the build proceeds to where it needs to be, Boeing will come to the government and ask for a final decision on the paint,” Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, according to Defense One.

“A final decision about the color will be made closer to when the planes enter service, which is now even later than planned due to supply chain issues,” according to Richardson, the Air Force military deputy for acquisition, the defense website said. “Then when that happens, we’ll work that.”

For the last few years, the Air Force has been using a concept image of the plane with the red, white, and blue livery Trump outlined in an official budget request. The Biden administration’s fiscal 2022 budget request used the same image, but Richardson said “don’t read anything into” that.

“It’s a cartoon—it’s not a real airplane,” he said. “It’s just something that’s on a paper.”

Billions of people around the world know the distinctive plane on sight, the robin’s egg blue fuselage with the U.S. flag on the tail. But Air Force One is just the designation of whatever plane the president of the United States is on, and the Air Force keeps a stable of specially designed planes for the president to use.

Every generation, the planes are replaced with new models. But the colors have remained the same since the 1960s when first lady Lady Jacqueline Kennedy reportedly helped French-born American industrial designer Raymond Loewy with the color scheme.

In 2019, Trump unveiled a new look for the presidential plane — and one major change was the elimination of that famous robin’s egg blue. Showing a set of drawings for the new plane in the Oval Office, Trump told ABC News that “We had different choices here,” adding that he had come up with the design himself.

The Kennedy-era paint scheme is gone, replaced by red, white, and navy blue, similar to the American flag. The pair of $3.9 billion Boeing 747s won’t be put into service until 2024, so Trump might never fly on the planes.

“Here’s your new Air Force One — and I’m doing that for other presidents, not for me,” Trump told ABC News.

Members of Congress immediately objected to the amount of control the president had over the design of the presidential plane.

In a hearing of the Democrat-run House Armed Services Committee, Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) said Air Force One is “a representation of the power of the United States, the power of the president.”

“If someone wants to change its appearance, its scheme, then we ought to have a say in that,” he said.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) said Congress should be able to restrict the amount of money that can be spent — or, at least, spent on paint.

“Additional paint can add weight to the plane,” Courtney said, and “additional fixtures inside can also add to cost and delays to the delivery of the plane.”

Courtney introduced an amendment during the hearing on Wednesday that would limit spending on “interior, paint and fixtures,” essentially giving Congress control. The measure passed on a 31-26 party-line vote.

But Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama said those efforts simply look “like an attempt to just poke at the president.”

Other critics said Trump was merely recreating the color scheme of his own 747.

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