So, I mentioned that the President went to Afghanistan. What I missed was a bit of arcane trivia. Most of you are familiar with Air Force One. But AF1 isn’t really the name of the two modified 747s set aside for his use. It is the call sign of whichever Air Force aircraft that he is aboard. Similarly, whenever the President is aboard on of the VH-3s operated by the Marines, that aircraft bears the call sign “Marine One.”
It’s awfully rare that the President flies on board an operational aircraft, rather than one of the fleet of special mission aircraft. So I was pleased to see that while in Afghanistan, the President hopped a ride on board a helo from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, allowing that crew to use the rarely invoked call sign “Army One.”
No, I didn’t get to see him.
But I will note that his transit between Kabul and Bagram was not done with USMC helos, but Army ones belonging to 3rd CAB, the “Wings of the Marne.”
So for two short flights, that one lucky bird had the rarely used callsign of “Army One.”
As a historical matter, for a long time, the Army was the agency tasked with operating the President’s helicopter flight. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Marines took over that job.