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This article discusses how on one occasion, the pilot of Air Force One, the personal air transport of the President of the United States, was required to perform evasive manoeuvres to avoid presumed hostile fighter aircraft over Syria. In reality, the Syrian aircraft were friendlies and their military authorities had merely failed to properly communicate their intent. But nevertheless, it shows, and is logical, that the pilots of these converted civilian aircraft are required to learn and perform techniques that would never be used in the intended civilian operation of these aircraft.

How do pilots learn to fly an airliner, like the VC-137 in use at the time of this anecdote, or in the present day a 747, beyond its intended use and presumably with a high risk of failure? Does the United States Air Force retain identical aircraft not routinely used as Air Force One, for specific training use? Otherwise, how is it determined that these manoeuvres are feasible in such an aircraft and that the pilot is capable of performing them?

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    $\begingroup$ Air Force one is whatever air force plane the president happens to be in, not a particular plane. $\endgroup$ – GdD Jan 28 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, although I think @TomW is referring to the general modified 747 used to convey the president if possible. $\endgroup$ – Jihyun Jan 29 at 1:32
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Does the United States Air Force retain identical aircraft not routinely used as Air Force One, for specific training use?

The Airforce maintains two identical versions of the VC-25A that it uses to fulfill the role of Air Force One but its unclear (and likely not public) if any practice occurs in either airframe.

Otherwise, how is it determined that these manoeuvres are feasible in such an aircraft and that the pilot is capable of performing them?

Through testing, as is the case for the operational envelope of any aircraft. Due to the nature of Air Force One this data is not (as far as I know) public.

On any note the pilots, who are typically career Air Force pilots all have lots of experience and in some cases experience flying other heavy or high performance aircraft as is the case with one of the most recent pilots

Col. Tillman's distinguished career spans 30 years in the United States Air Force. Utilizing his Bachelors of Science degree in Chemical Engineering (Tulane Univ '79), he served as a Rocket Propulsion Engineer upon entering the service but was quickly selected to attend USAF pilot training. His flying experiences include time as a T-37 Instructor Pilot for undergraduate pilot training, C-130 transport pilot, VIP airlift as a pilot in the Gulfstream III and IV

The air force trains for low altitude and evasive maneuvers in the C-130's not infrequently. I fly fairly close to a major air force base all the time, if you pick up flight following and get handed off to their tower you will often get a warning of such activity. You can generally see it out the window as well (its pretty neat). Presumably an force pilot coming from a C-130 background has some experience flying evasive maneuvers in heavy aircraft.

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