Larry Downing is a Reuters senior staff photographer assigned to the White House. He shares that duty with three other staff photographers. He has lived in Washington since 1977 and has been assigned to cover the White House , including flying aboard Air Force One, since 1978. President Barack Obama is the sixth president Larry has photographed.

Only two identical aircraft exist in the world which both share the same high-level function. They mirror one another precisely except for the numeric identifier on the tail. One reads 28000, the other 29000.
They’re as sleek as they are majestic. Anticipation runs high when either travels and both are red carpet worthy. They are concealed around-the-clock in a protective cocoon while being constantly pampered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

“Use of Deadly Force is Authorized” inside the security perimeter ringing around the outermost tips of their wings, and absolutely no one is allowed to enter without permission.

However, the moment the President of the United States, or POTUS, steps aboard, the aircraft immediately transforms from a mild-mannered Boeing 747 passenger jet into an aviation ambassador for the might of the United States, carrying one of the most powerful men in the world to any destination he chooses; all the while in complete luxury.

Welcome aboard Air Force One.

It’s America’s magic carpet and it floats freely through the clouds under a veil of secrecy while transporting essential elements of the White House inside a secure “bubble” to any corner of the world. Surprisingly, there’s an operating room with a doctor in case of a medical emergency and a protective armada of U.S. warplanes shadows its every movement.