How Presidents Get Around

This week's installment of The Hub looks at presidential transportation.

On the heels of Presidents Day, The Hub is taking a look at presidential rides. This list is by no means exhaustive; as such readers please add your own anecdotes and trivia to the comments section following the article.


First in flight.

President Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in an aircraft. The momentous event occurred on Oct. 11, 1910. It wasn’t much of a journey, he enjoyed an over flight of a crowd at a country fair.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first siting president to fly.

Air Force One.

It’s not really a plane. It’s a call sign. Any U.S. Air Force plane carrying the President is Air Force One. Of course there are only a couple of planes outfitted to carry the president. The idea came in 1943 for a specific military aircraft to fly the president. But the call sign didn’t come until 1953 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the same airspace as a commercial airline flight using the same call sign.


First on

President Theodore Roosevelt.

He’ll be coming round the mountain…

President George W. Bush, who still has family in , was an avid mountain bike rider. After he left office he participated on a 12K mountain bike ride with the Wounded Warrior foundation in 2011.



Once upon a time the U.S. government owned a yacht, a presidential yacht. The USS Sequoia was in service from Presidents Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter. Carter put it up for sale in 1977. 


President George H.W. Bush had a cigarette boat that he kept in Kennebunkport, Maine.


After presidential candidates began touring the country in buses the White House realized they needed to join in the fun. Now the Secret Service has two black, armored buses in its fleet of vehicles.


President Millard Fillmore, the 13th President, decided he wanted a new carriage when he became president. He bought one and named it “Old Edward” after Edward Moran, a White House steward who was about to leave service.


It’s a stretch

Since the late 1930s the US government commissioned vehicles for presidential use. Aside from leather seats these cars have special defense countermeasures including military grade armor at least five inches thick, wheels that can run on flat tires, and front bumpers that can emit tear gas. President Barack Obama rides in one that entered service Jan. 20, 2009, manufactured by General Motors.

President William McKinley was the first president to ride in a car, but the government didn’t own a car until President Theodore Roosevelt.

Joy ride

Of all the presidential cars, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s personal car is The Hub’s favorite. This 1936 Ford Phaeton is exhibited in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park. The car features special hand controls and as a docent explained, the president loved, just loved, driving around the grounds in this shiny blue car.  


George Washington had “Nelson’ and “Blueskin” during the American Revolution. John Adams rode “Cleopatra.” And President Zachary Taylor’s old Army horse “Whitey” grazed on the White House lawn. Visitors used to take souvenir horsehair from the retired steed.

President Ronald Reagan loved horseback riding. He was often photographed riding at Rancho del Cielo, his California vacation home.


Marine One is the call sign for any U.S. Marine aircraft carrying the president, which is most often a helicopter. President Dwight Eisenhower was the first president to travel in an official helicopter.


While there is no official presidential train, presidents and presidents-elect have used them since the days of Andrew Jackson.

According to Railroad Magazine President Franklin D. Roosevelt clocked the most miles on the tracks. Most of them in a car named the “Ferdinand Magellan.”


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