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Fact check: Any plane carrying the U.S. president is called ‘Air Force One’

Social media users have been sharing posts which assert that President Biden did not fly on Air Force One, as a plane he flew on looks different to the plane used by President Trump when he left the White House. Some users suggest this is evidence that Biden is not a legitimate president. This claim is false: although Biden is using a smaller Air Force plane, the term “Air Force One” refers to any U.S. Air Force aircraft used by the president. Trump and Obama both used this smaller plane on several occasions while president.

U.S. President Joe Biden disembarks from Air Force One as he arrives from Newcastle, Delaware at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., February 8, 2021. REUTERS

The posts (here  ,  here  ,  here  ,  here  ,  here) juxtapose images of Trump boarding a plane to return to Florida having left the White House on Biden’s inauguration day (Jan. 20, 2021), with images of Biden boarding a plane to Delaware on Feb. 5, 2021. The captions say, “Media lied to you about Joe flying on AF1. Notice the difference”; “This is Biden’s first ride on Air Force One two days ago, but if you notice… it is not the real AF1. So… what’s up with that? Check out real pictures of AF1 and compare.” “Biden’s Air Force One is not the same as Trump’s Air Force One”; and “HE DID NOT BOARD AIR FORCE ONE.” Comments on the posts include, “Trump is still President” and “He is not the President. Trump won the election.”

The photos used in the posts do show authentic Air Force One planes that President Biden and former President Trump used: the footage from Fox News and the BBC where the screenshots are taken from can be seen here (see last two seconds) and here . Reuters photos of these trips can be seen here , here and  here .

The two planes are different. But the White House website explains that, although today it is “standard practice” to use the term “Air Force One” to refer to one of two Boeing 747-200B series aircraft with the Air Force designation VC-25 that are customized to transport the President, “technically,” the term “’Air Force One’ is used to designate any Air Force aircraft carrying the President.” (here) .

In the pictures in the social media posts Trump is travelling in the VC-25 Air Force One, the details of which can be seen here  and  here  .

In contrast, Biden is travelling in a C-32, which is a smaller Boeing 757-200, see  here . This plane is often used by the vice president, first lady and members of Cabinet and Congress, and is therefore sometimes referred to as “Air Force Two”, however the President does use the smaller plane at times.

Trump himself used the C-32 on multiple occasions, as seen in footage from the USA Military channel and Reuters photos here  ,  here  ,  here  and  here  . Obama also used the C-32, as shown in Reuters photos here and here .

The smaller plane is used for shorter trips to smaller airports with shorter runways, as explained by the New York Times here  and a Penn State university blog here .

This would explain why Biden used the C-32 plane for a 25-minute trip from Washington D.C. to Delaware (here  ,   here  ,  here) .

Claims that Biden is not the president of the United States are false: Article 2, section 1 of the United States constitution says the person with the greatest number of votes from the Electoral College shall be the president (here) and before he enters “on the Execution of his Office” he shall take the Oath of Office. Biden received the most Electoral College votes, with 306 to Trump’s 232, a result that was later certified by the U.S. congress. A video of Biden taking the Oath of Office at his inauguration on Jan. 20, can be seen here and here .

The official Library of Congress list of past and current presidents (here) and the White House website (here) , both show that Biden is the current president.

Reuters has previously debunked other false proof used to attempt to show that Biden is not president, some linked to the baseless QAnon conspiracy (here  ,  here  ,  here  ,  here) .

VERDICT

False. Any Air Force aircraft carrying the President is referred to as “Air Force One”. Past presidents, including Trump, have used the smaller C-32 plane that Biden used for the short trip to Delaware.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here  .

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