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Marine One is the call sign for any Marine Corps aircraft that is carrying the President. The fleet of helicopters is operated by the HMX-1 “Nighthawks.” HMX-1 uses two unique aircraft types: the Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King and VH-60N Blackhawk, in support of Presidential missions. Marine One can be distinguished by its high-gloss, green and white paint scheme, referred to as "White Tops." The Sea King is capable of transporting 14 passengers while the Blackhawk seats 11 passengers. The Blackhawk helicopters fold easily and can be loaded onto an Air Force C-17 transport aircraft. When the President travels, either domestically or internationally, the helicopters travel with him.

Marine One, with President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush aboard, departs the South Lawn of the White House, October 31, 2008, en route to Camp David.

Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum (P103108CG-0254)

Marine One always flies in a group with identical helicopters, sometimes as many as five. One helicopter carries the President, while the others serve as decoys for would-be assassins on the ground. Upon take-off these helicopters begin to shift in formation regularly to obscure the location of the President. Every Marine One is equipped with state of the art security and technology. Every time Marine One lands, the President is greeted and received by an armed Marine guard who is wearing a Marine Blue Dress uniform.

Marine One is often used as an alternative to motorcades, which can be expensive and logistically difficult. When the President leaves Washington D.C., he takes the helicopter from the White House South Lawn to Andrews Air Force Base where his plane, Air Force One, is waiting. He also uses the helicopter to get to Camp David, the Presidential retreat, in Western Maryland. While Air Force One flies the President to an airport, Marine One is often used to transport the President around the area in which he is traveling, especially if the helicopters are more conducive to what he is doing, such as viewing areas in the aftermath of disasters.

Bibliography

  • HMX-1 Executive Flight Detachment (6 December 2011)
  • Chuck Lloyd and Rick Llinares “The Pride of the Marines: Marine One Crew Chiefs” Naval Aviation May-June 1997.

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