|Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 21):|
You are almost right. The aircraft was a B-747, but it was UA. IIRC, the aircraft took off around 0900 EST and carried the Executive-1 call sign until 1200 EST, when President Ford was sworn in as President.
Then the aircraft reverted to it's regular assigned call sign/flight number.
BTW, that flight made President Nixson the first sitting President to fly aboard a B-747.
Wrong, this flight took place while Nixon was still in office, a few months before he resigned...even still the flight he took back to California the day after he resigned was on board a VC
-137, where the callsign was changed at noon while the aircraft was over Missouri when President Ford was sworn in...quoting directly from my source, the book "Air Force One" by Von Hardesty:
"The President Flies Commercial: Nixon Surprises Air Travelers on a DC-10 flight to Los Angeles
Richard M. Nixon was the only US president ever to fly on a regularly scheduled commercial flight while in office. This flight took place on December 26, 1973, and became one of the most legendary episodes in the history of presidential travel.
On the day chosen for the flight, President Nixon's party of 25 people quietly slipped out of the White House and, in a motorcade, made their way to Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. Successfully evading the White House press corps, Nixon and his entourage flew on United Airlines flight 55 from Washington to Los Angeles. The whole affair took place under a cloak of secrecy, for security reasons. For the flight on the DC-10 jumbo jet, the president's party purchased thirteen first class tickets at $217.64 each, and some twelve coach tickets at $167.64 apiece, mostly for the Secret Service agents in tow. In a gesture of personal stewardship, the president insisted on purchasing tickets for himself, First Lady Pat Nixon, and daughter Tricia Nixon Cox. Apparently, no one was bumped from the flight to make room for the president and his large retinue; in fact, Nixon later stated that his choice of this particular flight was based on the assumption that there would be empty seats and no one would be inconvenienced.
Those who had reserved seats on United Airlines Flight 55 were, to say the least, startled at the fact that the president of the United States had joined them on the transcontinental flight. Nixon abandoned his first-class seat in the forward section of the DC-10 to walk the aisles and engage in informal conversations with the passengers.
Later, Nixon's deputy communications director, Ken W. Clauson, explained that the unprecedented flight on a commercial airliner was a way for the president "to set an example for the rest of the nation during the current energy crisis." The 1970's had become an era of shortfalls in imported crude oil, rising fuel prices for homes and automobiles, and heightened public concern over energy conservation. Nixon's rationale for the flight rested on the assumption that a commercial ticket would cost dramatically less than a similar domestic trip on Air Force One. However, many newspaper editorial responses were highly critical of the Nixon flight, as in the case of the Washington Post, where the episode was described as "penny-wise, pound-foolish." Some also asked whether the president had remained in the White House communications net, in case of an emergency. A White House spokesman answered that, yes, President Nixon had remained in touch with government and military nerve centers."
Airways also did an article a few months back on Nixon's DC-10 trip, but I have to dig through my extensive magazine collection to find it, and I'm willing to type that all out if you want me to and I can locate it...