Raymond Loewy, Air Force One and the Trump Redesign
When JFK flew to Germany to speak at the Berlin Wall, Reagan flew to Iceland to meet with Gorbachev and Nixon flew to China in 1972, they all arrived in style via Air Force One. On each of those occasions, the American Presidents flew in a plane designed by the so-called Father of Industrial Design, Raymond Loewy.
Loewy is known for his many contributions to the world of design, but Air Force One might be the design most easily recognized across the globe.
In March of 1962, President Kennedy's 707 flew into Palm Springs, where Raymond Loewy spotted it. Loewy was unhappy both with the shoddy paint job on the plane as well as the gaudy orange design itself, so he met with one of his connections: General Godfrey T. McHugh, the President's Air Force Aide. Loewy offered his services to redesign the plane, donating the time and costs involved.
When Raymond Loewy first met with JFK in the White House with designs and color schemes, he had a red plane in mind. Kennedy suggested blue instead, noting that it was his favorite color.
Interestingly, the livery of the plane was initially supposed to be in red and gold. Kennedy balked at the idea, declaring it "too imperial".
The luminous ultramarine blue color of Air Force One is more than just aesthetically pleasing. It is also reminiscent of the United Nations blue, perhaps inspiring peace and diplomacy. The typeface used across the side of the plane is similar to the font used on early editions of the Declaration of Independence. The parabolic curves still look strikingly modern.
Recently, Trump announced plans to overhaul the look of Air Force One. He wants to get rid of the ultramarine blue (something he calls a "Jackie Kennedy color") in favor of a bolder red, white and blue look.
This is bound to ruffle a few feathers, and not just among those who appreciate the work of Raymond Loewy. Air Force One is a symbol of America, and it will certainly be interesting to see how that changes with a redesign.
Source: Victoria & Albert Museum
If you want to read more about the origin of Air Force One, check out this article from the AIGA. You can also see the original sketch by Loewy at MOMA. For the AXIOS story reporting Trump's planned changes to Air Force One, click here.