Air Force One
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Air Force One can be found here.

While U.S. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford), his wife Grace (Wendy Crewson), and daughter Alice (Liesel Matthews) are returning from a diplomatic dinner in Moscow, Air Force One (their jet) is hijacked by a group of Russian "ultranationalist radicals" led by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman). Although escorted safely to his escape pod, the President sneaks back into the plane and secretly works to defeat the terrorists, while Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) is forced to deal directly with Korshunov who vows that he will execute one hostage every half-hour until their demands are met.

Air Force One is based on an original screenplay written by American screenwriter Andrew W. Marlowe. The enormous success of the film spawned a novelization, also titled Air Force One (1997), by American mystery writer Max Allan Collins. Though the book has the same central plot and outcomes as the film, its main storyline differs significantly.

It's not the plane they want. Their goal is to force the President to arrange for the release of General Radek (Jürgen Prochnow), the dictator of a rogue terrorist regime in Kazakhstan who is currently being held in a prison in Moscow.

With the pilot dead, the President is forced to fly Air Force One, calling upon his experience 25 years ago flying light airplanes. However, when the plane is attacked by several Radek loyalists flying MiG bombers, it loses fuel to its engines and sustains major damage to the tail, rudder, and elevator, making it impossible to land safely. The bullets and shrapnel also cut hydraulic pipes, so the plane is running out of fuel. Consequently, a dangerous midair rescue is attempted. Air Force One is ziplinked by cable to a U.S. Air Force (USAF) Hercules C-130 Rescue plane, and parajumpers are dispatched to bring the survivors across. Although the President is supposed to be rescued first, he hangs back to let Grace, Alice, and wounded Chief of Staff (Paul Guilfoyle) go first, leaving Agent Gibbs (Xander Berkeley), Major Caldwell (William H. Macy), and the President yet to be transported. Just then, the final engine on Air Force One goes out, and the plane begins to descend steadily into an inevitable crash landing into the Caspian Sea. Suddenly, Gibbs pulls out a gun and turns rogue, shoots Caldwell and the last parajumper, and turns the gun on the President. They struggle for the zipline strap, which the President manages to secure to himself just as the zipline breaks from the door frame. The President is whisked out the door, leaving Gibbs behind. Gibbs is killed as Air Force One splashes and sinks into the water, while the President is pulled into the Hercules. After boarding the plane, Marshall is saluted by the American solders. When he is safely aboard, the Hercules pilot informs the anxious White House that the call name of the Hercules is now Air Force One, indicating that the President is on board. In the final scene, the Vice-President tears up the presidential incapacity order, the President hugs his family, and the F-15s resume their position flanking Air Force One as it brings the President home.

"Air Force One" is designated as the air traffic control sign of any USAF aircraft carrying the President of the United States.

In the script, Agent Gibbs was a CIA spook who was angry at his country. He knew the terrorists from his CIA days, so they included him in their operation. This scene was considered too long to tell, so it was cut from the film.

Though it's never stated in the film, the implication is that he would frame Major Caldwell for Marshall's murder, and claim that he fought him off long enough to get off the plane. This is supported in the film's novelization. It is also implied that Gibbs would have pointed the finger at a fellow U.S. Secret Service agent for opening the cache and lending the weapons and bulletproof vests and pointed the finger at Major Caldwell for killing the President, and said that he killed the Major to protect the President and hold him off long enough to escape and then left the plane, and then have been executed for treason when his story fell apart.

No real AFO 747 was used as it would be too expensive to use the real plane and have in stunts and explosions so the director decided to use a stunt double. To get everything right, director Wolfgang Petersen requested permission from the United States government to have access to the plane as well as the United States military equipment. At first, the White House wasn't going to allow the filmmakers access to the real Air Force One. A phone call from Harrison Ford persuaded the administration to change its mind. Finally, President Bill Clinton granted Harrison Ford, director Wolfgang Petersen and a large part of the crew aboard the plane where they all took a tour of the real Air Force One before filming. They based some of the film's scenes, where the terrorists disguised as journalists survey the plane's layout and begin to take their seats, on the touring experience. The character of Deputy Press Secretary Melanie Mitchell was based largely on their real life tour guide, and the crew felt uncomfortable having to film the character's execution by the terrorists. For the exterior scenes, the producers rented a Boeing 747-212B aircraft, N703CK from Kalitta Air and repainted it to replicate the iconic Air Force One livery (later painted with fake bullet holes in the tail). Flying scenes were done with CGI. In the photo here taken on September 30th, 1996 at LAX, you can see it in the Air Force One livery. Interior scenes of the aircraft were done in a studio set. According to IMPDb, the VC-25A is seen throughout the movie with the main action scenes being based around it. This is obviously not one of the actual ones but a very good representation. Registration N703CK, c/n 19727/54 built in 1970, rented from American International Airways, precursor to Kalitta Air. Previously flew for Japan Air Lines as JA8103. In the photo here, where it's parked at Moscow waiting for the President, notice the lack of a bulge on the nose just below the cockpit where the real aircraft would have a mid-air refueling point as well as some antennas. Nonetheless, planespotters at LAX were completely fooled by the aircraft in it's repaint that they actually thought the President was in town, not actually realising that it was a movie being filmed.

Scenes explaining why Gibbs was the mole and why exactly he turned rogue remains unknown to the viewers. We are never told of his motivations in the film. The audience is just left to assume he is a psychopath who turned crazy. It was cut out the final script because this scene was considered too long to tell. The director also felt that it was unnecessary to add in the film so it was removed as it was irrelevant to the plot. He felt its something insignificant that the audience doesn't really need to know about. According to director Wolfgang Petersen in an interview, Agent Gibbs was a former CIA agent who lost a lot after the end of the Cold War and thus became angry with the American government and wanted revenge. The hijackers never reveal to anyone Gibbs' true identity, to the point where they also tie him up along with President Marshall, Major Caldwell, and the Chief of Staff.

There are a total of six Russian Radek loyalists. Besides loyalist Ivan Korshunov, there was Korshunov's best friend and pilot Andrei Kolchak (Elya Baskin) and henchmen Sergei Lenski (Levan Uchaneishvili), Igor Nevsky (David Vadim), Boris Bazylev (Andrew Divoff), and Vladimir Krasin (Ilia Volok).


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