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Presidential Airlift Wing: How Philippine Presidents Travel

The Presidential Planes

According to Malacañan Palace's Presidential Museum and Library, The first President to fly in an aircraft during his terms was President Manuel L. Quezon during his evacuation flight from the Philippines in 1942. Quezon and his family, officials of the Commonwealth government, including Vice-President Sergio Osmeña, flew from the Del Monte field in Bukidnon to Melbourne in Australia.

In the postwar years, Philippine Airlines (PAL) was tasked to provide a presidential aircraft to ferry the President for his state visits. PAL secured “its most modern aircraft and best crew during presidential flights”. In August 1949, a PAL DC-6 plane was designated as President Elpidio Quirino’s presidential plane when he visited Washington, DC. This was the first instance that a Philippine president was able fly across the Pacific by way of an official carrier. In 1952, PAL also carried the president in his official trip to Jakarta, Indonesia.
Krissia Luchansky
During President Ramon Magsaysay’s, in 1955, PAL was likewise commissioned to fly the president for his state visit to Washington D.C. in 1955. It was also during this time that PAL, with the government, purchased a new aircraft, the DC-7, an improved version of DC-6B. When President Carlos P. Garcia succeeded Magsaysay in 1957, PAL was still involved in ferrying the president to other countries for his state visits: Japan on December 1, 1958, to Saigon in Vietnam on April 22, 1959, and to Taipei in Taiwan on May 2, 1960. By this time, Garcia used “the biggest and the most luxurious aircraft in the fleet, the British- made turbo- prop Vickers Viscount”. When President Diosdado Macapagal became president in 1961, his presidential plane was a Fokker 29 jetliner, officially called “Common Man”. In the 1970’s, PAL, which became a government corporation during Ferdinand E. Marcos’ presidency, provided the “most modern aircraft” for the Marcoses’ official and personal travels. Since 1980, the official presidential aircraft has been a Fokker F-28. Most other nations only use this type of aircraft for military use.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines mandated the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing of the Philippine Air Force to serve as the “sole unit tasked to provide safe, secure and effective air transportation to the President of the Republic of the Philippines, his / her family, visiting Heads of state, and other the local and foreign VVIPs.” Other responsibilities include conducting proficiency training of aircrew and support personnel; performing organizational and field maintenance of aircraft; coordinating of aircraft requirements for presidential flights; providing command and control and communication for presidential flights; providing presidential security augmentation and flight safety and technical officers for VVIP movement locally and abroad.

Several aircraft are assigned to this unit, including the PAF's sole Fokker F-28 Fellowship 1, Fokker F-27 Friendships, S-70 Blackhawks, S-76s, SA-330 Pumas, and Bell 412s. The 250th Presidential Airlift Wing is stationed at Villamor Air Base, located near the Presidential Palace in Manila. The callsign "Kalayaan 1" is used by the unit in a similar way as the term "Air Force 1" in the United States, designated an aircraft with the President of the Republic of the Philippines on board.

The 250th Presidential Airlift Wing traces its lineage back to 1947, when the Philippine Air Force was tasked to provide air transportation to the President of the Republic of the Philippines, his/her Family and State Guests pursuant to General Orders Number 228, General Headquarters, Armed Forces of the Philippines, dated 24 October 1947. As a consequence, one Squadron of then 205th Composite Wing was tasked to provide one C-47 as the primary aircraft with pilots and crew. The C-47 was subsequently replaced in 1959 by the Fokker F-27 Friendship as the primary aircraft.

Popularly known as F-28 “Fellowship,” the Presidential Fokker F-28 was manufactured by Fokker Aviation BV (now defunct) in The Netherlands. This model came out of the Fokker factory in 1979 and was bought by the Central Bank of the Philippines (CBP) for the use of President Marcos. It was delivered to the Philippines on September 1980, until its ownership was transferred from the CBP to the Office of the President (OP) on December 26, 1995. Finally, it was donated to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in May 2006.
Krissia Luchansky
Photo credit to Global Aviation Resource - PTPA Krissia Luchansky
As of March 11, 2011, its total flying time is 5,525 hrs. Its contemporaries are at 10,000 to more than 20,000 hrs. The plane’s last mandatory inspection was a “D” check. This is also known as a Heavy Maintenance visit (HMV). This was a very detailed inspection of the structure, which was done March 2009 in Indonesia. During the inspection in 2009, added works were done such as: the cabin interior was refurbished, seats were newly upholstered, airshow/flight entertainment was installed and the exterior repainted.

BELL 412

-There are at present five Bell 412 presidential helicopters
-All five Bell 412 helicopters were delivered from Bell helicopter Textron Company, USA
-Two Bell 412 helicopter with tail nos. 1998 and 2000 were delivered on 23 March 1994
-The other three Bell 412 helicopter with tail nos. 1898, 1986 and 1896 were delivered by the same company on July 3, 1996
-These Bell 412s were funded by the Common Aviation Unit of the National Government of the Philippines composed of BSP, DBP, GSIS, LBP, PAGCOR and PNB.

On April 7, 2009, a Bell 412 presidential helicopter operated by the Philippine Air Force crashed due to poor visibility brought by bad weather. The eight fatalities in the incident were three Palace officials, three military personnel, and two pilots, all passengers of the Bell 412 presidential helicopter. The wreckage was found on a steep slope within the boundaries of Benguet and Ifugao. The chopper took off from Loakan Airport late Tuesday afternoon was supposed to go to Banaue town in Ifugao province as advance party for President Arroyo’s inspection.

Aside from Press Undersecretary Capadocia, aboard the aircraft were presidential military aide Brig. Gen. Carlos Clet, Undersecretary for Presidential Engagements and Appointments Malou Frostrom, Presidential Management Staff assistant director Perlita Bandayanon, Navy Petty Officer 1 Demy Reyno, and Perez. The pilots were identified as Major Rolando Sacatani and Captain Alvin Alegata.

-The S-70A Blackhawk presidential helicopter was manufactured by Sikorsky
-It was delivered on March 7, 1984 from the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of the United States Army
-It was given by the AFP to the Philippine Air Force for use of the Office of the President
-Total flying time: 3400 hrs

President Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and Aquino III have used it.

Successfully flying the President of the Republic of the Philippines is an achievement done with great pride and honor.

Traditionally, as covered by (Standing) Operating Procedures, the pilots and crew who took part in the actual flight mission are awarded the coveted Presidential Flight Crew Badge in recognition of their great responsibility in the successful air transportation and are awarded the Presidential Flight Crew Badge.

Teamwork, Responsiveness and Flexibility are qualities not new to Presidential Security Group, 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, Naval Air Group, and the whole of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Each of its workhorses seeks to uphold an institution that is credible, reliable, and trustworthy for the Filipino people. Notwithstanding the odds, they do their jobs for the benefit of what is right and safe.


Part 2 - Kalayaan 1: How Presidential Airlift Wing flies President Rodrigo Duterte to be published soon.

Presidential Airlift Wing: How Philippine Presidents Travel Presidential Airlift Wing: How Philippine Presidents Travel Reviewed by Raelyn Luchansky on 8:17:00 AM Rating: 5

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