President Donald Trump wants a new paint job for the next Air Force One. That’s according to Axios, which reported today that Trump would like to replace the current iconic design with a paint job that makes it “look more American.” I can’t imagine how you make one of the most renowned symbols of American global power “more American.” It’s like saying the Seal of the President would look more American if the bald eagle were holding a Big Mac and 13 french fries.
Nobody really knows what “looks more American” means. But for starters, Trump wants “that Jackie Kennedy color” to go away, because it doesn’t represent the United States. Instead, his preferred design, according to Axios, includes “red, white, and blue.” I can only imagine it must look like the Budweiser “America” can.
“That Jackie Kennedy color” refers to “luminous ultramarine blue,” one of the two blue hues that the legendary French-American industrial designer Raymond Loewy chose for the livery in 1962. Just in case Trump claims that a French-born designer couldn’t possibly create an appropriate symbol for America, let the record show that Loewy is the man who created the Exxon and the TWA logos, as well as the classic Coca-Cola vending machines and the Lucky Strike cigarette package–you really can’t get any more American than that. But I digress.
Loewy created the presidential airplane livery pro-bono at the request of Jackie Kennedy. He was inspired by the Declaration of Independence; just like that document, the words “United States of America” appear on the Air Force One in a widely spaced Caslon typeface. The airplane’s dual colors have symbolic meaning: The deep blue represents the original republic and the sky blue that represents the future. It was a concept that both President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the First Lady loved, as did the press and the public at the time.
Over the last five decades, the Air Force One became imbued by the power of the President and the country it represented. Countless press photos and newscasts focused on that livery, as the chosen representative of We The People descended the stairs to meet heads of state worldwide. It was such powerful design, it became another symbol of the United States–comparable to the flag itself. But it’s not enough for Trump’s gaudy vision of America, where everything must be lined in red, white, and blue, and feature bald eagles–wearing red MAGA caps, of course.