The massive aircraft now can land safely at Mar-a-Lago, thanks to a recently completed helipad on the back lawn of the estate. Whether Trump will make use of the helicopter on this visit is yet to be known. But he will at some point have to put Mar-a-Lago’s latest infrastructure to use.
Here are five things to know about Marine One.
1. It’s larger than some small jets.
About 12 passengers can fit comfortably in the helicopter’s 200 square feet of interior space.
2. It’s not just one helicopter.
“Marine One” can refer to any aircraft operated by the and carrying the president. According to National Geographic, the fleet consists of 35 aircraft comprised of four models of helicopters: two cargo and two passenger choppers.
The signature craft with which the public is most familiar is the Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King. Introduced more than four decades ago, the Sea King is nearly 75 feet long and is operated by a crew of four, according to the U.S. Navy.
Marine One rarely is seen alone when flying long distances — say, from the White House to Camp David — because it will be accompanied by one or two other aircraft from the fleet as decoys.
3. It has been referred to as a “flying Oval Office.”
Similar to Air Force One, Marine One offers a fully functional workspace for the president. The Sea King is so quiet inside, the president can have a conversation in a normal tone of voice, a crew member told National Geographic.
Test flights begin this year for the Sikorsky VH-92A Presidential Replacement Helicopter. This updated version of the Sea King will begin operation in 2020. So far, the program’s $1.24 billion contract has escaped Trump’s public scrutiny, whereas two other high-price programs — replacing Air Force One and building a fleet of F-35 fighter jets — have been mentioned several times by the president as too costly.
The VH-92A is a modified version of Sikorsky’s popular S-92 helicopter, which made its first flight in 1998 at the company’s Development Flight Test Center west of West Palm Beach.
5. Its defense features are top secret.
Though the Navy says in a fact sheet that the Sea King is not equipped with weapons, details of many of the helicopter’s defense features are kept under lock and key. What the Navy’s website does reveal: The Sea King has a “self-contained navigation system, survivability systems” and “EMP hardening” to protect the president’s travel.
(c)2017 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) — www.palmbeachpost.com
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