This week a major change in color was announced for one of the country's most iconic objects. The West Wing confirmed that the latest rendition of the presidential plane, Air Force One, would be trading in it’s iconic baby blue for a red, white, and blue paint scheme. This change got Thinking Color wondering why the plane is baby blue in the first place, and the story took us back to America’s first lady of style.
Presidential airplanes were simply repurposed military aircraft until President Eisenhower received the first purpose built presidential aircraft. The first Air Force One kept Boeing's standard factory color scheme of red and orange for military aircraft.
In 1962 the presidential plane was set to enter the jet age with an order of two new Boeing 707’s. The two new planes were set to be delivered in the standard red and orange, until Jackie Kennedy heard about the plane. After reading a critique of the new aircraft design by noted designer, Raymond Loewy, that described the color scheme as gaudy and amateurish the First Lady Convinced the President to hire Lowery to redesign the plane’s exterior.
Loewy, who was noted for his work with coca-cola and lucky strike, quickly redesigned the aircraft to project a much more subtle power while keeping style in mind. Gone was the red and orange replaced by smooth shades of cyan and slate blue. Loewy did not choose these colors out of thin air, he spent several days researching in the congressional archives. Inspired by an original copy of the declaration of independence he stated that the slate blue was representative of the earliest days of the executive branch (think of the blue uniforms of the revolution) and the more contemporary cyan represented the future of the country. This color scheme has been a staple of the presidential aircraft until today.