Quantcast
Connect with us

The problem with letting Trump come up with a new look for Air Force One

Published

on

- Commentary
Air Force One in flight.

News outlets just announced that the Trump administration is going to redesign Air Force One, the Boeing 747 with the iconic blue-on-blue-on-white paint job that has heralded the arrival of every American president since John F. Kennedy.

Raymond Loewy is rolling over in his grave. First, for not receiving design credit from various news outlets trumpeting the Trumpian redo. Most media incorrectly credited Kennedy with the design. Second, for having one of his greatest visual branding triumphs overhauled by a person whose design aesthetic is “let’s see how much more gold we can pile on this.”

ADVERTISEMENT

As an internationally known industrial designer from 1930 to the 1970s, Loewy was well known as the designer of Air Force One’s distinctive color markings. His iconic ultramarine blue-on-blue design has lasted almost 60 years, commissioned by John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and Air Force General Godfrey McHugh.

While many of Loewy’s designs did not last beyond his lifetime, the case for retaining most, if not all, of the current aircraft’s design is compelling. No single aircraft is more instantly recognizable than Air Force One. The president’s jet has been linked with memorable images, from Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on the plane after the Kennedy assassination, to any number of shots of presidents descending the stairs after a triumphal trip overseas or campaign stop.

The aircraft is a place where policy is made, friendships are forged, and seminal events in history occur. Such a vehicle carries weight as a symbol, which means, and meant even more so in Loewy’s time, thatAir Force One carried the force of the United States in its appearance.

According to Loewy’s 1979 book Industrial Design, Godfrey McHugh, the Air Force aide to the president, told Loewy a newAir Force One was being developed, and McHugh suggested that Loewy redesign the markings. Loewy claimed he did the proposal design for no pay.  Loewy wrote: “I flew to the White House, the beginning of a remarkable relationship.” In his book Loewy describes presenting sketches showing Kennedy four different looks. “In every case I had replaced red [the previous predominant color of the jet] with a luminous ultramarine blue.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The more accurate story emerges from Loewy’s own archives in the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware. According to the 1967 notes in Loewy’s archive, the designer came to the White House with four graphic proposals and five lettering ideas. According to the notes, Loewy’s first ideas were predominantly red. Kennedy made the decision to make the color pattern blue. According to design historian Phil Patton, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had to personally authorize the color change.

The famed designer’s final creation retained the white top section but substituted sweeping shades of blue, including the aquamarine that covered the lower nose section and the cowling on the engines.

Previously, presidential planes had been identified by “United States Air Force” or “Military Air Transport Service” along the upper fuselage. Loewy substituted “United States of America” on the fuselage and placed a flag on the tail section. The flag’s union (the blue section) faced toward the nose. Loewy also reduced the intensity of the blue in the flag in order to match the blue used on the rest of the jet. The typeface for the fuselage lettering was supposedly inspired by the type used in the heading of the Declaration of Independence. As a result, “United States of America” was set in widely spaced Caslon typeface.

ADVERTISEMENT

Media reports say the current thinking on the redesign is to create what the President no doubt would call a “fantastic and tremendous” red, white and blue. This is a grand old color scheme, but also one that has been applied to everything from bikinis to motorcycle helmets to baseball hats.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and consider. Do we really want the person who “personally oversees” every aspect of his brand–including Trump Success (a fragrance), Trump Steaks, Trump Casinos, Trump ties (extra long) and Trump wine – to come up with an aircraft design that can compete with the majesty, dignity and stateliness of the current look?

I think not. And Raymond Loewy would agree with me.

ADVERTISEMENT

John Wall is the author of Streamliner, a biography of Raymond Loewy published by Johns Hopkins University Press. It will go on sale Aug. 15.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Commentary

Trump will turn to these secret weapons in desperation if the economy collapses before the 2020 election

Published

on

President Donald Trump, in recent weeks, has been stressing both economic themes and culture war themes. The economic themes were evident during a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on August 15, when Trump tried to frighten 401(k) owners into reelecting him and insisted, “You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes (under a Democratic president). So whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me.” But if the U.S. does go into a recession in the months ahead, Trump will have a harder time selling himself as the salvation of the American economy — in which case, he would likely become even more aggressive in pushing divisive culture war themes.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s rabid fans will back his racist lies — but some might not appreciate him wrecking the economy

Published

on

Donald Trump's propaganda apparatus is mighty — much more resilient and effective than any of his business endeavors ever were in the decades before he ran for president. While most Americans haven't bought into Trump's lies — which are up to an average of 13 a day — his base of supporters, who have way more power, in our undemocratic system, than their actual numbers justify, gobble up every ridiculous assertion emanating from the Oval Office.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Conservative columnist claims Trump is victim of racist attacks — links mass shootings to ‘identity politics’

Published

on

Donald Trump ruthlessly attacked The Squad -- four young lawmakers of color -- throughout the summer, directing them to go back to their home countries even though all four are U.S. citizens.

In response, Republicans continued to largely rally around the president despite his loud and unapologetic racist rhetoric.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, conservative columnist Heather Mac Donald says that Trump himself is a victim of racist attacks.

In a story headlined "Trump Isn’t the One Dividing Us by Race," Mac Donald claims that "He hardly mentions it, while his adversaries are obsessed with ‘whiteness’ and ‘white privilege.’"

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image