What Kind of Country Would Let Its President Fly On a 20-Year Old Plane?

(If you're tempted to get mad about this item, see update below.)
The tragedy for Poland is profound, but as for the risks of flying officials in "aging" aircraft:

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The current versions of Air Force One entered service under President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Thanks to reader DM.

UPDATE. Note to the next 200 people tempted to send huffy notes and point out that "aging" airplanes are continually refurbished, that our B-52 fleet is "older" than virtually anyone in the armed forces, that it is a cheap shot to suggest that AF1 is not airworthy, etc: If you will take the one second required to click in the link at the start of this item, you will see that I am actually aware of these facts! This item follows two others -- first here, then here -- saying that the press should be slow to rush to conclusions about the "aging" airplane involved in the terrible Smolensk crash. Again, for convenience, the links are here and here. Note to the 200 who have already written huffy notes: Apologies accepted, even if you haven't gotten around to offering them.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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