Yes, we are the best connected non-hub airport in America!

Delta Connection plane
By Tina Kinsey, Director of Marketing, PR & Air Service Development.

According to a recently released study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Center for Transportation, Asheville Regional Airport is the best connected non-hub airport in the United States. Pretty impressive.

But what does “connectivity” mean?

The typical air traveler has one goal: get from point A to point B as easily as possible, within the timeframe needed, and hopefully, at a competitive price.

Now, if you live close to a large hub airport, such as Atlanta, you have many choices to help you achieve your travel goals. No question about it.

But if you live in a region our size, your choices may be limited. In fact, hundreds of regions in America have very limited air service options, and can’t achieve that air travel goal. People in those regions may give up the ease of travel by either driving hours to a different airport or connecting in multiple cities to finally reach their destinations. They may also have to alter their travel timelines because flights are unavailable when they would prefer. Not so for western North Carolina travelers. We have options.

Asheville Regional Airport tops a list of over 300 non-hub airports across the country for its excellent connectivity. Frequency of daily flights to major hubs is a primary contributor to this rating, with Delta to Atlanta and US Airways to Charlotte feeding 70% of all AVL air travelers to just about every connection bank at these major hubs. Basically, flights every day from Asheville can get you to and from almost anywhere in the world with one easy connection. Daily flights to Chicago on United also contribute, as well as seasonal flights to Detroit, LaGuardia and Newark.

We also have a great partnership with Allegiant Travel Company, who offers low-cost non-stop flights to four Florida destinations. This works very well for our region, because several of our top-ten destination cities are in Florida – and conversely, a very high percentage of visitors to western North Carolina are from Florida.

Airport management is in routine communication with airline planners. We advocate for new routes and services for our customers – routes that make sense, and that could be profitable for airlines. This is ongoing, diligent work. But today we are reflecting, and it is great perspective to understand where we rank with our air service. And that’s at the top.

Airlines continue to provide excellent service from Asheville Regional Airport because travelers are using the flights. Travelers often find a winning proposition in the travel equation at AVL: they can easily get to their destination within the timeframe needed … and prices are often competitive. A good balance has been forged, and the more western North Carolinians use their local airport, the better our options will continue to be.

Feels good to be a leading airport. Let’s work together to stay there. Thanks for checking AVL first for your travel needs.

Asheville Regional Airport highlights local artists in airport gallery

Fall is not only a time of changing leaves and temperatures, but also time to change the canvases and frames hanging in the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) art gallery. From the beginning of October through January 3, 2014 the Art in the Airport program will feature six fresh artists from the western North Carolina region for its 19th exhibit.

Fine photography, abstract paintings and modern pottery are tucked into a gallery open to airport visitors and travelers alike near the center of the airport terminal. The 19th exhibit displays more than 30 pieces of original art by artists who bring a variety of educational backgrounds and different media to the table.

Artist: Hannah Hall

Artist: Hannah Hall (

Hannah Hall recently graduated with a bachelors in studio art from North Greenville University and returned to her hometown of Saluda while she applies to masters’ of fine arts programs. She has displayed her art in the WNC Agricultural Center and been published in the Mountain Laurel. Hannah has eight small ceramic sculptures on display as well as some black and white photographs reminding viewers of simpler times.

Artist: Joe Longobardi

Artist: Joe Longobardi (

Photographer Joe Longobardi has several black and white photographs on display that highlight the current people, scenes and happenings of downtown Asheville. Longobardi has spent the last six years as a professional photographer and has exhibited his work as far as San Francisco, California. Longobardi has been featured in several publications including Our State magazine, The Laurel of Asheville and Mountain Xpress.

Artist: Zaire Kacz

Artist: Zaire Kacz (

Zaire Kacz got her start as a professional fashion photographer in Miami, Florida, and her work has been featured in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar. The Venezuela native decided to move to Asheville and used her experience to become a professional artist. Her most recent series, Reborn, highlights dancers from the Terpsicorps’ Theater of Dance and served as the inspiration for a ballet.

Artist: Harper Leich

Artist: Harper Leich (

Harper Leich moved to Asheville in 2004 to join the Asheville Mural Project after graduating from Denison University with a B.F.A. and completing an internship with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Her artwork is inspired by photographs she conceptualizes and takes of friends before turning them into large oil on canvas portraits. North Carolina Mountains and fall leaves serve as backdrops to some of her earthy-toned artwork with bright pops of color and a futuristic playfulness.

Artist: John Haldane

Artist: John Haldane (

North Carolina landscapes inspire another featured photographer, John Haldane, who brings some of the fall season and Asheville sights into the airport with his photographs on canvas. Scenes from the Blue Ridge Mountains, Linville River and Asheville’s city hall can be found in a gallery space near baggage claim. Haldane’s images have been published in several local magazines including The Scenic, The Laurel of Asheville and Costco’s magazine.

Artist: Dawn Behling

Artist: Dawn Behling (

Artist Dawn Behling has a collection of work inspired by nature that incorporates imagery from ocean life, trees and plants within her pieces. She layers textured materials and uses various techniques including screen printing and painting to create unique pieces. Behling studied textiles and weaving while earning her B.F.A. from East Carolina University and continued her education to receive a M.F.A. from Western Carolina University.

“The Art in the Airport program continues to grow and allows us to highlight regional artists,” said Tina Kinsey, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at AVL. “We are glad these artists are eager to share their artwork with the thousands of travelers through AVL each week so they get a better sense of the culture and beauty of western North Carolina.”

The exhibit is open to all guests and located outside the security checkpoint. Pieces can be purchased from the gallery by emailing

Artists who reside in any of the eleven counties within AVL’s primary service market may apply for acceptance into upcoming exhibits. An advisory committee, made up of regional artists, participates in the selection process. Details about the program, including application instructions, can be found on the airport’s website at

Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority welcomes new board member

The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority (GARAA) is pleased to announce the addition of a new board member, Carol Peterson. Peterson was appointed by the Buncombe County Commission to fill a vacant seat on the board, and attended her first board meeting on October 11, 2013.Carol Peterson

Peterson received her master’s in Education Administration at University of Tennessee after graduating with a B.S. in Education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She also has taken advanced studies in school administration at Western Carolina University. She spent 30 years serving the students of Asheville and Buncombe Counties through Asheville City Schools. In the community, she served on numerous political and non-profit boards including the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Review, Riverfront Redevelopment Board and United Way Board. Peterson is a former member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, where she focused on building jobs and supporting local businesses. As a Buncombe County native, she plays an active role in the agricultural community there with her husband, Bruce.

“We are looking forward to having Carol serve as the newest member of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board,” said Dave Hillier, GARAA chairman. “Her extensive experience in the community will be of great value as we continue to ensure that Asheville Regional Airport is successful and an important cornerstone organization for the region.”

The GARAA is also served by Bob Roberts, Regional Executive Vice-President of First Citizens Bank & Trust Company and GARAA Vice-Chair; K. Ray Bailey, former president of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and former Buncombe County Commissioner; Jeffrey Piccirillo, hospitality industry executive; Andrew Tate, President & CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development; and Doug Tate, partner at McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A..

Serving Up a Slice of PIE

Today we are thrilled to announce brand new service on Allegiant from Asheville Regional Airport to the Tampa Bay area — St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, to be exact. The new flights will begin in June and will operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, giving Western North Carolina travelers the perfect opportunity to take a short flight (about an hour and a half) to a long weekend (Thursday to Tuesday, anyone?) in the beautiful gulf coast of Florida (yes, please). (more…)

Top Winter Destinations – Staff Picks (Part Two)

With 40 days of winter remaining, we decided it was time to share part two of our staff’s favorite winter destination choices.

Winter Park, Colorado

Winter Park, Colorado

From skiing and camping to elk and ram viewing, Winter Park is a beautiful, especially during the season whose name it bears, and it comes recommended highly by David, one of our staff members. Winter Park, dubbed “Colorado’s favorite playground,” is situated between Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapahoe National Forest, and is about an hour and fifteen minutes from downtown Denver.

Learn more: Check out the Winter Park visitor site to plan your trip.

How to get there: You can fly from Asheville (AVL) to Denver (DEN) with just one stop on Delta or US Airways, then rent a car, take a train, hop a bus, or grab a shuttle to Winter Park.




When making a travel bucket list, this destination is often top-of-mind — and for good reason, according to Rita: “Famous sites to see like the Big Island Volcano, warm weather to sunbathe or to snorkel in the crystal blue ocean, and unique events to attend like a traditional Hawaiian Luau — what better way to enjoy the winter than in the warm sunshine!” We all know about the tropical climate and the laid back atmosphere, but here are a few things you might not know about Hawaii:

  • Hawaii isn’t the smallest state – it’s the 4th smallest, after Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island
  • Billboards are not allowed in the state of Hawaii
  • Hawaii boasts 750 miles of coastline, giving the 4th most (only Alaska, California, and Florida have more)

Ready to book your trip yet? We can help:

Learn more: Everything you could want to know about the 50th state can be found at the official tourism website.

How to get there: You can get there with just a stop or two from Asheville Regional Airport. Try United or US Airways from AVL to Honolulu (HNL).


Charleston, SC

Charleston, South Carolina

An excellent weekend getaway, Charleston offers beaches, history, nightlife, dining, shopping and a whole lot of charm. AVL staffer Ethel says “It is another world… I just relax when I arrive there. I have been there in spring, summer and fall. I wish that I could go there in the winter because I have heard that they have neat Christmas events like the parade of boats.” The average temperatures in February reach nearly 63 degrees, which means a stroll on the beach or through the streets of downtown can be very enjoyable. Many people drive to Charleston from the Asheville area, but flying is an option too with a quick stop in Charlotte (on US Airways).

Learn more: Need some ideas for your trip? Try starting here.

How to get there: Book your getaway from AVL to CHS on US Airways.


Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Jeff’s favorite winter destination is Playa Del Carmen, Mexico — just south of Cancun in the Mayan Riviera. “The hotel property we stay at is steeped in Mayan culture and located at Xcaret, so we’ll spend one full day at the park.” The great thing about this destination is that it can be as relaxed or action-packed as you want to make it — it’s your vacation, after all!

Learn more: Get all the details for your trip south of the border:

How to get there: From Asheville, fly into Cancun (CUN) or Cozumel (CZM) on Delta or US Airways with just one stop, then grab a cab or shuttle to your hotel.

That’s a wrap for our Top Winter Destinations series. Enjoy your travels, and remember to check AVL first!



Top Winter Destinations – Staff Picks (Part One)

Now that winter is officially upon us — and the world hasn’t ended yet! — we thought we’d kick off the season by sharing some of airport staff’s favorite winter travel destinations. From Operations to Guest Services, from Custodial to Information Technology, everyone here at AVL has a favorite place to visit when winter rolls around. In fact, we have so many favorites, we’re making this a three-part series. So sit back, relax, and unleash your imagination as you explore round one of our favorite destinations.

Cancun, Mexico

Kellie is a fan of the warm, tropical environment of Cancun, Mexico. “It warms these old bones!” she said. In fact, Mexico is the 10th most visited country in the world for tourism and Cancun sees 3 million visitors a year. From beaches and water sports to Mayan cultural attractions and nightlife, Cancun is a great place to kick back and relax in the sun.

Learn more: Check out the official Cancun travel site to plan your trip.

How to get there: You can fly from Asheville (AVL) to Cancun (CUN) with just one stop on Delta or US Airways.


Banff, Canada

“Wonderful winter community and skiing” make Banff a top choice for Lew. It certainly takes a fearless leader to choose such a cool climate for winter travel, but he’s not alone. The small town of 7,500 residents is nestled in Banff National Park, which welcomes 4 million visitors each year. Notably the highest town in Canada in terms of elevation, Banff boasts a subarctic climate and, conveniently, hot springs — ideal for warming up after a day on the slopes.

Learn more: The town of Banff website offers a nice list of winter activities for the whole family, including ice diving and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

How to get there: The nearest airport to Banff is Calgary (YYC), and you can get there with one stop from Asheville on United. After that, your best bet is to rent a car to drive the scenic 75 miles to Banff.


Orlando, Florida

This is one of the top destinations for Asheville travelers, including AVL employee Ellen. Her favorite spots are Sea World and Busch Gardens (in Tampa), which she visited last January. “It’s nice to visit the parks in January when they’re not quite as crowded, since it’s after the holidays and before school vacation time,” she said. “The temperature was also perfect to walk around.” In addition to the major theme parks, you might also enjoy a trip to the beach, Cape Canaveral, or even Ocala National Forest, all of which are within an hour’s drive.

Learn more: Need some ideas for your trip? Try starting here.

How to get there: This one’s easy – you can fly non-stop from Asheville to Orlando (SFB) on Allegiant, or with one stop (MCO) on Delta or US Airways.


Jackson Hole, Wyoming

“The Grand Teton Mountain Range, the beauty of the area, Yellowstone National Park, and the wildlife,” all work together to make this a favorite destination for Lana. Jackson Hole features plenty of opportunity for trail rides and outdoor adventure (including skiing in the winter), and it also offers arts and culture in the form of a playhouse, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and even a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum, which are good options when the average winter highs reach just over 28 degrees.

Learn more: Buck up on your Wyoming knowledge by exploring the Chamber of Commerce site for visitors.

How to get there: From Asheville, fly into Jackson Hole (JAC) on United with just one stop, or if you prefer a couple breaks on your journey westward, Delta has just what you’re looking for.

Well, that’s it for part one of our Top Winter Destinations series. Now we’d love to hear from you – where are your favorite places to visit when the mercury dips to its annual lows? Share your response in the comments below!

Seven Ways to Simplify Your Holiday Travel Experience

Back in October or November, when you booked your airline ticket for the holidays, you may have had visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in your head — or maybe it was just a vision of being with family or friends — but as seasoned travelers will attest, buying the ticket is only the first step to a successful trip. Between now and the moment the wheels leave the runway, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of a joyous holiday flight.

  1. Pack intelligently. This starts with knowing the TSA screening process at the airport, which requires removing the laptop computer and zip-top bag of liquids and gels from your carry-on bag at the screening checkpoint. You should also pack essential items (keys, prescription medication, and irreplaceable items) in your carry-on bag, in case your checked luggage doesn’t make it to your destination at the same time you do.

    Tactical Tip: Pack for the screening process by leaving room in an easily-accessible compartment for your laptop and liquids. This will save precious time in the screening line, and will earn favor with fellow travelers in line behind you. Bonus Tip: If you’re tight on space in that liquids/gels bag, make sure it’s a true 1-quart sized zip-top bag, and not a sandwich sized baggie — it makes a world of difference.

  2. Don’t pre-wrap gifts. A common misconception is that one way to simplify your holiday travel is to wrap all those presents for nieces and nephews ahead of time. Unfortunately, this just means TSA crew members have to unwrap presents they don’t even get to keep.

    Tactical Tip: Pack a small roll of wrapping paper and scotch tape in your bag. However, unless you’re checking that bag, plan to buy or borrow scissors when you reach your destination.

  3. Do your own flight check. There’s nothing like arriving at the airport with plenty of time to spare, only to find out your flight has been cancelled. You can easily avoid this pitfall by checking your flight status before you leave for the airport. However, if your flight has a delayed status, those delays can sometimes be fixed and you’ll want to be at your gate in time to board the flight.

    Tactical Tip: Checking your flight status directly with your airline will give you the most up-to-date information. And, considering how many people are flying near the holidays, you’ll likely save yourself time and frustration checking your flight status online with your airline, as opposed to calling the 800 number.

  4. Leave a little extra time on the clock. What we mean is, don’t wait until the last possible minute to leave for the airport. While you don’t want to get there five hours early, you also want to have plenty of time to park, check in, check your bags if necessary, and get through security and to your gate.

    Tactical Tip: Give yourself the gift of an extra thirty minutes — even an hour — when you plan what time you’ll leave for the airport. You’ll experience reduced stress levels, which means you’ll be better equipped to cope with any hiccups you might experience with traffic or other issues. Plus, you’ll have some quiet time to yourself once you’re at your gate — time you could use to plan your goals for next year, enjoy a cup of coffee, or catch up on e-mail.

  5. Prepare your documents. Have your boarding pass and ID (driver’s license or passport) ready before you enter the TSA screening checkpoint. TSA will always ask to see these documents, and you can speed your check in process by having them out before they ask.

    Tactical Tip: Keep these items in the most accessible pocket of your carry-on, and tuck them right back into it after you receive them back from TSA to ensure they don’t get lost.

  6. Know your zone. Most airlines board flights by calling zone or row numbers. Take a moment to study your boarding pass and know your zone. Then, wait for your zone to be called to board the flight.

    Tactical Tip: A lot of research has gone into determining the fastest way to fill a plane with passengers, so even though you’re itching to get on board as soon as possible so that flight can get off the ground, waiting for your section to be called is actually more efficient than rushing to sneak on with another zone.

  7. Know your resources. As 16th Century poet Miguel de Cervantes put it, “The man who is prepared has his battle half fought.” And while we like to think travel isn’t quite like a battle, there are ways in which you can prepare yourself for victory over potential challenges, including making a list of resources you might need.

    Tactical Tip: Make a “cheat sheet” with phone numbers and website addresses for your airline, flight-tracking tools, ground transportation options, and the times and flight numbers of flights that are scheduled after yours (in case you need to find yourself a seat on another flight). In fact, you can find a lot of this information on our website. If you’re a Twitter user, follow your airline and airport — some airlines are able to respond to requests for help more quickly via Twitter than phone.

Five things that haunt air travelers (and how to survive them!)

It’s no surprise that air travel is full of surprises. Often these are happy surprises — a flight departs early, an airport employee is handing out free cookies, or you get the last open seat on an earlier flight. But sometimes the surprises are not so lovely. In fact, some travel concerns haunt even the most seasoned passengers.

So, just in time for Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of five things that haunt air travelers, and what you can do to solve (or avoid!) these ghoulish, if not exactly “paranormal,” problems.

1. Losing your driver’s license or passport before a flight

Murphy’s Law dictates that anything that can go wrong most certainly will, and for some people, this law is most strictly enforced right before an upcoming flight. In this case the first thing you should do is panic relax. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), just because your ID is missing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be allowed to fly. In fact, if you’re able to provide some additional information to the TSA, they may be able to verify your identity in another way (like through publicly available databases). If this is your life right now, take a look at the TSA website for more info on acceptable identification.

2. Caught in traffic before a flight

“Hi, I’m calling because I’m on I-26 and I’m stuck in traffic. My plane leaves in 20 minutes, but I’ll be there in 15. Please tell them to hold the plane!”

Amazingly, we’ve heard this plea more times than we can count, and unfortunately the response must always be, “I’m sorry, but the airline won’t hold the plane. When you get here, you’ll need to try to get on the next available flight.”

While we don’t have any tips for extricating yourself from a traffic jam, this is a great time to emphasize the airlines’ rules for catching a plane, and the very first one is that you must be checked in no later than 30 minutes before the flight time (and for some airlines, it’s even earlier). Checking in online whenever possible is one way to help prevent a last minute hang-up. Additionally, airplane boarding usually closes about a quarter of an hour before the flight time, so it’s important to be at your gate and ready to board with ample time to spare.

A common misconception is that because Asheville Regional Airport is a small airport, and it generally doesn’t take long to get through the TSA screening checkpoint, it’s not necessary to arrive more than 20 or 30 minutes before the flight. The truth is, it is always a good idea to give yourself plenty (and we do mean plenty) of extra time. Plus, it makes travel a lot less stressful when you don’t have to rush to catch your flight.

3. Setting off the TSA metal detector

Believe us when we say we know the TSA screening checkpoint often feels like more of a trick than a treat, but did you know the TSA agents at AVL are rated more highly than at comparable airports across the U.S.? Yeah, we’re fortunate to have some of the best TSA folks around. But we digress.

The point is, one of the most frequently asked questions we hear is about getting through TSA when you’ve got various metal implants or internal medical devices, such as screws in your bones, plates in your head, or even a pacemaker. Not to worry — our TSA agents could make even Frankenstein a happy customer. If you’ve got any kind of metal in or on your person, all you need to do is have a chat with a TSA agent before you begin the screening process so they can take special precautions to make sure you’re screened appropriately.

As for all the other ways you could set off the metal detector, such as with a belt, earrings, necklace, or steel-toed boots, our recommendation is to leave the metal at home or in your bags. This will make the screening process a little easier for everyone!

4. Losing your liquids at TSA

The 3-1-1 rule for liquids and gels has been in effect since August of 2006, but we still see bottles of hairspray and jars of sauce being tossed out like it’s some kind of witch’s brew. The TSA agents aren’t trying to be jack-o-lanterns, they’re just trying to do their job and keep the skies safe, and sometimes that means it’s better to be safe than sorry. To recap, the 3-1-1 rule states that all liquids and gels in carry-on bags must be 3.4 ounces or less each, and they must all fit into a single (1) one-quart-sized plastic bag. So next time you travel, support your favorite household supplies manufacturer and buy a box of quart-size bags for your lotions, potions and toothpaste.

5. Lost luggage

Unfortunately, this is probably one of the most common evils of air travel, and can certainly cause a fright. The good news is that we have a couple tips to help battle this particular demon.

  • When booking flights with a connection, be sure to leave a large window of time (no less than an hour if you can help it) between the connecting flights. Remember those movie scenes where the main character runs a record-setting pace from one terminal to another in a mad dash to catch their next flight and arrives at the gate just after the door closes? Well, that’s essentially what your bags do each time you have a connecting flight, and the more time you give them to reach the next plane, the better your chances of being able to pick them up on time at your final destination.
  • Always, always, always pack medication, car and house keys, and irreplaceable items in your carry-on bag. And, if certain items won’t fit, you might consider shipping them ahead of time to your destination.
  • Label all your checked bags with your name, address, phone number, e-mail, CB radio handle, Twitter name, ESP wavelength — you get the idea. If your bag does get lost, you want the bag handlers to be able to easily identify which one is yours.
  • If you find yourself bag-less at the end of a journey, don’t leave the airport before filing a lost bag claim with the airline. This claim ticket allows you to follow up on your bag if it still hasn’t arrived the next day or so.
  • Finally, keep in mind that bags that are checked “planeside” — i.e. you slap a tag on your bag and hand it over right before you step onto the plane — need to be picked up planeside when you land.

Amazingly, nearly 30,000 flights operate each day in the United States alone. This amounts to about 1.76 million passengers every day, most of whom fly easily to their destinations without any problems.  Of course, as with many things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and we hope these travel tips will help you avoid a haunting experience the next time you head to the airport!

Historic WWII Aircraft Arrive in Asheville

This week brings a couple of special winged visitors to the Asheville Regional Airport, thanks to an organization called the Collings Foundation and its “Wings of Freedom Tour.” Arriving on the AVL runway today around lunch time will be a B-24 Liberation and a B-17 Flying Fortress, both fully-restored WWII aircraft that flew hundreds of missions in the 1940s. The Wings of Freedom Tour offers the public a chance to come and see the warbirds in person, and to purchase tickets to take a walk-through tour or even a flight on one these historic planes.


The Wings of Freedom Tour exists to honor the veterans who have served in the military and who have fought for our freedoms, and to educate the public about our national history. The tour has been operating for more than 20 years, making more than 2,600 visits to airports across the country.

To learn more about touring the aircraft or scheduling your own flight aboard them, visit

The Beginnings of Presidential Flight

It’s no secret that U.S. presidents and vice presidents have spent their fair share of time in Western North Carolina, many of whom have arrived by air into our fair region. Over the years, Asheville Regional Airport has welcomed a number of White House occupants (not to mention White House hopefuls), including last autumn’s visit by President Obama. In fact, one of our favorite sights is the massive Air Force One 747 parked on the AVL ramp.

Air Force One

Air Force One parked at AVL (October, 2011)

It was this sight that got us thinking about the history of Air Force One, and it just so happens that today is the 102nd anniversary of the first presidential flight. On October 11, 1910 the spectacle-clad Theodore Roosevelt boarded an early Wright Flyer at Kinloch Field (now Lambert-St. Louis International Airport) during a county fair and took a short flight in view of the crowds. Granted, he was no longer holding office as president (he’d been succeeded by William Howard Taft), but the occasion is in the history books as the first flight by a United States president.

It was the other Roosevelt (Franklin, that is) who first flew in an aircraft while holding down the top job in our nation’s capital. Ever since that time, U.S. presidents have taken to the skies as part of their duty to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,” as the oath of office puts it.

Many different types of aircraft have been used for presidential detail, but it wasn’t until the Reagan administration that the 747 took over the job. In the 1990s, during the George H.W. Bush administration, two VC-25A planes were added to the fleet. Presidents have also flown in Marine One (a Blackhawk or Sea King helicopter), Navy One (a Lockheed Viking), and various other airborne machines.

“An interesting bit of trivia is that if a president was onboard a Cessna 152, that plane — or any other plane occupied by the president — would be given the call sign ‘Air Force One,’” said Jeff Augram, Chief of Asheville Regional Airport Department of Public Safety. “And, it’s not designated as ‘Air Force One’ until the president is on board.” Jeff has worked with both the Air Force and the Secret Service on many of these high profile visits, and has even been on board a presidential 757 aircraft.

Air travel has changed (and improved!) a lot in the last 100 years, and presidential planes are no exception. To learn more about Air Force One, check out the History Channel’s Inside Air Force One fact sheet, or watch the National Geographic special.