How to Become a Flight Attendant on Air Force One

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Use your imagination and you'll probably come up with vivid images of what it must be like to serve cocktails and hot meals to the President of the United States and a congressman or two. Air Force One is literally a force to be reckoned with. At 4,000 square feet, it can be filled with enough jet fuel to take the President from D.C. to Tokyo without a refueling stop. Dig deeper into your fantasy and you may decide that this is a career that you aspire to, so get started on the road to joining the 26-person crew charged with responsibility for getting some of the most important people in the world to and from their destinations safely and well fed.

Things You'll Need

  • College degree
  • Military service
  • Top secret clearance
  • Keep your nose clean. Strive to glide through your high school and college years as uneventfully as possible so you don't incur the kinds of blemishes for youthful indiscretions that could keep you from getting a top security clearance.

  • Get a college degree. Major in any subject you like, but find time to join the Air Force ROTC unit on your university campus to begin preparing yourself for the coveted job you seek to snare in the future. If your budget allows, learn to fly.

  • Enlist in the Air Force immediately after college and find a way to get a duty assignment at Andrews Air Force Base where staff for Air Force One, as well as some of the 16+ luxury planes owned by the government to shuttle dignitaries around the globe, are headquartered. It's possible to land a flight attendant job while serving on another base, but the odds of being recruited for Air Force One grow slimmer if you're not at Andrews. Of the 150 members of the rotating crew, only 70 are stationed elsewhere.

  • Enroll in all of the safety and survival classes available to you and don't skimp on the culinary arts credentials. It will help if you're the multi-tasking type so you can juggle menu planning, shopping and meal prep at 37,000 feet after loading luggage while dressed in a crisp suit. You'll also handle the cleanup and a variety of other tasks.

  • Stay focused on your mission. The 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews has mounted frequent recruiting campaigns to find folks willing to serve on the Air Force One crew. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Vice President Dick Cheney even made recruitment videos, so visit the Andrews website frequently and keep up with 89th Airlift Wing news.

  • Have no expectations about the rewards you'll receive if you make the Air Force One crew. The pay structure begins at around $40K to start. In return, you'll be expected to put in 11-hour days. That stated, if you're the adventurous type and don't care what you'll have to do to get a chance to serve the president, this gig could be right up your alley. You'll even get hazard pay for flying into trouble spots like Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Expect high-level training via the military's specialized programs. Once you're on the fast track, you'll receive extensive exposure to an altitude trainer, take the 5-week intensive course on evacuation, combat survival, enemy evasion, safety and rescue tasks on land and water. You'll spend additional time taking culinary classes with an emphasis on how to fix gourmet meals at 37,000 feet in less than optimal space.

  • Apply for an entry-level job as an Air Force flight attendant by contacting the 932nd company at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. This job is a stepping stone to Air Force One should you not be able to maneuver your way to Andrews. Transfer to Scott and they'll help you get your top security clearance and get you the training you need to position you for an Air Force One crew opening. While you await that call, you will be required to fly at least 10 days every 3 months as a member of the 932nd. Call Scott AFB at (618) 229-7173 or toll free (800) 257-1212 to get more information on opportunities at this base.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't let your age stop you from going after a flight attendant's job on Air Force One. Men and women as young as 23 are frequently chosen for openings, so make yourself a prime candidate for a slot.

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  • Photo Credit © Boeing Aircraft Company
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