VVIP and head of state aircraft are sensitive places, and pictures from inside the confines of the USMC's VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns are scarce, but they do exist. We've assembled a collection of these photos to show you what life is life skirting the skyline in the President's point-to-point vehicles of choice.
There is no denying that the Presidential helicopter fleet is old. The VH-3D Sea Kings that have served for many decades are especially in need of a replacement, but as you can see in some of the historical pictures at the bottom of this post, their age is partially their charm. These aircraft are flown by Marine Helicopter Squadron HMX-1 out of Quantico, VA as well as the newer and smaller VH-60N White Hawks. The whole fleet is stated to be replaced with the Sikorsky VH-92 in the coming decade.
These highly modified military helicopters are called "White Tops" after their white upper accents that denote their Presidential airlift mission (or "Marine One" when the POTUS is onboard). Also of note is that whether the President is flying on a VH-3D or a VH-60N, he has a designated 'throne chair' embossed with the Presidential Seal.
President Obama aboard HMX-1's Sikorsky VH-3D Sea Kings:
At the time, the first VH-3s were also known by the designation of "HSS-2Z." The type has been flying the President for over 50 years, with the current VH-3D model introduced in 1976.
Accommodations were far from luxurious by VH-3 standards. Both the Army and Marines provided Presidential airlift support well into the 1960s:
President Eisenhower introduced helicopter airlift to the White House with the initial use of a UASF H-13J, a commercial VIP version of the popular Bell 47:
Photos via US Government/White House/Presidential Libraries
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com