The first President to fly in an aircraft during his terms was President Manuel L. Quezon during his evacuation flight from the Philippines in 1942. Quezon and his family, officials of the Commonwealth government, including Vice-President Sergio Osmeña, flew from the Del Monte field in Bukidnon to Melbourne in Australia.[1]

In the postwar years, Philippine Airlines (PAL) was tasked to provide a presidential aircraft to ferry the President for his state visits. PAL secured “its most modern aircraft and best crew during presidential flights”. In August 1949, a PAL DC-6 plane was designated as President Elpidio Quirino’s presidential plane when he visited Washington, DC. This was the first instance that a Philippine president was able fly across the Pacific by way of an official carrier. In 1952, PAL also carried the president in his official trip to Jakarta, Indonesia.[2]

During President Ramon Magsaysay’s, in 1955, PAL was likewise commissioned to fly the president for his state visit to Washington D.C. in 1955. It was also during this time that PAL, with the government, purchased a new aircraft, the DC-7, an improved version of DC-6B.[3] When President Carlos P. Garcia succeeded Magsaysay in 1957, PAL was still involved in ferrying the president to other countries for his state visits: Japan on December 1, 1958, to Saigon in Vietnam on April 22, 1959, and to Taipei in Taiwan on May 2, 1960. By this time, Garcia used “the biggest and the most luxurious aircraft in the fleet, the British- made turbo- prop Vickers Viscount”.[4] When President Diosdado Macapagal became president in 1961, his presidential plane was a Fokker 29 jetliner, officially called “Common Man”.[5][6] In the 1970’s, PAL, which became a government corporation during Ferdinand E. Marcos’ presidency, provided the “most modern aircraft” for the Marcoses’ official and personal travels.[7] Since 1980, the official presidential aircraft has been a Fokker F-28. Most other nations only use this type of aircraft for military use.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines mandated the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing of the Philippine Air Force to serve as the “sole unit tasked to provide safe, secure and effective air transportation to the President of the Republic of the Philippines, his / her family, visiting Heads of state, and other the local and foreign VVIPs.”[8] Other responsibilities include conducting proficiency training of aircrew and support personnel; performing organizational and field maintenance of aircraft; coordinating of aircraft requirements for presidential flights; providing command and control and communication for presidential flights; providing presidential security augmentation and flight safety and technical officers for VVIP movement locally and abroad.[9]

The fleet is composed of a (1) Fokker F28, (4) Bell 412 helicopters, (3) Sikorsky S- 76 helicopters, (2) Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma helicopters, (1) Sikorsky S- 70-5 Black Hawk, (1) Fokker F-27 Friendships, and a number of Bell UH-1N Twin Hueys.

THE FOKKER F-28

Model: Fokker F-28
Production Period: 1967-1987
Built: 241
Accidents / Crash: 21

THE PRESIDENTIAL FOKKER F-28 JET

Popularly known as F-28 “Fellowship,” the Presidential Fokker F-28 was manufactured by Fokker Aviation BV (now defunct) in The Netherlands. This model came out of the Fokker factory in 1979 and was bought by the Central Bank of the Philippines (CBP) for the use of President Marcos. It was delivered to the Philippines on September 1980, until its ownership was transferred from the CBP to the Office of the President (OP) on December 26, 1995. Finally, it was donated to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in May 2006.

As of March 11, 2011, its total flying time is 5,525 hrs. Its contemporaries are at 10,000 to more than 20,000 hrs. The plane’s last mandatory inspection was a “D” check. This is also known as a Heavy Maintenance visit (HMV). This was a very detailed inspection of the structure, which was done March 2009 in Indonesia. During the inspection in 2009, added works were done such as: the cabin interior was refurbished, seats were newly upholstered, airshow/flight entertainment was installed and the exterior repainted.

PRESIDENTIAL BELL HELICOPTERS

BELL 412
  • There are at present five Bell 412 presidential helicopters
  • All five Bell 412 helicopters were delivered from Bell helicopter Textron Company, USA
  • Two Bell 412 helicopter with tail nos. 1998 and 2000 were delivered on 23 March 1994
  • The other three Bell 412 helicopter with tail nos. 1898, 1986 and 1896 were delivered by the same company on July 3, 1996
  • These Bell 412s were funded by the Common Aviation Unit of the National Government of the Philippines composed of BSP, DBP, GSIS, LBP, PAGCOR and PNB.

On April 7, 2009, a Bell 412 presidential helicopter operated by the Philippine Air Force crashed due to poor visibility brought by bad weather. The eight fatalities in the incident were three Palace officials, three military personnel, and two pilots, all passengers of the Bell 412 presidential helicopter. The wreckage was found on a steep slope within the boundaries of Benguet and Ifugao. The chopper took off from Loakan Airport late Tuesday afternoon was supposed to go to Banaue town in Ifugao province as advance party for President Arroyo’s inspection.[10]

Aside from Press Undersecretary Capadocia, aboard the aircraft were presidential military aide Brig. Gen. Carlos Clet, Undersecretary for Presidential Engagements and Appointments Malou Frostrom, Presidential Management Staff assistant director Perlita Bandayanon, Navy Petty Officer 1 Demy Reyno, and Perez. The pilots were identified as Major Rolando Sacatani and Captain Alvin Alegata.

S-70A Blackhawk HELICOPTER

  • The S-70A Blackhawk presidential helicopter was manufactured by Sikorsky
  • It was delivered on March 7, 1984 from the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of the United States Army
  • It was given by the AFP to the Philippine Air Force for use of the Office of the President
  • Total flying time: 3400 hrs

President Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and Aquino III have used it.


ENDNOTES

[1] Martin W. Bowman, B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the Pacific War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2003), 29-30.

[2] Meynardo P. Mendoza, “Binding the Islands: Air Transport and State Capacity Building in the Philippines, 1946 to 1961,” Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints 61, no. 1 (2013): 77-104.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Diary of Ferdinand E. Marcos, July 4, 1969,” Philippine Diary Project, accessed March 4, 2016, https://philippinediaryproject.wordpress.com/1969/07/04/july-4-1969/.

[6] “Official Week in Review: June 20 – June 26, 2965,” The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, accessed March 4, 2016, https://officialgazette.gov.ph/1965/06/28/official-week-in-review-june-20-june-26-1965/.

[7] Mendoza, “Binding the Islands,” 77-104.

[8] “PAF and PN are Kalayaan Flight,” Presidential Security Group, accessed March 4, 2016, https://www.psg.mil.ph/paf-and-pn-are-kalayaan-flight/.

[9] “250th Presidential Airlift Wing,” Philippine Air Force, accessed March 4, 2016, http://www.paf.mil.ph/aboutus/units/description/250.html.

[10] Sophia Dedace, “Bodies of fatalities in chopper crash all recovered – police,” GMA News Online, April 9, 2009, http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/156256/news/nation/bodies-of-fatalities-in-chopper-crash-all-recovered-police.

[1] Martin W. Bowman, B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the Pacific War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2003), 29-30.

[2] Meynardo P. Mendoza, “Binding the Islands: Air Transport and State Capacity Building in the Philippines, 1946 to 1961”, Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints 61, no. 1 (2013): 77-104.

[3] Meynardo P. Mendoza, “Binding the Islands: Air Transport and State Capacity Building in the Philippines, 1946 to 1961”, Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, Vol. 61 no. 1 (2013): 77–104.

[4] Meynardo P. Mendoza, “Binding the Islands: Air Transport and State Capacity Building in the Philippines, 1946 to 1961”, Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, Vol. 61 no. 1 (2013): 77–104.

[5] “July 4, 1069”, Philippine Diary Project, March 4, 2016, https://philippinediaryproject.wordpress.com/tag/diosdado-macapagal/.

[6] “Official Week in Review: June 20 – June 26, 2965”, The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, March 4, 2016, https://officialgazette.gov.ph/1965/06/28/official-week-in-review-june-20-june-26-1965/.

[7] Meynardo P. Mendoza, “Binding the Islands: Air Transport and State Capacity Building in the Philippines, 1946 to 1961”, Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, Vol. 61 no. 1 (2013): 77–104.

[8] Presidential Security Group, “PAF and PN are Kalayaan Flight”, March 4, 2016, https://www.psg.mil.ph/paf-and-pn-are-kalayaan-flight/.

[9] Philippine Air Force, “250th Presidential Airlift Wing”, March 4, 2016, http://www.paf.mil.ph/aboutus/units/description/250.html.

[10] Sophia Dedace, “Bodies of fatalities in chopper crash all recovered – police,” GMA News Online, April 9, 2009, http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/156256/news/nation/bodies-of-fatalities-in-chopper-crash-all-recovered-police.