U.S. presidents have relied on helicopter transport for more than half a century. Helicopters, for presidents, have gone from being experimental in President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s day, to being essential in the twenty-first century. The hefty, highly sophisticated helicopters are commonly referred to as “White Tops” because, above the unique dark green body, a prominent white stripe covers the top and spreads partway down the sides. The White Tops in the skies over the nation’s capital are routine, but their thunderous noise still commands onlookers’ attention.
Marine One is the call sign of whatever U.S. Marine Corps aircraft is transporting the president, traditionally one of a suite of helicopters operated exclusively by Marine Helicopter Squadron One, known as the HMX-1 Nighthawks. The men and women in this squadron are a select group of highly trained Marine pilots, considered the very best. For decades they have managed takeoffs and landings on the South Lawn with precision.
Learn more about Marine One and the Sikorsky VH-92 from Charles Denyer.