The term "Air Force One" is used to designate any Air Force aircraft carrying the president.
The deranged world of QAnon believers was recently abuzz over so-called "proof" for their cuckoo theory that Donald Trump is still secretly president. After images of President Joe Biden disembarking from an Air Force C-32 plane on February 5— as opposed to the larger VC-25A counterpart which is commonly associated with Air Force One—emerged online, many social media users suggested that this is evidence that Biden is not a legitimate president. They claimed that Biden was flying on a "Fake Air Force One," making the flight proof that Trump was still the president.
Some QAnon believers are claiming the plane Joe Biden flew on yesterday was a fake Air Force One, meaning their view Biden is a fake president is still valid.— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) February 6, 2021
Charlie Ward and Lucy Davis, two of the biggest British QAnon promoters, posted the same fake Air Force One meme today. pic.twitter.com/FxuspcMb7S
However, a simple fact check demonstrates that this QAnon theory, like every theory so far, is nothing more than a load of misinformed crap. "While two large, technologically impressive 747-style Air Force planes (VC-25As) are typically used for Presidential transport, any Air Force plane (regardless of what kind of craft it is) is designated with the call sign 'Air Force One' when it carries the President of the United States," states the fact-checking website, Snopes. Although the plane used for Biden's short hop to Delaware earlier this month was a C-32, which is often used by the vice president, first lady, and members of Cabinet and Congress—colloquially referred to as "Air Force Two"—it has flown many presidents in the past, including Trump.
Many people think that Air Force 1 is this aircraft... pic.twitter.com/3UHy3bvP3L— Dan Kaszeta (@DanKaszeta) February 6, 2021
The term "Air Force 1" applies to any, ANY, US Air Force airplane that has the President of the United States embarked. Air Force 2 is the term for such with the VP embarked.— Dan Kaszeta (@DanKaszeta) February 6, 2021
There's 2 of those VC-25s. These are used most commonly for "Air Force 1" missions and are broadly identical.— Dan Kaszeta (@DanKaszeta) February 6, 2021
There's a handful of C-32A aircraft. These are based on the Boeing 757 airliner. pic.twitter.com/sMWMiXYeJg— Dan Kaszeta (@DanKaszeta) February 6, 2021
These C-32s are routinely used for Air Force 2 missions for the VP. I flew on it several times myself.— Dan Kaszeta (@DanKaszeta) February 6, 2021
According to Reuters, presidents typically use the smaller plane for shorter trips to smaller airports with shorter runways, which could explain why President Biden preferred the C-32 for the 25-minute trip from Washington D.C. to Delaware. And if not seeing Biden aboard the VC-25A is what's been holding Trump supporters back from finally accepting reality, their qualms should've been laid to rest this week when Biden hopped on the "big" Air Force One for the first time as commander in chief.
I’m on my way to Wisconsin for tonight’s CNN Town Hall. See you soon, Milwaukee! pic.twitter.com/7TwheCPqgy— President Biden (@POTUS) February 17, 2021
Speaking to MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin Wednesday about QAnoners' continued reluctance to accept Biden's presidency, NBC News reporter Ben Collins explained that the far-right conspiracy group is in a kind of "holding pattern" at the moment. "You know, they hold on to these little nuggets, they hope in the future there are — they believe right now there are two presidents and this will all get sorted out on March 4th," Collins explained, referring to another baseless theory that Trump will be reinstated on March 4. "But they lose hope along the way. For example, last night when Joe Biden boarded Air Force One, the real one, for the first time, that was a blow."
There, the President is plugged into an exoskeleton that permits him to surveil every household, and to carry out remote black-helicopter landings in areas of social unrest.— Syncopated Politics (@SyncPol) February 17, 2021
A quick look inside AF1... ooops, never mind. pic.twitter.com/SOUCHxNUni— Tom Woo (@AATomwoo) February 17, 2021
"They felt betrayed by this. They thought that Air Force One was still being used by President Trump in secret," said Collins, adding that QAnon supporters will undoubtedly try to explain this away. "This is winding its way through text messages, through churches in the United States, who are preaching sort of the gospel of Q without the QAnon branding, and they are saying March 4th is a big day for them and one of them said today they're halfway through this. They are planning for this to be a year's-long thing."
i wont believe the plane is even real until it produces its original certificate of live birth.— P̵a̵r̵l̵e̵r̵ Pete Evans (@peteevansnot) February 17, 2021
Collins explained that while the good thing about the far-right group is their trust in "the plan" and their disorganization, the nation still has to be on alert for the lone wolves who take this too seriously. "They think that they are saving the world. We have seen lone wolves for 2 1/2 years now, we've seen real criminal acts, murders tied to QAnon. While I don't expect some massive outpouring on March 4th, we have to be on the lookout for desperate QAnon believers in the future," he warned.