How to Do It: Be a Presidential Plane Spotter

Want to track the movements of your president’s plane? Here’s how to do it.

Related to this article: Caught in the Net: Tunisias First Lady For additional Web extras from the January/February 2008 issue of FP, click here.

Heads of state have always liked to travel in style. Former Zairian President Mobuto Sese Seko, for instance, leased himself a supersonic Concorde to get around in the late 1980s and early 1990s. President George W. Bush flies around the world in two Boeing 747s. And Saudi Arabias King Abdullah travels in a notoriously plush jumbo jet.

But how did a group of enterprising Tunisian bloggers find out just where their presidents plane was flyingand when? A few online tools make it simple. Web sites run by plane-spotting hobbyists, such as Airliners.net, allow users to search for photos of aircrafts, accompanied by the date and the location where the photo was taken.

Some simple information can be helpful when tracking a presidents plane, including the type of aircraft, who operates it, the planes tail number, and its CN or construction number, essentially a serial number unique to each aircraft. To get you started, FP has compiled this information for the airplanes of 20 heads of state, listed below, along with links to photos of the leaders high-flying homes.

Michelle Bachelet
President of Chile
Type of plane: Boeing 737
Operated by: Chilean Air Force
Tail number: 921
CN: 28866/2929
View the plane

Hu Jintao
President of the Peoples Republic of China
Type of plane: Boeing 747
Operated by: Air China
Tail number: B-2472
CN: 30158/1243
View the plane

lvaro Uribe
President of Colombia
Type of plane: Boeing 737
Operated by: Colombian Air Force
Tail number: FAC-0001
CN: 29272/323
View the plane

Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Type of Plane: Boeing 747
Operated by: Air India
Tail number: VT-EGC
CN: 21995/434
View the plane

Jalal Talabani
President of Iraq
Type of plane: Boeing 767
Operated by: Iraqi Airways
Tail number: J2-KCN
CN: 22526/92
View the plane

Yasuo Fukuda
Prime Minister of Japan
Type of plane: Two Boeing 747s
Operated by: Japan Air Self Defense Force
Tail number: 20-1101, 20-1102
CN: 816/24730
View the plane

Abdullah II
King of Jordan
Type of plane: Airbus A340-211
Operated by: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Tail number: JY-ABH
CN: 009
View the plane

Nursultan Nazarbayev
President of Kazakhstan
Type of Plane: Boeing 767
Operated by: Kazakh Government
Tail number: UN-B6701
CN: 32954/861
View the plane

Filipe Caldern
President of Mexico
Type of plane: Boeing 757
Operated by: Mexican Air Force
Tail number: XC-UJM
CN: 22690/151
View the plane

Vladimir Voronin
President of Moldova
Type of plane: Yakovlev Yak-40
Operated by: Air Moldova
Tail number: ER-YGD
CN: 9831458
View the plane

Qaboos bin Said
Sultan of Oman
Type of Plane: Boeing 747
Operated by: Oman Royal Flight
Tail number: A40-SO
CN: 21785/405
View the plane

Pervez Musharraf
President of Pakistan
Type of plane: Airbus A310-308
Operated by: Pakistan International Airlines
Tail number: AP-BEQ
CN: 656
View the plane

Vladimir Putin
President of Russia
Type of plane: Ilyusin II-96-300
Operated by: Russia State Transport Company
Tail number: RA-96012
CN: 74393201009
View the plane

King Abdullah
King of Saudi Arabia
Type of plane: Boeing 747
Operated by: Saudi Arabia Royal Flight
Tail number: HZ-HM1A
CN: 23070/592
View the plane

Traian Basescu
President of Romania
Type of plane: Boeing 707
Operated by: Romanian Government
Tail number: YR-ABB
CN: 20804/883
View the plane

Thabo Mbeki
President of South Africa
Type of plane: Boeing 737
Operated by: South African Air Force
Tail number: ZS-RSA
CN: 32627/826
View the plane

Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
President of Tunisia
Type of plane: Boeing 737
Operated by: Tunisian Air Force
Tail number: T8-100
CN: 29149/348
View the plane

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Prime Minister of Turkey
Type of plane: Airbus A319-115X
Operated by: Turkish Government
Tail number: TC-ANA
CN: 1002
View the plane

George W. Bush
President of the United States
Type of plane: Two Boeing 747s
Operated by: U.S. Air Force
Tail numbers: 82-8000, 92-9000
CN: 23824/679
View the plane

Hugo Chvez
President of Venezuela
Type of plane: Airbus 319
Operated by: Venezuelan Air Force
Tail number: 0001
CN: 1468
View the plane

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