IKE BECOMES FIRST POTUS TO RIDE IN A CHOPPER
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Sixty years ago today, July 12, 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first president of the United States to ride in a helicopter during his term of office.
Previously, the Secret Service had banned the use of helicopters for presidents due to safety concerns, but, according to Roger Connor, their attitude changed after the Soviet Union's nuclear capability "reached the point where any evacuation of the president by roads could not be guaranteed."
President Eisenhower was assigned to Bell's Ranger H-13J. a two passenger aircraft with a range of 150 miles and a top speed of 100 mph. The $40,000 helicopter had a "sterling" safety record.
Today, the President of the United States rides on Marine One. Although that is the call sign of any USMC aircraft carrying the president, it usually refers to Marine Helicopter Squadron One HMX-1 Nighthawks.
"Ike and the First Presidential Helicopters," by Roger Cannon, Smithsonian National Aeronautics and Space Museum, www.airandspace.si.edu/