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Attempted Republican Coup: Ready, Aim, Misfire

Air Force One: On the Real Thing, No Pods And No Parachutes

The Ultimate Hijack

Campaign Fundraising Hearings: Connect The Dots

Cohen Gets One Right

Camp For Show, Putt For Dough

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Air Force One: On the Real Thing, No Pods and No Parachutes

By J.F.O. McAllister

Time cover

(TIME, July 28) -- No one expects an action picture to be altogether believable, but for anyone who has actually flown on the eponymous aircraft, Air Force One seems a bit less authentic than Attack of the Crab Monsters. To their credit, the filmmakers do not pretend that terrorists masquerading as Russian cameramen could simply stroll onto the President's plane; the script calls for a rogue Secret Service agent to give them their security clearances. Fine--except that even the mechanics on Air Force One work on a buddy system, one keeping tabs on the other. So presumably you need at least two rogue agents. On the plane itself, there are dozens of agents and members of the Air Force, deployed so that no one can leave the press area unnoticed. Onscreen, the Secret Service is out of position, and the Air Force personnel have disappeared completely. The real plane has fancy flares and infrared devices to deter a missile attack--much more effective than the chaff, intended to confuse radar, used in the movie.

The filmmakers get a lot of small details right, like the look of the onboard conference room (President Clinton arranged a tour for Harrison Ford and director Wolfgang Petersen), but much else is imaginary. That really cool presidential escape pod? The real plane has nothing like it. The parachute deck from which passengers leap to safety? Air Force One doesn't have such a deck. It doesn't even have parachutes--they can't work in a 747's slipstream. The gun locker right near the press area? No way. But who knows--maybe an escape pod is in Bill Clinton's future. A White House aide is not entirely joking when he says the Air Force will want to install every gizmo portrayed in the movie "by the end of the week."