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No, Kanye West's Hydrogen-Powered Air Force One Doesn't Exist

Oct. 12, 2018
3 min read
No, Kanye West's Hydrogen-Powered Air Force One Doesn't Exist
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On Thursday, rap mega-star Kanye West visited the White House and spoke with President Donald Trump about a myriad of issues including criminal justice reform, mental health and stop-and-frisk.

During a 10-minute soliloquy, with media present and capturing the entire conversation, West pulled out his phone to show Trump what he should be flying on instead of Air Force One.

"This right here is the iPlane One. It's a hydrogen powered airplane and this is what our president should be flying in," West said.

"Should we get rid of Air Force One?" Trump asked the room.

"We're going to have Apple, an American company, work on this plane," said West.

However, what the rapper wants the president to fly doesn't exist — and likely won't for a long time.

West was referring to industrial designer Shabtai Hirshberg’s 2012 thesis project that imagined the future of Air Travel in 2030. The project contained plans to have high-speed aircraft that can land on water and dock at floating airport terminals.

Image courtesy of Shabtai Hirshberg.

Specifically, West showed Trump the image below, a concept aircraft that's decked out in KLM livery.

Image courtesy of Shabtai Hirshberg.

The aircraft would reach speeds of nearly mach 1 using a "turboprop ultrahigh-bypass hybrid engine" and could fly from Chicago to Paris in less than seven hours.

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Image courtesy of Shabtai Hirshberg.

Hirshberg told The Verge that his designs are "more aspirational than realistic, drawing on 'more advanced propulsion systems and better building materials' than what’s currently possible with our technology." He even pointed out that his concept vehicle isn't powered by hydrogen like West said in his meeting with Trump.

Hydrogen-powered aircraft are a relatively new concept. Only recently did German researchers fly a single passenger in 2016, and another passenger prototype aircraft is scheduled to take its first test flight in 2025.

"If he [President Trump] don't look good, we don't look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest — the flyest planes, the best factories," said West.

West's idea of collaborating with Apple on the new aircraft is also far-fetched. The company has never developed an aircraft — the closest thing it's worked on is its self-driving car project.

And there are already other jets in line to fly the president around — Trump recently signed a $3.9 billion deal for two new Boeing 747-8s that will become Air Force One aircraft in 2024.

While the iPlane One may never take-off, Hirshberg said he would be willing to work toward a new presidential plane.

“I’d be more than happy to collaborate with Kanye West and Apple if they decide to actually take this forward,” Hirshberg said.