(x) Air Force One font - probably lettering, various alternatives {gang}

The font used on Air Force One is usually said to be Palatino (for example, http://typophile.com/node/19363), but it doesn't really look like Palatino to me. For instance, the serifs in Palatino are flat vertical or horizontal lines, while the serifs in the AF1 font are at a 45 degree angle (except in the arms of the E and F) and look like arrowheads. Is it a custom US government version of Palatino, or is it some other font completely?

The attachment is a portion of the full photo, which can be found at http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/021126-O-9999G-023.jpg


I was watching a History Channel documentary on Air Force One and they stated that Jackie O picked out Caslon font for Air Force one because it was the font used on Declaration of Independence.

"the font used on Declaration of Independence."

Sure looked hand written to me :-)

"Sure looked hand written to me :-)"


I tried the Serif Guide too and a bunch of Caslon versions came up among the 64 fonts that had these 'structural' forms, but the Caslon R's all have a slight arch to them where they connect to the counter (and many of them have a different C). It seems quite likely to me that this lettering was not made using a font, considering what it is being used on, so anything we suggest would just be a way to make something similar. I agree with Lex's pick, and also Oldstyle No.2, which may have been the typeface that Binney Old Style was based on.

- Mike Yanega

You'd think the guy who formally penned the Declaration (Timothy Matlack according to Wikipedia) would've at least been a little more diligent in his leading to line-length ratio and perhaps his margins too.

Maybe that was the fashion of the time, I wouldn't know. I just think it looks rather unofficial, not to mention, painful to read.

also, to get back on topic, I think whatever this typeface is it looks like it was squooshed vertically rather than stretched horizontally considering how thin the horizontal strokes are.

And here's a fairly straight on picture cropped down to just the type. Of decent size as well.

Here is a comparison of the original image from Andrew's version above (shrunk slightly), with Binney Old Style, Monotype Old Style, and Old Style No. 7, since I had these fonts handy. They have all been widened (Binney to 125%, and the others to 150%) and had widened tracking applied.

None of the three is an exact match, but any of them might fool a casual observer (not a Typophile).

- Mike Yanega

I think it's Caslon. the Ameican government has a great tradition with Caslon. (The declaration of independence is set in Caslon).



That 'R' is very Goudyesque.

- Lex

Engravure is really close. But then Jason is right about the lower right of the N.

I ran Mike Yanega's helpful Serif ID Guide on this, and it came up with a few options. Binny Old Style, slightly stretched might do it.

- Lex

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. All are very close, and Americana would be so apposite. Unfortunately, none of the pictures I can find have a straight-on view, and given the effect of scaling up the letters to where they can be stenciled or handpainted on the fuselage, it's probably impossible to tell for sure from a photo.

An interesting pop culture side note: clothing designer Marc Ecko recently posted a video of himself tagging Air Force One. But the video was revealed to be an elaborate hoax. The first clue: the typeface on the fuselage isn't quite right! (Apparently Ecko rented a jet and painted it to resemble the Presidential plane.) There are other clues that are more obvious to airplane geeks. The video is done well and it's worth watching if you can appreciate a craven PR stunt.