WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — National Museum of the United States Air Force visitors will have the unique opportunity of observing Presidents Day by viewing presidential aircraft and interacting with various Air Force One subject-matter experts on Monday, Feb. 19.
Located in the museum’s fourth building, the Presidential Gallery features 10 historical aircraft representing more than 70 years of dedicated presidential service. Visitors can walk through four of the aircraft, including those that carried U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt through Bill Clinton.
Air Force One subject-matter experts, including a retired pilot, former crew chief and other support crew, will be on-hand in the Presidential Gallery from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. to share their experiences and answer questions as part of the museum’s Plane Talks series.
Presidential aircraft featured at the museum include the VC-54C Sacred Cow, which was first used by President Roosevelt in 1945. The aircraft features a one-of-a-kind battery-powered elevator that was installed at the rear of the aircraft so that Roosevelt could board it easily while in his wheelchair. This aircraft was also the location where President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act on July 26, 1947, establishing the Air Force as an independent service. The pen used by Truman to sign the Act is displayed nearby.
Another popular presidential aircraft on display is the VC-118, which was the second aircraft built specifically to transport the President. A military version of the Douglas DC-6 commercial airliner, which was used by President Truman from 1947 to 1953. At the suggestion of the aircraft’s pilot, Truman named it The Independence in recognition of his hometown of Independence, Mo.
Climbing a nearby flight of stairs leads visitors through the only Lockheed VC-121E ever built, which served as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal airplane from 1954 until he left office in January 1961. A military version of the famous Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation commercial airliner, its fuselage “stretched” 18 feet longer than earlier versions, and with more powerful engines, greater fuel capacity and greater speed, these aircraft became popularly known as “Super Connies.” Eisenhower named this aircraft, his third Constellation, Columbine III, after the official state flower of Colorado in honor of his wife Mamie.
Finally, visitors can walk through one of the most important aircraft in aviation history – Air Force One (SAM 26000). Over its 36-year career, it served eight presidents – Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton. However, the aircraft is most widely known for flying President Kennedy to Dallas, Texas, where he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963 – and it was on this airplane that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president. SAM 26000 then carried Kennedy’s body and President Johnson back to Washington, D.C.
More information about these and six other Presidential Gallery aircraft on display is available at http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Presidential-Gallery.
More information about the Presidents’ Day Plane Talks is available at http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Events.