VC137 - Air Force One, (Boeing 707)
On October 10
1962, the first VC-137B arrived
at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. The aircraft was the
first jet ever designed exclusively for presidential use.
It was essentially a Boeing 707, but had been specially
was capable of traveling farther and faster than any other
executive aircraft in the Air Force fleet. It could also operate
from much shorter runways. Most important, it was a flying
"Oval Office," filled with electronic and communications equipment
that permitted the President of the United States to direct all
military forces and other government resources from the air,
anywhere in the world. It's tail number was 26000, and was
commonly called SAM 26000, "SAM" standing for
Special Air Missions.
President Kennedy felt that the
airplane symbolized the United States. Since it would
often be traveling to other countries, he felt that it should
have a distinctive look. Since many of his flights would
be diplomatic, he felt that it should not bear military
markings. He commissioned designer
Raymond Loewy to come up with a new design. The result was a
striking blue and white color scheme that has more or less
carried to this day. In place of "United States Air
Force," the words, "United States of America" was
emblazoned on the side of the fuselage. An American flag was
painted on the tail, and because it would be the president's
aircraft, a presidential seal was added on both sides of the
Two days after
arriving at Andrews, the aircraft made its first official
flight, to Wheelus Air Base, Libya, to bring the country's crown
prince to the United States for a visit. As the Cuban missile
crisis loomed later that year, 26000 was used to bring senators
and congressmen back to Washington since congress was not in
session at the time.
Kennedy flew 26000 for the first time in November 1962, when he
and the first lady attended Eleanor Roosevelt's funeral in New
York. In June Kennedy used the aircraft when he flew to Ireland
and Germany, where he made his famous "Ich Bin Ein
Berliner" speech. A month earlier, while taking a U.S.
delegation to Moscow, 26000 broke 30 speed records, including
the fastest nonstop flight between the United States and the
26000 also flew the Kennedys on their visit to Dallas, Texas on
Nov 22, 1963. That flight would be the president's last.
When news that the president had been shot reached aircraft
commander, Col James Swindal, he prepared the aircraft for
immediate departure. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was also in
Dallas. Fearing a conspiracy against the United States
leadership, secret service agents rushed now-President Johnson
to the safety of the Air Force aircraft, Because the
communications equipment of 26000 was superior to that of the
aircraft that Johnson flew to Dallas, the decision was made that
Johnson should wait aboard 26000 for Mrs. Kennedy and her
husband's body. Crew members felt it would be undignified for
the former president's body to ride back to Andrews in the cargo
hold. They made room for the casket in the passenger compartment
by removing seats from the rear of the aircraft. Before 26000
could leave Dallas, President Johnson took the oath of office on
board the aircraft. At Arlington cemetery, as the president's
body was being lowered into the ground, 26000 flew overhead at
1,000 feet and dipped its wings in final salute.
Air Force One.
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Air Force One.
From our Standard Series. 1/100th scale. 17.5"
wingspan x 18.5" long.
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