Boeing 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 modified. It 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 nose.
    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.
     President 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 Soviet Union.
AM 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.    

Boeing VC-137 Air Force One.
From our Premier Series.  1/90th scale. 17" wingspan x 18" length
  No. ABP1D-PR.  Only $194.95

Boeing VC-137 Air Force One.
From our Standard Series.  1/100th scale.  17.5" wingspan x 18.5" long.
  No. ABP1D-ST.  Only $139.95    
aviation td15