Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Restoration crews at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force plan to move the VC-137C Air Force One (SAM 26000), which was used by eight presidents — Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton — to the museum’s new fourth building April 9.
The VC-54C Sacred Cow, which was first used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, will also be moved into the fourth building that day.
Weather permitting, the moves will begin approximately 9 a.m. with Sacred Cow being moved first, followed by SAM 26000 around 10 a.m.
The public will be able to view aircraft as they move into the fourth building from a designated area on the museum grounds. Information on the move schedule is updated regularly on the museum’s website (www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Expansion.aspx). A map of the viewing area and additional information about the expansion also are available on that page.
The new $40.8 million fourth building was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation, a non-profit organization chartered to assist in the development and expansion of the museum’s facilities, and is scheduled to open to the public June 8. Special weekend activities and demonstrations are being planned to continue celebrating the building opening, June 11-12.
The 224,000 square foot building will house four galleries — Presidential, Research & Development, Space and Global Reach, along with three science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Learning Nodes.
The new Presidential Gallery will allow the museum to relocate and expand one of its most popular exhibits, which was formerly located on a controlled-access portion of WPAFB and accessible by bus to only a small percentage of museum visitors and those with base access. When the new gallery opens in June, all visitors will have the opportunity to view the museum’s collection of 10 presidential aircraft and walk through four of them.
The Douglas VC-54C Skymaster was the first aircraft purpose-built to fly the president of the United States. Carrying the staff transport “VC” designation, the aircraft was officially named The Flying White House. However, the aircraft became better known by its unofficial nickname, Sacred Cow, a reference to the high security surrounding the aircraft and its special status. President Franklin D. Roosevelt first used this aircraft in 1945 and a battery-powered elevator was installed at the rear of the aircraft, which allowed him to board it easily while in his wheelchair.
Roosevelt’s successor, President Harry S. Truman, also used the Sacred Cow extensively during the first 27 months of his administration, and on July 26, 1947, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 on board the aircraft. This act established the U.S. Air Force as an independent service, making the Sacred Cow the “birthplace” of the U.S. Air Force.
The Boeing VC-137C (SAM 26000) was the first jet aircraft built specifically for use by the President of the United States. During its flying career, it carried eight sitting presidents and countless heads of state, diplomats, dignitaries and officials on many historic journeys known as Special Air Missions (SAM).
SAM 26000 was used by President Kennedy and carried his body back to Washington, D.C. from Dallas after his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. It also served as the location where President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president.
In September 1971, President Nixon flew on SAM 26000 to WPAFB for the dedication of the first museum building at its current location.
In December 1972, SAM 26000 became the president’s backup aircraft when the Air Force acquired another Boeing VC-137C (SAM 27000). However, SAM 26000 continued flying presidents, vice-presidents and other high-ranking government officials on important missions.
After 36 years of providing service and accumulating more than 13,000 flying hours, SAM 26000 was retired to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in May 1998.