WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The National Museum of the United States Air Force will temporarily close the VC-118 The Independence from March 20-April 8, in order to complete an interior lighting upgrade with new LED lights.
The Independence was the second aircraft built specifically to transport the president. A military version of the Douglas DC-6 commercial airliner, it 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.
According to museum curator Christina Douglass, while closing the aircraft will be a short-term inconvenience, the new lighting upgrades will greatly enhance the visitor experience.
“Much like the recent lighting improvements made to the VC-137C ‘SAM 26000,’ the new LED lights in The Independence will greatly improve interior illumination, are more cost effective than conventional lighting, and also more artifact-friendly, which will help ensure the long-term preservation of the aircraft,” said Douglass.
The Independence had a unique, bright color scheme, recommended by the Douglas Aircraft Co., consisting of a stylized American eagle with the feathers carried down the fuselage to the vertical stabilizer. Formally commissioned on July 4, 1947, Truman made his first official flight in the aircraft on Aug. 31 to an international conference at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of the plane’s most historic flights occurred in October 1950, when it carried Truman to Wake Island to discuss the Korean War situation with Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The aircraft was retired from service and placed on display at the museum in 1965. From 1977-1978, museum personnel restored The Independence and returned the aircraft to its former presidential markings and eagle motif paint scheme.
Additional preservation work and general cleaning is also scheduled to take place while the aircraft is closed.
The aircraft is scheduled to re-open to the public on Saturday, April 8.