With a rise in interest, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has expanded the number of days visitors may tour the presidential jet that carried President John F. Kennedy’s body back to Washington, D.C., after his assassination in Dallas, Texas.
Friday marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death on Nov. 22, 1963. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office aboard the Air Force One jet to assume the presidency the day Kennedy died. Members of the presidential detail had cut out part of a bulkhead and removed seats in the rear compartment to make room to carry the president’s casket.
The Boeing 707, designated VC-137C and by the tail code Special Air Mission (SAM) 26000, is inside a presidential aircraft gallery hangar in Area B at Wright-Patterson. The museum will shuttle visitors four times a day and seven days a week through Dec. 1 to travel to the hangar from the main museum complex.
The museum has received more calls and national media coverage focused on the jet in recent days.
“We knew there would be interest in seeing the aircraft because of the anniversary coming up,” museum spokeswoman Sarah Swan said Monday. “We do encourage people to get here early in the day and sign up right when they arrive.”
The aircraft, which remained in the presidential fleet through President Bill Clinton’s administration, flew to the museum in 1998. The jet’s storied history includes President Richard M. Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, the first visit by a U.S. president to the People’s Republic of China.
Visitors may sign up at the museum on a first-come, first-served basis. They must provide a government-issued identification, according to the museum.
Military and Department of Defense civilian employees may use their government identification card to travel by private vehicle to the presidential and research and development aircraft hangar.
The hangar will be open between 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 1.