Air Force says historic LBJ/JFK plane will stay at museum

LBJ library in Austin wants plane on display in Texas.

The Air Force has turned aside an attempt by Lyndon B. Johnson supporters to claim the presidential jet the former president was sworn into office aboard and put it on display in Texas.

The historic Boeing 707 jet, which also carried President John F. Kennedy’s body home after his Nov. 22, 1963 assassination in Dallas, is displayed at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson. The presidential aircraft would be one of the centerpieces of a new $35.4 million museum gallery expansion scheduled to open to the public in early 2016.

Wyatt Thomas Johnson, the chairman emeritus of the LBJ Foundation, has said he and other supporters are prepared to spend millions of dollars to build a new pavilion at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin to display the plane.

In a Jan. 17 letter to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, Maj, Gen. James F. Martin assured the two lawmakers the plane, also known as SAM 26000, would be permanently displayed at the Air Force museum. Portman and Turner sent a Jan. 8 letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James about their concerns of losing the jet from the museum.

“The Air Force is not considering the transfer of this aircraft to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum or any other entity,” Martin wrote in response. “The Air Force’s decades-long mission as the executive agent for presidential fixed-wing airlift is a great historical narrative and one that we are proud to present to the public. SAM 26000 is a key artifact to tell this important Air Force story.”

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