January 14, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Mike Turner, Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, and Senator Rob Portman sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James expressing serious concerns over moving the Air Force One plane used by Lyndon B. Johnson during his presidency.
The Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000 is currently housed at the National Museum of the United State Air Force (NMUSAF) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. According to recent reports, the LBJ Presidential Library has requested to incorporate the plane into part of an exhibit in Austin, Texas.
The Jan. 8 letter states, “The NMUSAF is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world and is well deserving of such an iconic piece of aviation history. Dayton is the birthplace of the Wright Brothers and has a long history of supporting the Air Force. Located within one day’s drive of 60 percent of the United States, the museum draws millions of visitors annually and provides important educational opportunities for all who visit.”
According to the letter, the LBJ Presidential Library currently receives approximately 125,000 visitors annually compared to the NMUSAF’s more than 1.3 million visitors. The letter also notes that the LBJ Library occupies only 14 acres and lacks the necessary facilities to house an aircraft the size of Air Force One.
“Significantly fewer visitors would be exposed to the aircraft if it were removed from the NMUSAF and relocated to the LBJ Presidential Library,” the letter continues. “Moving this aircraft from the NMUSAF is a mistake that would deprive the public of access to such an import piece of American history.”
This U.S. Air Force Boeing VC-137C aircraft (civilian designation 707-320B) was the first jet made specifically for use by the President of the United States. Built in 1962, it served eight presidents over three decades — Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton — carrying heads of state, diplomats and other dignitaries and officials on many historic journeys.