January 23, 2014
USAF to keep Air Force One in museum
Photo of SAM 26000 landing at National Museum of USAF
SAM 26000 lands at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in 1998 (Photo: USAF)
In response to letters of concern from Ohio lawmakers, the Air Force says it plans to keep its most famous Air Force One jet in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

"The Air Force is not considering the transfer of this aircraft to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum or to any other entity," Maj. Gen. James Martin Jr., on behalf of Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, wrote in a Jan. 17 letter to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.

The Air Force statement was in response to a letter of concern signed jointly by Portman and Turner after they learned the Texas-based library had requested the airplane be relocated to its museum.

The airplane is SAM 26000, the VC-137C that served as Air Force One to several presidents, including Johnson. It is most famous as the airplane that flew Kennedy to Dallas, Texas, where he was assassinated, and returned Kennedy's body to Washington, D.C.

"We applaud the (Air Force) secretary's decision," NAHA Executive Director Tony Sculimbrene said in response to a news media query on Wednesday, Jan. 22. "We appreciate both Senator Portman's and Representative Turner's interest in the subject of SAM 26000 and their request for a definitive statement from the secretary."

Keeping SAM 26000 in the National Museum is important to the Dayton region for several reasons, Sculimbrene said:


It's one of the most important airplanes in the museum, which in turn is the region's most important asset for aviation heritage tourism.


While the group in Texas thinks the plane is important to LBJ's presidency, it's just as important to the presidency of Kennedy and Richard Nixon (he used it for his groundbreaking visit to China). That the significant history goes beyond a single president is why it should be in a national museum.

It's our hope the group in Texas will accept the lawful decision made by the secretary as the United States Code authorizes for decisions on disposition and display of Air Force aircraft. We hope they won't attempt to circumvent that lawful decision with new legislation--something that has happened in the past with other Air Force artifacts.

The National Aviation Heritage Area is evaluating other actions it can take to ensure the plane remains in the National Museum and to stop any additional efforts by the group in Texas. Those actions are under development at this time and will be announced in the days ahead.


"We won't give up the plane without a fight," Sculimbrene said. "We expect to be successful no matter how much money they have in Texas, because history is on our side."  

Purdue U. displays X-20 in Armstrong Hall
Photo of X-20 Dyna Soar model in Armstrong Hall at Purdue U.
Photo: Purdue University
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. has installed a scale model of the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar space plane in its engineering building in honor of one of its intended pilots, Ohioan Neil Armstrong.

The X-20 never flew, but the program advanced far enough that Armstrong was one of several Air Force and NASA pilots named to fly it. Armstrong later became the first man to walk on the moon and is memorialized in the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.

Hanging in Purdue's Armstrong Hall, the X-20 also reflects the work of many scientists, engineers and managers in the National Aviation Heritage Area. The Air Force's Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base managed Dyna-Soar (for "Dynamic Soaring") under the late William Lamar. The government cancelled the program in 1963, but it developed technology that paved the way for the space shuttle and other winged aerospace vehicles. Similar groundbreaking work goes on today in the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Army museum exhibit to honor Wrights
Photo of Ken Hyde's reproduction 1908 Wright Flyer
Photo: Army Historical Foundation
The planned National Museum of the U.S. Army near Washington, D.C. will include an exhibit honoring the Wright brothers, according to the Army Historical Foundation.

The foundation recently announced a grant of $1 million from FedEx Corp. to support an "Army and Society Gallery," which will prominently feature a reproduction of the first Army airplane, a 1908 Wright Flyer.

The foundation is a private, not-for-profit corporation that is raising funds for the museum under an agreement with the Army.
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The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a private, not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity of the National Aviation Heritage Area. The Heritage Area encompasses an eight-county area in Ohio (Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby and Auglaize counties.) NAHA's vision is to sustain the legacy of the Wright brothers and make the Dayton region the recognized global center of aviation heritage and premier destination for aviation heritage tourism.

PO Box 414 * Wright Brothers Station * Dayton, OH 45409 * 937-443-0165
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