For decades, world leaders have consistently stated that the most powerful tool the President of the United States possesses is Air Force One. The aircraft projects power, status and is one of the most useful marketing tools available to the United States. Many of those leaders respect the opportunity to visit the President at the White House, but it feels like a common occurrence to many who have even more opulent presidential residences. Very few political or world leaders get the opportunity to ride aboard Air Force One. It is a rare privilege extended to few. Those who do have the opportunity immediately understand the power and prestige that is projected by Air Force One.
The most famous of all Presidential aircraft are SAM 26000 and SAM 27000. Any aircraft which the President rides aboard is designated by the call sign “Air Force One.” The Boeing 707 commissioned by the Air Force in 1962 for President Kennedy was designated Special Air Missions (SAM) 26000. Later in 1972, SAM 27000 was commissioned. The Kennedys commissioned Raymond Loewy, a French-born American designer, to bring a sense of style and luxury to the presidential aircraft. His creative designs created the look and feel of Air Force One that we know today.
Mr. Loewy achieved fame for the magnitude of his design efforts across a variety of industries. He spent most of his professional career in the United States, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1938. Among his designs were the Shell, Exxon, TWA and the former BP logos, the Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, Coca-Cola vending machines, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators, the Studebaker Avanti and Champion.
SAM 26000 and SAM 27000 served all the modern presidents through Bill Clinton. SAM 26000 carried President Kennedy to Dallas, Texas, where it served as the backdrop as the Kennedys greeted well-wishers at Dallas’s Love Field. Later that afternoon, Kennedy was assassinated, and Vice President Johnson assumed the office of President and took the oath of office aboard SAM 26000. At Johnson’s request, the SAM 26000 carried Kennedy’s body back to Washington. A decade later, SAM 26000 took Johnson’s body home to Texas after his state funeral in Washington. SAM 26000 also served President Nixon on several groundbreaking overseas voyages, including his famous visit to the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, both firsts for an American president.
SAM 26000 was replaced in December 1972 by SAM 27000. It was kept as a backup until retired in 1998. Richard Nixon was the first president to use SAM 27000 as a primary aircraft. After announcing his intention to resign the presidency, Nixon boarded SAM 27000 to travel to California.
SAM 27000’s last flight as Air Force One was on August 29, 2001 when it flew President George W. Bush from San Antonio to Waco, Texas. Following the flight, it was formally decommissioned, then flown to San Bernardino International Airport (formerly Norton AFB) in California. It was dismantled and taken to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, where it was reassembled and is on permanent display.
ADG Team with SAM 27000
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library – Simi Valley, CA.
From the Factory Floor
A bronze base…
by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting