We have established that I enjoy history. If I could make a living out of visiting historic places and things I would do it in a heartbeat.In February 2007, I made a trip to Seattle, WA and visited a remarkable place, Boeing’s Museum of Flight. I had been there before but the aircraft I had stopped by to tour had not yet arrived. SAM 970, the first jet powered aircraft to be used as Air Force One had been delivered to the museum, on loan from the Air Force Museum after its retirement in 1996. The aircraft sits among other historic aircraft outside, and across the street from the main building. Personally I think it should be undercover. It is easy to see the elements taking its toll on this beautiful machine.
The aircraft was delivered to the Air Force for use as the presidential plane in May of 1959. President Eisenhower took his first jet ride in SAM 970, in August of the same year. His destination was Europe.
September of 1959 Nikita, Khrushchev, used this aircraft while touring the United States.
January 20th, 1961, SAM 970, becomes President John F. Kennedy’s Main transport aircraft.
October of 1962, SAM 970 makes way for a new sister. Replaced by the even more famous 707, tail number 26000.
February, 1963, with the assistance of The First Lady, a new color scheme is introduced to the presidential fleet. The amazing white on blue over silver colors that she sported until President Jimmy Carter came to be. He felt the color scheme was too showy and had it toned down a bit. Heaven forbid that the aircraft with such a significant purpose be too flashy.
SAM 970 remained a faithful servant and was used by Vice President Johnson, to fly into Love Field, Dallas Texas, November 22ND, 1963.
1970 to 1971 the aircraft was used to transport Henry Kissinger to Europe and elsewhere for secret talks where plans were made to disengage from the Vietnam War.
1972 SAM 970 was part of the official fleet that flew President Nixon and company to China.
All in all it was a pretty long and important career with the U.S. Government. If only the walls could talk. She sits now, waiting for visitors from around the world to come aboard and get lost in her history.
All images by Randy J. Cole