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BOEING VC-137C SAM 26000

Posted 10/16/2014 Printable Fact Sheet
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SAM 26000
DAYTON, Ohio -- Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000 (Air Force One) at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Note: This aircraft is located in the Presidential Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Click here for requirements to visit this gallery.

Visitors are permitted to walk through this aircraft.

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 many presidents over three decades, carrying heads of state, diplomats and other dignitaries and officials on many historic journeys.

Popularly known as "SAM 26000" (Special Air Mission; tail number 26000), the aircraft has also been called "Air Force One" -- though this designation was used officially only when the president was aboard. During the 1950s, the call sign of the presidential aircraft was the prefix SAM followed by the aircraft's tail number, and the name "Air Force One" was later chosen to ensure there was no question as to where the president's aircraft was and whether the president was aboard. Because President Kennedy did not name his aircraft as had former presidents, the news media popularized the call sign "Air Force One" as this aircraft's name.

SAM 26000 Served Many Presidents
On Oct. 10, 1962, VC-137C number 26000 entered USAF service directly from the Boeing assembly line in Renton, Wash. President Kennedy had the aircraft painted in striking blue and white instead of the usual military colors to give it a distinctive look. The title "United States of America" was emblazoned on the fueselage and an American flag was painted on the tail. This aircraft carried eight presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton. 

In December 1972 another Boeing 707-320, aircraft 27000, became the primary presidential aircraft and 26000 became a back-up, flying vice presidents and other high-ranking government officials. In 1990 SAM 26000 left the presidential fleet, but it continued to fly government officials, including Secretary of State James Baker. Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, he went abroad in 26000 for talks with Iraqi leaders about removing their troops from Kuwait.

36 Years of Memorable Journeys
SAM 26000 flew President Kennedy to Berlin in 1963, where he declared to West Berliners, "Ich bin ein Berliner," assuring them of continuing United States support in the face of Communist threats and the construction of the Berlin Wall. Kennedy also flew aboard SAM 26000 to Dallas, Texas, where he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963 -- and it was on this airplane that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president. SAM 26000 then carried John F. Kennedy's body and President Johnson back to Washington, D.C. Johnson also used 26000 to visit U.S. troops in Vietnam during the Southeast Asia War. 

Beginning in 1970, President Nixon's national security advisor, Dr. Henry Kissinger, used the aircraft for 13 trips to Paris, France, for secret meetings with the North Vietnamese. In February 1972 President Nixon flew aboard SAM 26000 on his historic "Journey for Peace" to the People's Republic of China (the first visit by an American president to China). In May 1972 SAM 26000 carried Nixon to the Soviet Union. 

In October 1981 the aircraft flew Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter, and former Secretary of State Dr. Kissinger to the funeral of the slain Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. In March 1983 Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom flew on SAM 26000 during her trip to the United States when she visited the West Coast. 

At a nationally televised event in May 1998, the USAF retired SAM 26000 at the museum. This aircraft provided 36 years of service and accumulated more than 13,000 flying hours.

Maximum speed: 604 mph
Ceiling: Above 43,000 ft.
Range: 6,000+ miles
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney TF33 (JT3D-3B) turbofans of 18,000 lbs. thrust each
Load: 40 passengers or 26,200 lbs. of cargo
Crew: 7 or 8

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Find Out More
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Cockpit360 Images
View SAM 26000 Forward Aircraft Entrance
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View SAM 26000 Copilot Station
View SAM 26000 Flight Deck View
View SAM 26000 Flight Deck Overview
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View SAM 26000 Presidential Lavatory
View SAM 26000 Presidential Private Suite
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View SAM 26000 Aircrew Seating
View SAM 26000 Aft Aircraft Entrance
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