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(01) What is being commemorated this year?

Nov. 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

(02) What does the NMUSAF have to do with JFK’s assassination?

Popularly known as "SAM 26000" (Special Air Mission; tail number 26000), Kennedy's Air Force One, is on display in the museum's Presidential Gallery. He 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 Kennedy's body and Johnson back to Washington, D.C.

(03) Can you tell me more about SAM 26000?

This U.S. Air Force Boeing VC-137C aircraft was the first jet made specifically for use by the President of the United States. Built in 1962, this aircraft carried eight presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton, in addition to carrying heads of state, diplomats and other dignitaries and officials, on many historic journeys. Click here for more information about the aircraft and its most historic missions.

(04) Where is SAM 26000? How can I see it?

SAM 26000 is located in the Presidential Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Visitors must ride shuttle buses from the main museum complex to the gallery. This service is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and visitors are encouraged to sign up early in the day as buses fill up quickly. A current government-issued photo ID is required for U.S. citizens over age 18, and all foreign visitors must present an original passport. Anyone under age 18 must be escorted by an adult. Shuttle buses are not handicapped accessible, and individuals requiring special assistance should contact the museum's Operations Division in advance at (937) 255-3286 to arrange transportation.

Military and DoD civilians with government ID may use their private vehicle to visit the galleries from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Motorcoach tours and military reunion groups wishing to visit these galleries should contact the museum's Special Events Division three to four weeks prior to their visit.

(05) Can I see inside the aircraft?

Yes, the interior of SAM 26000 is open for the public to walk through. Please note that the walkway is quite narrow (approx. 17 inches wide).

(06) What is the shuttle schedule during the anniversary commemoration?

Because of the increased interest in SAM 26000, the museum is expanding the number of bus trips to the Presidential and Research & Development Galleries, offering four trips per day from Saturday, Nov. 16-Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, on the following schedule:

Registered participants meet at 9:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. seven days a week for a briefing and shuttle bus ride to the galleries. Please allow an hour and 30 minutes to participate. (Note: Bus schedule is subject to change based on staff availability.)

For those with base access, the galleries will be open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily (use Gate 19B).

Beginning Monday, Dec. 2, we will revert back to the current schedule, with the galleries open Thursday-Sunday.

(07) When did SAM 26000 arrive at the museum? When did it go on public display?

At a nationally televised event in May 1998, the U.S. Air Force retired SAM 26000 at the museum. This aircraft provided 36 years of service and accumulated more than 13,000 flying hours. It was placed on public display in the Presidential Gallery later that year.

(08) How was SAM 26000’s paint scheme determined?

SAM 26000 has a special paint scheme because this aircraft represents the United States around the world. First Lady Jackie Kennedy and designer Raymond Loewy conceived the original paint scheme, and that basic design is still used on Air Force One today. Visitors will notice the prominent Presidential Seal on the lower fuselage and the large letters that spell out UNITED STATES OF AMERICA across the top of the fuselage.

(09) What accommodations were made for Kennedy’s casket after his assassination?

After the air crew learned of President Kennedy's assassination, they refused to place his casket in the cargo hold. Instead, they cut the bulkhead and pulled out four seats to fit the casket in the fuselage. Visitors can still see the saw marks where the bulkhead was cut as they walk through SAM 26000 today.

(10) Didn’t Johnson take the Oath of Office on board SAM 26000?

Yes, it was on this airplane that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president before leaving Dallas. This action helped the American people understand that the U.S. government would continue even in light of the tragedy that had just taken place.

(11) Have there been modifications to the aircraft over the years?

Major structural changes were made during President Nixon's administration. Most notable was the movement of the presidential suite and galley to the mid-section of the aircraft (they had been located in the rear, but that area was loud and bumpy due to the jet engines). The interior has remained basically the same since that time.

In late 2009/early 2010, the museum's restoration staff repainted the exterior of SAM 26000 to feature the paint scheme it had when President Kennedy flew on board the aircraft.

(12) How important is SAM 26000 to U.S. history?

SAM 26000 is one of the most important aircraft in aviation history. It was built to indicate American air superiority to the world in the 1960s as it carried presidents, heads of state, diplomats and other dignitaries around the globe. Visitors have the opportunity to be in one of the most historic places on earth. When they are on board this aircraft, they can stand in a place that shaped American history.

(13) What is the long-term plan for SAM 26000?

When the museum's planned fourth building is complete, SAM 26000, along with the rest of the presidential aircraft collection, will move to the new Presidential Gallery in that building. Relocating the presidential aircraft to the main museum complex will give all visitors the opportunity to view and walk through these displays. Current plans call for the fourth building to be initially opened in 2015, and the museum will continue to populate the new building until all exhibits are completed.

(14) How else is the museum commemorating this anniversary?

In addition to displaying SAM 26000, the museum also has several online resources in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. Click here to access those resources.

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