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Museum staff prepares aircraft for display in fourth building

  • Published
  • By Sarah Swan
  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
While much of the focus for the fourth building has been on the actual structure, a lot of behind-the-scenes work is already taking place to prepare for the building to open to the public in 2016.

Exhibits specialists like Jerry Miracle have been assembling a 1:72 scale model aircraft layout of the fourth building.

"We use these models to provide more of a three-dimensional view of the building," Miracle said. "This helps the staff decide the exact aircraft layout as we design exhibits and get ready to place aircraft."

Exhibits staff and volunteers built models of the aircraft that are planned for display in that building, which will house the Space, Presidential Aircraft, Research & Development (R&D) and Global Reach Galleries.

Down the road in the Restoration Division, staff is busy moving aircraft and determining what they'll need to do to prepare the full-size aircraft for display. In recent weeks, some aircraft were moved out of the restoration hangars to make room for the massive Titan IV space launch vehicle, which is more than 200 feet long.

"Right now, we are figuring out the best way to move forward with assembling the Titan IV," said Greg Hassler, a supervisor in the Restoration Division. "Not only is this a enormous piece of equipment - for example, just one of the lifting rings weighs 13,000 pounds - but we have the added challenge of displaying it on its side, rather than upright."

In addition, restoration specialists are reinforcing the floors of four of the presidential aircraft - the VC-54C Sacred Cow, VC-118 The Independence, VC-121E Columbine III and VC-137C SAM (Special Air Mission) 26000 - so visitors can continue to walk through the interiors of those planes, which are some of the most popular exhibits in the museum.

Staff also must inspect all the other aircraft that are planned for the fourth building and prepare them for display. Work will include repairing corrosion, repainting, replacing Plexiglas, acquiring new cables for aircraft that will be suspended from the ceiling, and inflating tires so the aircraft can be tugged over to the new building.

"We do have a lot of work in front of us," Hassler said. "But it will be exciting when we start towing the aircraft over and placing them in the new building."

Construction on the fourth building begins this summer, and the building is expected to be completed in late summer 2015. The museum will begin populating the building that fall until all exhibits are completed. For the most up-to-date information about the new building, visit

Note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Friends Journal. To receive the Journal and other benefits, become a member of the Air Force Museum Foundation.