Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Air Force One(s)

Guest blogger Philip here again.  My last week in Dayton has finally arrived and I'm looking forward to getting back with Joia and the kids.  The Air Force Museum was closed most of the time they were here due to the government shutdown and the off site Presidential and Experimental galleries have been closed for months due to the sequester.  I was really excited to see that they recently decided to open up these galleries from Thursday to Sunday.

 View of the main museum from on base.

Douglas VC-54C Skymaster - Sacred Cow

This plane was built at the request of the US Army Air Forces 1944 but only carried Franklin D. Roosevelt once, on his trip to meet with the other allied leaders at Yalta in early 1945.  Before this plane came into service, President Roosevelt would need to fly on charted commercial aircraft.  In the picture below you can see the special lift that was lowered from the airplane to life President Roosevelt into the plane while he was till in his wheelchair.

See the lift at the bottom of the picture near the rear of the plane?

 Here is a closeup

Sacred Cow continued in presidential service for the first 27 months of the Truman Administration.  In 1947 President Truman was on Sacred Cow when he signed the law that created the Department of the Air Force as a branch of the National Military Establishment (later changed to Department of Defense) by taking the Army Air Forces out of the Department of War (changed to the Department of the Army by the same law).

Douglas VC-118 - The Independence 

This one became Harry Truman's plane in 1947 and is named after his hometown in Missouri.  The paint job is made to look like an eagle and it was the first presidential plane with a distinctive paint job.

 Lockheed VC-121E Super Constellation - Columbine III

This was Dwight Eisenhower's plane from 1954 to 1961 and was named by his wife after the state flower of Colorado.  This was the first plane to use the call sign "Air Force One" in 1959.  This was in part due to an incident involving President Eisenhower's first presidential plane, Columbine II.  A commercial airliner (Eastern Airlines 8610) with the same tail number as Columbine II (Air Force 8610) confused the air traffic controllers and almost resulted in a mid-air collision.

Boeing VC-137C - a modified 707-320B
Special Air Mission 26000 ("Sam Two Six Thousand")

The first Air Force One to use the paint scheme still in use today

This plane served from 1962 to 1998 (it became the back-up in 1972) and carried all eight presidents from Kennedy to Clinton.  Famous trips include President Kenndy's trip to Berlin and President Nixon's trip to China.  However, it is probably most famous for the events of 1963 when it carried John F. Kennedy to Dallas before he was assassinated.  Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office to become President on-board the same aircraft which later carried President Kennedy's casket back to Washington D.C. and started the tradition of not carrying presidential caskets in the cargo hold.

 Bell UH-13J, the first presidential helicopter carried President Eisenhower in 1957

There was more in the Presidential Gallery but you'll just have to come visit for yourself to see the rest of it...or go on the museum's website where they have a pretty cool virtual tour.  The VC-25s (modified Boeing 747-200) currently in service were ordered during the Reagan administration and first flew as Air Force One for President George H.W. Bush in 1990.  After walking through most of the aircraft that previously served the president, I can confirm that a 747 would have to be a HUGE leap forward.

Now it was time to head next door to the Research and Development Gallery.  There were way too many aircraft on this side to include pictures of more than a tiny fraction.

 North American XB-70 Valkyrie

Originally it was going to be a supersonic long range bomber but it never entered operational service and was instead used for research on very large supersonic aircraft.  Also at the bottom of the picture you can see the Northrop-McDonald Douglas YF-23A (Black Widow II).  It lost a competition with the F-22 (Raptor) to become the first 5th generation fighter.
F-16, modified for testing new features (blue tail on the bottom right)

 North American X-15A-2

This one was carried aloft by a B-52.  When it was released from the B-52 at 45,000 feet its rocket engine would fire and after reaching the edge of space more than 50 miles above the surface (earning the pilot an astronaut rating) it would glide back to earth and land on a dry lake bed.

McDonnell XF-45 Goblin

This one was actually located on the presidential side because they are running out of room on the experimental side while raising money for construction of the fourth wing of the main museum.  They called it a "parasite" fighter because it was designed to be carried in a long range bomber and deployed to defend the bomber if needed.  After flight it could then return to the bomber and be raised back inside.  Seems more like a "symbiotic" fighter to me.  It never entered operational flight because air-to-air refueling was developed and allowed traditional fighters to extend their range and stay with the bomber.

Next stop after the museum...geocaching.

The cache was located a mere 150-200 meter duckwalk into this pipe...seriously, what is with Ohioans?

After killing a giant spider I took this picture, 
too bad I couldn't come at it from above through the manhole cover.

1 comment:

Mom W. said...

Wow, interesting, thank you Philip!! Enjoyed much!!!