Kennedy Plane Exhibit Closing at Air Force Museum for Upgrades

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE -- One of the most popular and iconic planes in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will temporarily close to public tours Monday.

The Boeing 707 jetliner known best as "JFK's Air Force One" and its SAM 26000 tail code, will be closed until Feb. 3 for restoration work, said Christina Douglass, a museum curator.

New LED lighting and additional Plexiglas will be installed to protect the historic jet that experienced a surge of thousands more visitors since it was rolled into a new $40.8 million hangar that opened in June.

Conservators will clean the "nooks and crannies" of the jetliner, too.

"One of our priorities here is the conservation and preservation of these artifacts," Douglass said. "Definitely with the increased visitor traffic that's something we want to be aware of without stressing the artifact."

Visitors can climb a stairwell to walk through a narrow passageway on the plane that carried the body of a slain President John F. Kennedy to Washington, D.C., after his assassination in Dallas. It was also where Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was immediately sworn into the presidency on the same day, Nov. 22, 1963.

The jet carried eight presidents, from Kennedy to Bill Clinton, on diplomatic journeys around the globe.

Until this summer, the famous Air Force One jet had in recent years been housed in a restricted-access hangar at Wright-Patterson and accessible to a small number of museum visitors via bus tours.

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