National Museum of the U.S. Air Force opens new ‘Flying the President’ exhibit

A new exhibit titled “Flying the President,” which features memorabilia flown aboard Air Force One from the FDR to Trump administrations opened Aug. 7, 2020, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

One of the most important missions of the United States Air Force is to provide fast, safe, and reliable air transportation for the President of the United States and other high-ranking government officials.

The museum’s new Flying the President exhibit highlights the dedicated men and women of the Air Force who perform this critical, no-fail mission. Visitors will see items collected from Air Force One communications specialists, flight attendants, maintainers, support personnel, and security personnel.

To make the President’s frequent air travel more comfortable, ordinary items aboard the aircraft like china, glassware, and stationary are custom designed for the president, his staff and guests. Over time, simple items like cigarettes, matches, candy and playing cards have become popular souvenirs. The exhibit includes dozens of objects collected aboard Air Force One from every presidential administration from President Franklin Roosevelt to President Trump.

Among the items, visitors can see playing cards and a gin rummy score card from the Truman Administration; President Kennedy’s cigar box from SAM 26000; memorabilia from President Nixon’s 1979 visit to China; candies from the Eisenhower, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations; and a lunch menu from one of President Trumps many flights on Air Force One.

This permanent exhibit, which will be located in the museum’s Presidential Gallery, also focuses on the crew responsible for the mission of flying the president of the United States — the 89th Airlift Wing. Stationed at Joint Base Andrews, Md., and operating by their motto — “Perfection is Our Standard,” the crew provides airlift for the president, as well as senior executive staff, high-ranking government officials, and foreign dignitaries. Presidential Service Badges that were awarded to members of the flight crew, an Air Force One crew bag and many of the crew’s uniform items can also be seen on display.

According to Museum Curator Christina Douglass, seeing these artifacts will allow visitors to personally connect to one of the Air Force’s most important and visible missions. 

“It is quite an honor for those chosen to fly on board Air Force One,” said Douglass. “The plane represents every American citizen, and the women and men of the Presidential Airlift Group and the 89th Airlift Wing execute their duties with professionalism and precision, whether you’re the President of the United States or a guest.”      

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year more than 800,000 visitors from around the world come to the museum.

For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil or call 937-255-3286.

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