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Touring JFK's Air Force One
WPAFB -- People are gathering right here in Dayton Ohio to see one of the most historic artifacts associated with Friday's 50 year anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. At the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, you can see Special Air Mission 26000, Kennedy's Air Force One. He flew aboard the aircraft to Dallas where he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.
At the museum's Presidential Gallery Friday, people came from all over just to be in Special Air Mission 26000.
"I was a junior in high school in Miss Bales class in Harrisburg Kentucky I remember it all too well," said Robert Drury of Yellow Springs.
"It takes my breath a way it's kind of emotional I remember it so well," said Maureen Espo. "I was a sophomore in high school it was the day before my 15th birthday. We immediately got on our knees and prayed."
For people like Espo, the images have been engraved in their minds for 50 years.
"I save the newspapers," she said. "I still have them at home."
Now, walking inside Special Air Mission 26000,
"It's really hit me hard I didn't know that it would," she said.
Built in 1962, this was the first jet made specifically for use by the President. It carried 8 presidents from Kennedy to Clinton. It's where Johnson took the oath of office and just a few rows down where President Kennedy's casket laid.
The aircrew did not want to bring the fallen president's casket back to D.C. in a Cargo hold so what they did is removed a wall in the plane, cut out two rows of seating and placed the casket there. Meanwhile Jackie sat right by her husbands side.
"Jackie was by him the whole time and I thought that was so sad. For her to be going through that, it was emotional said Sue Hodge from California.
"Just knowing all the history and being in the same place where Pres. Kennedy was and where Johnson was sworn in; Jackie Kennedy stood here just to be in the same place, it's really momentous," said Espo.
The first thing we noticed when we went inside is how tight the space was. You don't have much room to squeeze through because of the plexiglass. That was actually added a couple decades ago for preservation purposes.
To access the aircraft, visitors must ride shuttle buses from the main museum complex to the Presidential Gallery, which is located on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Because of the increased interest in the aircraft, the museum is expanding the number of bus trips to the Presidential and Research & Development Galleries, offering four trips per day from Nov. 16-Dec. 1.
The shuttle 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 Department of Defense civilians with government ID may use their private vehicle to visit the galleries from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily from Nov. 16-Dec. 1.
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