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Fight to Keep Air Force One in Dayton
DAYTON -- After losing out on the fight for space shuttles and drones, now Dayton is in a fight to hang on to the Air Force One plane that flew eight presidents.
Last spring, Air Force Director Jack Hudson took a call from the Lyndon B. Johnson Museum in Austin, Texas. They were asking if the museum would loan them Special Air Mission 26000.
"I said, 'well it's going to stay here,'" said Hudson.
The airplane flew President Kennedy's body after he was assassinated and was where LBJ was sworn in.
"It served eight presidents, not just one," said Hudson. "It's part of the whole story of presidential transport, which we tell here. And we serve almost 5 million people a year, free admission and free parking."
Our Air Force Museum sees about five times as many visitors as the LBJ museum. After Hudson turned down LBJ's museum reps, they went over Hudson's head and put in the same request to the Secretary of the Air Force. That's when Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Mike Turner stepped in and sent their own letter to Secretary Deborah Lee James.
"We are already expanding the museum," said Turner. "This plane is already under our roof and it would be a part of the expansion that's happening at the Air Force Museum. The money has already been raised and that expansion is moving forward."
SAM 26000 has been at the National Museum of the United States Air Force since 1998 when it retired from active service. Right now, we are just waiting to hear back from the secretary, but visitors of the NMUSAF say after losing out on the shuttle, it would be unfair to remove this Air Force One from the Air Force Museum.
"I wouldn't give it back, it belongs here," said Dave Lindeman who was visiting from Detroit. "More people get to enjoy the plane so keep it here."
Air Force officials are expecting Secretary James' decision soon. Once she makes it, we will be sure to let you know.
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