Museum unveils new Air Force One exhibit

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Friday opened a new exhibit titled “Flying the President,” featuring memorabilia flown aboard Air Force One from administrations ranging from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Donald Trump.

The exhibit highlights the members of the Air Force who perform the task of transporting the president and other high-ranking government officials.

>> PHOTOS: Exhibit featuring Air Force One opens at the National Museum of the US Air Force

Exhibit curators Christina Douglass, Mitchell Dorsten and Brett Stolle have been working on the exhibit since December 2019. The final touches were installed on Thursday.

Dorsten, the exhibit designer, said his vision for the exhibit was to allows visitors to experience what it’s like to be a crew member or passenger on Air Force One.

“I wanted people to feel like they could connect to something in here,” Dorsten said. “It was really to humanize the presidency and emphasize that anyone can be president and support this mission.”

The memorabilia on display includes dozens of objects, like President Kennedy’s cigar box, playing cards from the Truman Administration, candies from three different presidencies and a lunch menu from one of President Trump’s flights.

“It’s to help people u

nderstand the connection between themselves and this Air Force mission,” said Douglass.

The exhibit is not fully displayed due to coronavirus restrictions, but Dorsten said he still has many interactive components to the exhibit that will possibly be featured next year.

Four Air Force One planes are featured in the exhibit. The Independence, the Sacred Cow, Columbine III and the SAM 2600. Visitors of the exhibit can pick up a U.S. Air Force token and place it into “ballot” boxes next to each plane to vote for their favorite display.

The planes on display are not open to inside tours but monitors in front of each plane make up for interior viewing.

“It’s been quite a challenge to get this exhibit out,” Stolle said. “It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve had a lot of great contacts with people who are former presidential crew members.”

Stolle said four or five volunteers at the museum are former crew members of Air Force One. Douglass said there are many former crew members just in the Dayton area.

“(These planes) belong to every American citizen” Douglass said. “That’s our name on the side of the plane, so we wanted to make (the exhibit) relatable. We are really excited to help everyone find their own personal connection to this.”

The Air Force Museum offers free admission and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

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