Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Photos: Codename SAM Codenamed Special Air Mission -- or SAM -- , the airliner witnessed more presidential history than any other -- ranging from the tragic to the hilarious.
Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Hide Caption. It supported a mission to open U. S relations with China and flew to secret Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War. But it's probably most closely tied to President John F. Kennedy, who first used it in First lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the president exit SAM in Texas in November , just hours before the president would be assassinated.
Five months earlier, the plane had flown Kennedy to Berlin, where he delivered his historic "I am a Berliner" address. This is likely the most famous photograph ever taken aboard any presidential aircraft. Hours after the attack -- and shortly before SAM left Dallas -- Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president with the first lady at his side. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath, the only woman ever to do so.
At Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, the president's casket was offloaded onto an ambulance from SAM , where it had been placed in the rear of the cabin. The president's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was anxious to board the plane after it arrived. Shown here with the first lady, RFK "leaped up" the airline stairs in a rush to console Mrs. Kennedy, according to historian Steven Gillon.
He "pushed his way down" the aisle past President Johnson "without saying a word. President Johnson is seen here meeting with Sens. Mike Mansfield, left, and J. William Fulbright, far right. All presidents aboard Air Force One used it to multitask. For example, at a campaign stop, LBJ gave an impromptu press conference on the plane while he changed clothes. The aircraft was welcomed by a man Chinese military honor guard. Also attending: former first lady Rosalynn Carter.
They felt "somewhat ill at ease" together, wrote Carter years later. Then Nixon "surprisingly eased the tension," Carter recalled. The men bonded. The trip resulted in a long friendship between bitter election rivals Carter and Ford. Many aviation enthusiasts, aircraft geeks and history buffs see the jet as a national treasure. As Vice President Al Gore put it when he last boarded it in "If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft.
Johnson, who wasn't a shy man, had just finished delivering a stump speech during his presidential election campaign. It's not every day that the president of the United States takes off his shirt and pants while answering your questions about the economy. As Cormier described it, Johnson "shucked off his underwear.
Related story: First Air Force One wastes away in desert. The plane that was carrying Johnson and the reporters that day was special. In a nutshell, a lot of history has taken place aboard that airplane.
Less than a year before his memorable interview, Johnson had become president aboard the very same airplane. It was November 22, -- a date millions of Americans remember well -- when Johnson was sworn in just hours after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. He was sworn in by U. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes, the only woman ever to swear in a U. Photos: Photos: John F.
Kennedy's funeral. John F. Kennedy was assassinated while in a presidential motorcade in Dallas. Matthew's Cathedral for the procession to the cemetery during his funeral on November Kennedy's funeral — Kennedy's flag-draped casket lies in state in Washington.
Kennedy's funeral — John F. Kennedy's flag-draped casket lies in state in Washington. Kennedy's funeral — A horse-drawn caisson bears the body of President John F. Kennedy into Arlington National Cemetery.
See the complete gallery of photos at LIFE. With a newly sworn-in President Johnson aboard, Kennedy's widow, Jacqueline, accompanied the former President's body, which was in a casket that had been placed in the rear of the aircraft.
In , the first meeting between leaders of China and the United States opened the door to diplomatic relations between the two nations, eventually giving Washington geopolitical leverage during arms treaty negotiations with the Soviet Union.
They felt "somewhat ill at ease," Carter wrote years later. And they certainly had their reasons -- especially Carter and Ford. Tension also ran high among staffers aboard the flight. They endured long waits to use the lavatories and got upset about who received bigger cuts of steak at dinner, according to author Ronald Kessler.
Then Nixon "surprisingly eased the tension" with "courtesy, eloquence and charm," Carter revealed in a memoir. Aboard SAM , the two former enemies developed a camaraderie and then a friendship, wrote historian Douglas Brinkley. It carried LBJ's body after his death in , and after Nixon's death in , it ferried his casket home to California. SAM is on display at the Museum of the U. Air Force. Folks who are used to seeing the president fly on giant s might be surprised about the relatively small SAM It seats only about 40 passengers.
A military version of a Boeing , it's a narrow-body, single-aisle, four-engine jetliner. The plane is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio , and you can walk down the aisle and look through plexiglass to see the office where the commander in chief took phone calls. You can also see the area where White House staffers worked during long flights. And, yes, you can see the tiny sleeping quarters where LBJ, um, waved "his towel for emphasis" on that hot day in Photos: U.
Presidents and Air Force One. The U. Click through to see the different airplanes that have served as the President's transportation over the years. President Harry Truman's official aircraft, the Independence, served as the presidential plane for almost six years until Johnson, and President John F.
The plane was a military version of the Boeing Code-named "SAM ," this jet served presidents for more than three decades. President Jimmy Carter waves goodbye as he boards a presidential aircraft on his final day in office in President George H. Bush talks with reporters aboard Air Force One in Bush and Barack Obama.
Clinton deplanes Air Force One in Philadelphia in President George W. A customized military version of this Boeing will serve future Presidents.