Nancy and President Reagan boarding Air Force One. Source: University of Texas archives

Few non-profit entities have the scope and aggressive mission of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. It is chartered to continue the legacy of a U.S. President including his guiding principles of individual liberty, economic opportunity, global democracy and national pride.

Located in Simi Valley, California, the Foundation is a non-partisan organization which sustains the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, the Reagan Center for Public Affairs, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center and its internationally recognized, award-winning Discovery Center.

The library and museum houses over 55 million pages of Gubernatorial, Presidential and personal papers as well as over 40,000 gifts and artifacts chronicling the lives of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. It also encompasses the final resting place of America’s 40th President.

What may seem out of place is the very popular Air Force One Pavilion.

Air Force One Pavilion. Source: Wikipedia

To understand the role of the Air Force One Pavilion at the Reagan Library, you need to realize President Reagan’s dedication to face-to-face diplomacy. Traveling extensively, Reagan was able to forge the relationships that lead to his achievements in global peace and democracy. In the Air Force One Pavilion you are able to board the same plane that flew President Reagan over 660,000 miles visiting 26 countries and 46 of the 50 United States of America. This President used Air Force One as a formidable tool in executing his political and diplomatic goals.

Known as the Flying White House, this specially outfitted Boeing 707 aircraft carrying the tail number 27000, served sevenU.S.Presidents including Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush. Over the next twenty-eight years the plane would fly 445 missions, 1,440 excursions, and over 1.3 million miles. It would literally fly in and out of history as it ferried these seven Presidents to the events and places that would shape the world.

The concept for designating specific military aircraft to carry a U.S. President was first considered in 1943 when concern arose about relying on commercial aircraft. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the first presidential plane on his trip to the Yalta Conference in 1945. Dubbed the “Sacred Cow,” the converted C-54 Skymaster aircraft was later used by President Harry Truman.

The “Air Force One” call sign was created after a 1953 incident during which a flight carrying President Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the same airspace as a commercial airline flight using the same call sign.

Also located in the Air Force One Pavilion is an exhibit on Presidential motorcades and a display featuring the Marine One helicopter that flew President Johnson.

For more information about the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum and its exhibits, you may wish to view the informative video tour located on the website. Hosted by Emmy and Golden Globe winning Actor Gary Sinise, you are taken on a personal tour through the Reagan Library, with stops in the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One and at the Berlin Wall. Please go to http://www.reaganfoundation.org/reagan-library-video-tour.aspx

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