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Can’t make it to the Seattle Museum of Flight to view the original Air Force One? You can now explore a 3D model online.
The Boeing 707-120 was the first presidential plane, delivered in 1959 and known as SAM (Special Air Missions) 970. Through its many years of service, the plane carried Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, and though it was replaced in 1962 (by a newer Boeing VC-137C), it remained in the presidential fleet until 1996. (Fun fact: before becoming the first Air Force One, the plane on display was Operation Lida Rose, a CIA spy plane so secret that not even Eisenhower knew about it.)
Now, you can take a virtual walk-through to check out the original configuration, first flown by Eisenhower. If you have a Google Cardboard or Samsung VR device, you can even explore a 360-degree version of the model.
You’ll spot the usual features like galleys, bathrooms and coach seats for the press corps, but keep an eye out for the presidential touches as well; there’s the commanding desk at the center of the plane, a “state-of-the-art” communications system and, toward the cockpit (just to the left), a safe where nuclear codes were kept. According to Wired, each president added his own touch, like a hat holder for LBJ and a pipe rack for JFK.
This plane is decidedly low-tech compared to today’s Air Force One, which includes military-grade communications, expanded accommodations and even a surgical space (it might rival The Residence on Etihad). Still, in the 50s, this aircraft was a technological and engineering breakthrough that allowed US presidents and dignitaries to travel longer in style and ease.
Featured image courtesy of REPORTERS ASSOCIES via Getty Images.
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