Air Force One Model Lands at Nixon Library

The 1/20 scale replica recalls the SAM 26000 that President Nixon flew to China.

PRESIDENTIAL PLANES: It will be difficult to believe that we'll be marking the 10th anniversary of Air Force One's arrival at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley in just a couple of years. Perhaps it was the long period of anticipation that led up to the October 2005 unveiling, particularly among Air Force One enthusiasts, or perhaps it was all of those photos of the epic pavilion slowly coming together that makes us feel as if the world-famous wings have been here for longer than eight years. It has been a good eight years for plane buffs and mavens of U.S. history, all people who've made the journey to walk inside the "Flying White House." But a new Flying White House, of sorts, is ready to go wheels down in Southern California, and this one has a bit of a twist: It's not a full-scale plane but rather an impressive 1/20 scale model of a SAM 26000. Recognize it, documentary lovers? It's the plane that carried President Nixon and his staff to China, and was much in use during the White House years of the Nixon administration.

OPENING REMARKS: The new Nixon Library exhibit debuts in Yorba Linda on Tuesday, Aug. 13 with a bit of pomp. Ed Nixon, President Nixon's younger brother, will make a few remarks, as will Dwight Chapin. Mr. Chapin accompanied the president on the Air Force One that the model evokes on a number of trips, including flights to the Soviet Union and China. And staff member Frank Gannon will also reminisce. Attending the unveiling is free, but you'll need to RSVP. Oh, and if you're wonder how big a 1/20 scale model is, wonder no more: The plane is seven-feet in length. Call it a different way to view an esteemed aircraft, and call it another feather in Southern California's Air Force One cap. Could you view both a model and a boardable plane in one day? Definitely. Drive time between the two presidential libraries is about an hour and a half. Air Force One, of course, could cover that in a fraction of the time, but fans of the White House of the Air likely won't mind going by freeway.

AND THE SAM 26000 TODAY... The plane flew its final mission 15 years ago and is now at the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Previously open to visitors, the SAM 26000 was closed in May due to sequestration.

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