SAM 26000 was the first of two Boeing VC-137C's (B-707 customized for VIP transport) to serve as Air Force One. Technically “Air Force One” is the designation of any aircraft carrying the President of the United States, however, SAM 26000 was the longest serving and most historic of the aircraft and the first to fly with the now familiar livery.
The aircraft entered service on November 10, 1962 with its first flight carrying President John F. Kennedy. Just over a year later it became part of the background of the tragic events in Dallas.
The aircraft remained in service during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s five-year term logging some 1,523,000 miles.
President Nixon had the interior completely redesigned to suit his taste and preferred to use this aircraft even after the arrival of its successor SAM 27000 in December 1972. This was the aircraft that carried President Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972.
By 1973 it was now the back up to SAM 27000 and in January of that year carried the body of President Johnson from Texas to Washington D.C. for the state funeral and back to Texas. It has the distinction of carrying two Presidents to their final resting places.
SAM 26000 continued in service until 1998 frequently used by the Secretary of State on diplomatic missions. It last flew as “Air Force One” in January 1998 when it carried President Bill Clinton due to SAM 27000 having gotten stuck in mud. It was officially retired a few days later after 36 years of service.
In May 1998, it was flown to the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio where it remains on display today in the museum’s Presidential Hangar.