Courtesy Air Mobility Command Museum
Ten minutes south of Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, there’s a new bird at the Air Mobility Command Museum on Dover Air Force Base. It’s Air Force Two.
Flown in by its crew in August, the light blue, white and polished aluminum Douglas VC-9 Nightingale was recently retired after 35 years of transporting leaders and dignitaries.
When flying as Air Force Two, it carried Vice Presidents George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Walter Mondale and Dick Cheney. On occasion, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton reclined in its seats, as did first ladies from Rosalynn Carter to Michelle Obama.
Air Force Two is the latest winged retiree to find a home in the museum, which restores and preserves aircraft that helped shape our country’s history. It’s in good company.
There are 28 other planes in the collection, including an immaculately restored C-47A that dropped paratroopers into St. Mere-Eglise, France, on D-Day and the first jet-powered cargo plane.
Groups can tour the museum, guided by one of its 150 volunteers, many of whom have, like the aircraft, served their country.
Requests by groups to tour particular planes are welcome, said museum director Mike Leister.
Dover Air Force Base is probably best known as the nation’s largest military mortuary; remains of soldiers killed overseas are taken there before being returned to their families.
Less well known is what the Air Mobility Command does.
“We take on aerial refueling missions,” Leister said, “and haul cargo, everything from beans and bacon to bullets, all over the world.
“We also haul people,” he said. “World leaders, foreign dignitaries, presidents, generals and vice presidents.”
Air Force Two Tail No. 73-1682’s work is done. It’s come home to rest.