© 2022 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kennedy Air Force One Attracts visitors to NMUSAF

IMG_1500.jpg
Jerry Kenney
/

Visitors to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton are getting a look at the inside the plane that carried John F. Kennedy’s body from Dallas to Washington, D.C through December 1st. Kennedy's Air Force One is getting extra attention as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.

It was in the Boeing 707, in 1963, that Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office, while Jackie Kennedy stood by his side, still wearing the pink suit stained in her husband’s blood.  The nation remained in shock after the grim events of that day but Museum historian Dr. Jeff Underwood says what happened on Air Force One was also a very private moment.

"Dislocation and high politics, and power politics – all the world is going on around," says Underwood, "but right here it all becomes very personal again with one woman sitting next to the body of her murdered husband.”

Now, the aisles of the plane are lined in plexiglass to preserve its interior, and for the most part, it’s restored to its original condition, but there are still traces of the modifications the flight crew made that day to accommodate the unusual circumstances.

IMG_1507.jpg
Credit Jerry Kenney
/
Historian, Dr. Jeff Underwood Stands Before Air Force One.

According to the historian, The crew “refused to put [Kennedy's] casket in the cargo hold, so what they did was they pulled the last four seats out of the aircraft and, since they knew they wouldn’t be able to get the casket into the back of the aircraft they took a saw and cut off part of the bulkhead, and they removed it, and put the casket right here so it ran the length of the aircraft.”

The plane, made for Kennedy in 1962, served as Air Force One for the next seven presidents: from Johnson to Clinton. In 1998, it was flown to Wright-Patt, where it is on display today. The exhibit has generated so much interest, the museum has extended the number of days that visitors can walk inside to see the historic plane. 

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.