““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Tour the ultimate business jet
Now anyone can take a seat on Air Force One. The Boeing 707 that served as the "flying White House" for seven U.S. presidents from 1973 through 2001 is on display and ready for boarding at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles.
Reagan, who logged more hours on the jet than any other president, called it "a better office than any I have." He used it to travel to 150 American cities and 26 foreign countries. Nicknamed "Spirit of '76," the jet carried Reagan to Reykjavik and Moscow, for meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev; and to Berlin, where he famously challenged Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" It also transported him to Washington, for his first inauguration; and to California, when his presidency ended in 1989.
After Reagan left office, he said that he hoped to someday place the aircraft at his Presidential Library. When the Air Force agreed to cooperate, a Boeing Company crew disassembled the jet, trucked it to the library and reassembled it in the $32 million Air Force One Pavilion.
By all accounts, the display does an excellent job of evoking the jet's era. Stocked with a 1980s fax machine, television and VCR as well as an IBM Selectric typewriter, the airplane also contains a Bonn Economic Summit briefing book from 1985, Presidential china and jars of Reagan's beloved jellybeans.
Also at the pavilion are a President Johnson-era Marine One helicopter and an exhibit about Presidential air travel through the years-from FDR's Dixie Clipper to the Boeing 747s that President George W. Bush employs. For more information, call (800) 410-8354 or visit
Air Force One, by the Numbers
The Boeing 707 that served as Air Force One for seven presidents flew more than 1.1 million nautical miles on 445 Presidential missions. Ronald Reagan logged nearly half those miles, while Jimmy Carter racked up 247,000. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and the first President Bush also employed the jet extensively, while Bill Clinton flew only about 4,350 nautical miles on it. The current President Bush used it just for a single 290-mile roundtrip from Waco to San Antonio, Texas, in 2001, after which the Air Force retired it. The jet (tail number 27000) had a range of 6,200 nautical miles, a maximum speed of 470 knots and a maximum altitude of 42,000 feet.