Friday, October 12, 2007

Air Force One

On Thursday we headed to Los Angeles for several meetings, and in between those events we decided to visit the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. We have been there on several occasions but had not yet seen Air Force One and the new wing in which it is housed.

Any visit to the library brings good thoughts of former President Reagan. We are humbled and in awe of a man who had such a keen ability to connect and bring people along with his thoughts and ideas, those based in reality. His smile and demeanor exuded warmth and optimism, and the 'awe shucks' attitude seemed quite disarming in the face of adversity. We identified with him as he was a man for the time. We saw a kind man, a gentle man, one with vision, and we believe a great man.

We walked from the main library, down a long corridor, and as we entered the pavilion we were taken aback by the scale. The Boeing 707 and its 145 foot wing span presents itself upon the surrounding panoramic valley and appears ready for take off, except for having to penetrate the 200 foot wide glass wall which it faces. It was a daunting moment, but one filled with great pride. A beautiful sparkling plane! white, shades of blue, and silver with the Presidential seal and the American flag, one which has flown seven of our Presidents and numerous world leaders, a record of history there before us.

First a photo prior to boarding.

We stepped inside Air Force One and as we looked into the flight deck, it was quite unimaginable how one could operate all the controls and buttons which covered nearly every inch of the interior. As we turned back toward the belly of the plane we were reminded to view the "football" that was positioned in the communications area, a facsimile no doubt.

There were separate compartments: first, one for the President, followed by another for the First Lady, a lounge, staff room, and aft passenger areas, all small quarters. In the kitchen was a chocolate cake. The story is that President Reagan always wanted one on board in the event it was someone's birthday!

I was not expecting to see some of the dark paneling which graced the interior, but that was only a momentary observation, for as I walked along and gently placed my hand on the back of a seat or leaned against a door frame, there was the realization that we were being touched by the space, that same area in which our Presidents had occupied. Those were magical moments!

We recommend a visit to this historic place.