Flights of Fancy

The American Presidents blog unintentionally called attention to a piece of presidentish flim-flammery when they quote [but don’t link to] the Reagan Library’s story on how come they have that big plane: “Upon leaving office, President Reagan stated that one day he hoped he would be able to share Air Force One with the American people by placing it at his Presidential Library.” reagan-cockpit-air-force-one.jpgThe full text is here.

No doubt a touching scene, but the library copywriters don’t tell us who this great communication was with.

The Reaganites have a history of colorful accounts of the plane’s acquisition. In 2003 their Director of Communication claimed that the Pentagon was “looking at both us and the Smithsonian, and when we got word of that, we actively sought after it….The story goes that President Reagan once said that he wished that his library could have his main Air Force One. So with that, and since we had the room, and the Smithsonian didn’t, the US Air Force thought it would be a great fit for us.”

That’s implausible. In 2000 the Smithsonian broke ground on an immense annex near Dulles Airport in , opening in 2003. The Reagan Hanger opened in 2005 after a 2001 donation by the Pentagon.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is absolutely vast, with room for a Concorde, the Enola Gay and dozens of other aircraft. This photo gives some perspective on the size:reagan-smithsonian.jpg

[So huge they appear to have snuck Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International into the corner.]reagan-tatlin.gif

The Reagan Library ends up with a tourist draw, reagan-air-force-one.jpgdebate hall and fount of schlock, pedaling about 40 Air Force One related items from the gift-shop. Cocktail coasters are available.reagan-cocktail-coaster.jpg

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