DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – This Presidents’ Day was especially presidential for some in the Miami Valley. Visitors to the Museum of the United States Air Force climbed aboard former Air Force One aircrafts and heard firsthand accounts from former crew members.
The museum featured former pilots, maintenance workers, a crew chief and former museum curator.
Lew Newhard flew the famed SAM 26000 when it became Air Force Two in 1990.
“This was my favorite airplane in all of my 23 years of flying in the Air Force,” the retired Major said.
Former crew chief Danny Bowen added, “It was a unique honor and not many people get to do that.”
Between all of Monday’s guest speakers, the crew members collectively served under every administration between Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton. Bowen maintained Air Force One and flew with the crew on overseas trips.
Newhard and former pilot and instructor Don Brown both manned the cockpit for vice presidents, high ranking congress members and ambassadors.
Newhard recalled flying then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney shortly after Iraqi troops vacated Kuwait in 1991. Cheney received special permission to fly low over the so-called “Highway of Death” or “Road to Basra” after troops decimated retreating Iraqi forces.
“All of the wreckage was still smoldering and it was just carnage,” Newhard said. “That was a moment I’ll never forget.”
Brown remembered high stakes trips shuttling diplomats during the Mideast peace process during the Carter administration.
All of the speakers shared their stories with museum visitors and answered questions about the aircrafts and their protocols.
Brown said the day was an opportunity to preserve history for future generations.
“It’s a history museum, it’s an art museum, it’s a technology museum,” Brown said.Grab the FREE WDTN News App for iPhone or Android. Stay up to date with all the local news, weather and sports as well as live newscasts and events as they happen. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest news, weather and sports.