Farewell touchdown for the plane of seven US presidents

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The Independent US

After three decades and a million miles of history, the Boeing 707 that once ferried President Richard Nixon to California after his resignation has flown its last flight as Air Force One.

The aircraft, known by its tail number 27000, was the plane that took former President Jimmy Carter to meet released Iran hostages and it carried Ronald Reagan to Berlin for his famous "tear down this wall" speech.

President George W Bush took two brief flights on it on Wednesday, then officially retired 27000 as Air Force One, sending it to the Reagan Presidential Library in California.

"Any Air Force plane that carries the president bears the name Air Force One," said Bush. "Today, this plane carried a president for the last time, and soon it will be taking its last flight. It will carry no more presidents, but it will carry forever the spirit of American democracy."

The specially-configured Boeing 707-353B entered service in December, 1972, and Nixon was the first president to fly aboard. Since then, the plane has flown 444 missions and more than one million miles. Seven presidents have flown aboard the plane – more than any presidential aircraft.

In August 1974, it took off from Washington as Air Force One with Nixon aboard, but changed call signs midway across the country when Gerald Ford was sworn in as president.

Its replacement, a Boeing 747-200B, flies faster and longer and has modernised facilities.

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