- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001

WACO, Texas (AP) — The Boeing 707 that carried Richard Nixon to California after his resignation and took Jimmy Carter to Germany to greet American hostages from Iran took its final flight yesterday as Air Force One.

President Bush's brief trip to San Antonio for a speech to the American Legion was his first flight aboard the Boeing 707-353B, known by the tail number 27000 — and as Air Force One when a president was aboard.

"It will carry no more presidents, but it will carry forever the spirit of American democracy," Mr. Bush said.

A retirement ceremony in San Antonio was canceled because of heavy rain there. The event was moved to a hangar at Texas State Technical College near Waco instead.

No. 27000 flew 444 missions as Air Force One, covering more than 1 million miles. It served seven presidents, starting with Mr. Nixon, and was used most by Ronald Reagan. The 707 will occupy a new hangar at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif.

"It will remind us of Ronald Reagan's achievements for peace and international security and permanently symbolize the soaring spirit of this great man and our great country," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush roamed the aircraft as soon as he boarded it yesterday morning, telling reporters that he had never been on it. Presidents now fly mostly aboard Boeing 747s.

The final flight lasted 36 minutes, taking Mr. Bush from San Antonio to Waco.

Mr. Bush spent the trip quietly scanning paperwork at a table with his wife, Laura, while the Air Force crew served lunch of roast beef sandwiches, potato chips, cookies and pink lemonade.

The plane's previous journeys were the stuff of legend.

Mr. Nixon's presidency ended on the plane while Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as president at noon on Aug. 9, 1974, after Mr. Nixon resigned.

Mr. Carter also was a former president when he went to Germany to greet the 52 U.S. hostages, who were freed from Iran as Mr. Reagan was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981.

Mr. Reagan used the plane for his 1987 journey to Berlin, where he urged Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." It also carried Mr. Reagan back to California when he left office in January 1989.

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