It carried presidents, cabinet members and even a king. Now, a military VIP transport version of the familiar DC-9 airliner will go on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Douglas VC-9C no. 73-1682 is painted in Raymond Loewy’s bold blue, white and polished aluminum color design commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for planes that carry presidents. It joined the fleet of VIP transports in the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in 1980, and became the primary transport for the vice president, using the callsign Air Force Two. It became Air Force One when Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton used the plane during short-haul domestic travels. Aircraft no. 73-1682 once carried Jordan’s King Hussein within the United States as a guest of the U.S. government.
The U.S. Air Force bought 21 C-9A Nightingale medical evacuation aircraft and three VC-9C VIP transports. The VC-9Cs were a fixture at Andrews, but finished their careers at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., between 2005 and 2010. Other versions included the C-9B Skytrain for the Navy and the C-9K for Kuwait.
Aircraft no. 73-1682 was the only one that had extra fuel tanks and upgraded communications, so it became the vice president’s regular aircraft.
AMC Museum director Michael Leister said the VC-9C demonstrates that airlifters “not only haul beans and bacon and bombs and supplies, we haul passengers.” And in this case, theVC-9C carried America’s leaders.”