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Final flight for retiring 'Air Force One' 707

President Bush, Mrs. Bush
The President and First Lady depart the retiring Boeing 707, which began service in the Nixon Administration.  

WACO, Texas (CNN) -- President Bush's trip to San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday marked the last flight as Air Force One for a Boeing 707 jet that served seven presidents and took part in some of the most historic moments of the past three decades.

The four-engine jetliner, bearing tail number 27000, was retired and honored by President Bush at a ceremony at an airfield in Waco after he and first lady Laura Bush returned from San Antonio, where the president addressed the American Legion convention.

The plane had served as a backup to the Boeing 747 that now fulfills the primary duties of Air Force One.

The history of Air Force One
Facts about the soon-to-be-retired Air Force One plane

This 707 was the airplane that flew President Ronald Reagan to Berlin in 1987, where he famously proclaimed: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

It was also the plane that President Jimmy Carter flew to Germany in early 1981 to meet the 52 Americans held hostage in Tehran at the outbreak of the 1979 Iranian Islamic revolution. And, it ferried President Richard Nixon back home to California upon his resignation from the presidency in 1974, as the probe into the Watergate scandal led toward impeachment.

Bush: "It will carry no more presidents, but it will carry forever the spirit of American Democracy."  

"It will carry no more presidents, but it will carry forever the spirit of American democracy," Bush said Wednesday, and he thanked each of the pilots who flew the plane.

The airplane began its service as Air Force One in 1972, during the Nixon administration. In addition to presidents, it has also served vice presidents, Cabinet secretaries and members of congress. It logged 444 missions as Air Force One, and flew over 1 million miles in the job. The president who used it the most was Reagan, who used the craft as his principal long-range transportation.

"Old 27000," as Bush referred to the craft, will now be taken to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Soon, it will be placed on public exhibit, and visitors will be allowed onboard to tour its extensive cabin.

• The Air Force One Web Site
• Boeing's Air Force One Web Site
• The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

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