Stephen Cannaby, president and owner of Nu-Tek Aircraft Instruments, Inc. of rural Augusta, is currently working on his third Air Force One project. This one may be the most challenging and exciting one so far.
The first project was in 1999 when Cannaby discovered the original, serial number 0001, Boeing 707 Flight Simulator at a local surplus yard. He immediately recognized the importance of his discovery and the extensive restoration began. After the process was completed, the Air Force One Simulator was on display at Wichita's Exploration Place. But the final destination for the simulator in 2007 was at the Air Force One Pavilion of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
The following year Jim Warlick, a nationally-known collector of political memorabilia, commissioned converting part of a Boeing fuselage into a look-alike of Air Force One cockpit and state rooms. Cannaby assembled a team of aviation technicians for the second project.
They remodeled a 53-foot Boeing 727 fuselage and the finished plane section was taken in August to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo.
"We've had good success with Air Force One projects out of Augusta. The Reagan Project was definitely a home run for us," Cannaby said.
On Thursday evening, a 46-foot Boeing 707 Air Force One fuselage was delivered from Gainesville, Ga. to Augusta. The removal of paint and exterior prep work was done in Georgia and now Canneby and his team will begin their assignment.
Cannaby explained that each presidential regime changes Air Force One to meet his own needs.
The goal is to restore the fuselage to the exact configuration of President John F. Kennedy's Air Force One for eventual delivery in November to Love Field in Dallas, Texas for the special 50th anniversary commemoration event.
The Air Force One cockpit and state room will look just like it did when President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy departed Love Field and became part of a motorcade to the heart of Dallas and a tragic destiny.
"History will cross in November when it sits 100 feet away from the actual parking spot of the plane that Kennedy left and the one on which Johnson took his oath to become President," Cannaby advised.
Before the project goes to Dallas in November, Cannaby is hoping the Air Force One fuselage will be featured at the Kansas Aviation Museum's Cockpit-Fest USA 2013.
"Air Force One has always had strong support in Wichita, especially during the 80s and 90s. Due to security reasons, no one could really talk about the work," Cannaby continued, "Now with Boeing going to San Antonio, there is a 'farewell' aspect to consider."
The project is currently being housed in the large empty service building at the south end of the Frye Autos location on W. 7th. Cannaby has set the project completion target at the end of April.
Page 2 of 2 - The Kennedy Air Force One Exhibit is being funded by Jim Warlick and the America Presidential Experience, a unique traveling presentation of exhibits that celebrates and brings to life the American presidency in an entertaining and educational format. For more information on American Presidential Experience, go to: http://presidentialexperience.com.