EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – One of the biggest attractions at the Evansville Regional Airport for two days actually comes in the smallest size which is a twin engine plane, that is known as the smallest Air Force One plane on record.
The “Ike Bird” plane was constructed for President Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower to land at his farm around 150 miles outside of Washington D.C.
The main Air Force One being used at the time was too large to land at the airfield near his farm. Some believe the president even flew the plane himself at times, something you don’t see too often in today’s world.
“Since he was a pilot, that wasn’t his job in the military obviously but he was a pilot so it’s highly likely that he flew the airplane himself a little bit,” Allen Benzing, Ike Bird pilot says.
Benzing says even though it only seats six, the plane it a very exhilarating ride.
“It sit’s low to the ground so on takeoff and landing you do get a sensation of moving quite fast but lower to ground also means it’s easier for the passengers to get in and out of so there’s not a concern on how am I going to be able to get into this,” Benzing explains.
The Ike Bird wasn’t President Eisenhower’s only Air Force One but it played it’s part very well.
“It was a slow plane, it went 200 mph for props, that was one of Eisenhower’s planes,” Mark D. Browning, chairman of the Evansville Wartime Museum said. “The other one is a little smaller that didn’t hold as many people.”
Other planes are also on display as well including a B-24 with the hope these planes and historic artifacts will provide a history on what life was like at that time.
“They can get inside these planes,” Browning said. “They can see the massive amount of plane this is. 63,000 pound load.”
The Ike Bird as well as the B-24 will be on display on Thursday as part of the Air Power History Tour. There will also be an opportunity to take a ride on the B-24 as well.