Marine One Helicopter Lands At Permanent Home In Bush Library Pavilion

The helicopter used by President George H.W. Bush was trucked to College Station this week and placed within a 29,000-square-foot facility opening this summer.

Photo via George and Barbara Bush Foundation


A retired Marine One helicopter frequently used during George H.W. Bush’s presidency completed the trip to its final destination Tuesday, February 27, when it was delivered to College Station to be put on display at Bush’s presidential library and museum. The massive aircraft — it weighs 4.65 tons and is 72 feet long — was trucked to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum grounds on Texas A&M University’s west campus. The sight of the helicopter being lifted off the truck and moved into its permanent home in the soon-to-open Marine One/4141 Locomotive Pavilion drew a small crowd of onlookers, as well as staff from the George & Barbara Bush Foundation.

Photo via George and Barbara Bush Foundation

Andrew Card, the foundation’s CEO and a former Secretary of Transportation under Bush, said the president had a “particular affinity” for Marine One. “It usually meant he was going someplace where he wanted to go,” Card said, adding that it sometimes allowed Bush to briefly escape the burden of the presidency, whether it be for a quick trip out of Washington, D.C., or a respite at Camp David. At the same time, Bush often had to step off Marine One and immediately deliver difficult messages to the American public.

“Marine One helicopters actually give definition to the role of the president,” Card said. “There are so many pictures of the president getting on the helicopter on the South Lawn and flying off to make a big decision or to meet with important people, or landing on the South Lawn and getting off the helicopter and making dramatic statements to the American people about something that’s going on in the world.”

Photo via George and Barbara Bush Foundation

Card said both Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush “would be jumping for joy” to know the helicopter would be part of his legacy preserved at the library and museum.

“We’re delighted to share with our visitors how much the president actually traveled and what that means for international and domestic policy,” said Dawn Hammatt, the museum’s director. “To have the macro object to help show the story of the job of the president is really helpful for all of us who want to see these things and really understand what it means.”

Previously an artifact at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia, the Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King will be displayed within the pavilion next to Union Pacific 4141. The locomotive led the funeral train from Houston to College Station in December 2018 when Bush was laid to rest on the museum grounds alongside First Lady Barbara Bush. The Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King was the primary short-range transport aircraft for the President, Vice President, White House cabinet, and staff. Operated by Marine Corps aviators from HMX-1, the Sea King included Day/night/all-weather operations, a self-contained navigation system, GPS, TCAS, survivability systems, and crash-survivable flight information recorder sensor, and carries no weapons. Communications include extensive secure and non-secure communication systems; and EMP hardening.

Hammatt said the helicopter’s arrival will allow construction to wrap up on the new structure adjacent to the main museum building. She said the pavilion could draw as many as 40 percent more annual visitors to the museum.

“The helicopter is a really important component of the presidency, and it allows us to tell a story about the president, and President Bush in particular,” Hammatt said. “We’re really excited to be able to share it with our College Station community.”

The Marine One/4141 Locomotive Pavilion is scheduled to open to the public on June 13. The project is funded through the George & Barbara Bush Foundation’s $50 million Centennial Campaign.

Photo via George and Barbara Bush Foundation


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