PENSACOLA, Fla. The first aircraft designated "Navy One," used to fly President Bush to an aircraft carrier to greet sailors returning from the war against Iraq, has made its final landing.
The S-3B Viking was flown to Pensacola Tuesday from North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego and will go on permanent display Thursday at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
Many presidential planes have used the call sign "Air Force One," but there never was a "Navy One" until Bush climbed aboard the anti-submarine plane for his flight to the USS Abraham Lincoln, 39 miles off the California coast, on May 1.
"We've wanted an S-3 for a long time," said retired Capt. Robert Rasmussen, the museum's director. "To have one that is so historic is extremely meaningful."
At the museum at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the twin-jet Viking will join a flimsy yellow biplane that Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, flew while training as a naval aviator during World War II.
The dull gray S-3 has "Navy 1" painted on its side and "George W. Bush, commander-in-chief" stenciled under the right cockpit window.
White House officials acknowledged Bush could have taken a helicopter to the Lincoln instead of making a dramatic tailhook landing in the S-3. But officials said the president, who after college flew with the Texas Air National Guard, wanted to experience a carrier landing.
Bush used the visit to declare major combat was over in Iraq before being flown back to shore by helicopter.
Some Democrats in Congress complained that the trip, with the president decked out in Navy flight gear, had political overtones and that landing in a jet was a waste of taxpayer money.
The aircraft, one of the Navy's first operational S-3s, entered service 29 years ago. It is the first to be retired, said Capt. James Kelly, the pilot for its final flight and commander of Sea Control Wing Pacific.
During a brief ceremony, Rasmussen credited Kelly for making sure the museum received the first Navy One.
"I was, frankly, just shooting for the president's flight gear," Rasmussen said.