Air Force One replica ready for boarding

WJAR News | By: Bill Rappleye

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A replica of Air Force One is ready to open to visitors at Quonset State Airport. (WJAR)

A replica of Air Force One is ready to open to visitors at Quonset State Airport. (WJAR)

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WJAR) — The jet sitting on the tarmac at Quonset State Airport is a precise replica of Air Force One.

It’s not carrying the president anywhere, it’s a museum. It’s part of the Children's Democracy Project, the brainchild of Ari Scharf.

A press release states: "the Air Force One Experience is focused on connecting children with the principles of American democracy through a relatable and exciting experience…We are so excited to launch this one-of-a-kind educational experience in Rhode Island. We are at a very divisive time in America, and it’s more important than ever to teach children the value of democracy and urge them to embrace their responsibility as future leaders. Kids love trains, planes and automobiles and what better vehicle to teach them than in a Boeing 747 classroom?"

"The idea started about 10 years ago. It took about a little over two years and over 150 different team members," Scharf told reporters Thursday.

The outside of the 747 is painted the same as Air Force One, and with the help of longtime flight steward Howie Franklin, the inside has been recreated exactly like the current aircraft. He says serving for five presidents as steward for 18 years gave him a sense of the power of the appearance of Air Force One.

"It’s something that excites you any place in the world. Any place in the world. If you can imagine you’re the leader of some country and this plane lands, images are vital," he told NBC 10 News.

The plane will remain at Quonset until the end of October and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are required to access the exhibit and can be booked by time slot and must be reserved in advance at the Air Force One Experience website. But there is no charge for the first 3,000 tickets for visitors from each of three states: Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. After those quotas are reached, admission will be $17.50 for adults, and $10 for children.

From Rhode Island, the museum will be moved by barge to New York, and then ultimately its permanent location in Washington D.C.