NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Time was, the only way to guarantee a seat on Air Force One was to get 270 electoral votes. But for the next six weeks, thanks to an organization called the Children’s Democracy Project, all it will take is a drive to Quonset Point and $17.50 if you’re adult, or $10 if you’re a child aged 5 to 12.
The project has built a life-size replica of Air Force One, taking a Boeing 747 and rebuilding its interior to match the iconic presidential jet. It will be parked at the Quonset State Airport at 150 Airport Road and open to the public until Oct. 31. Then it will be pushed onto a barge and floated to New York City and after a stay there, on to Washington, D.C.
And if you are one of the first 3,000 Rhode Islanders to go online and order tickets, you will get in for free.
Matthew Blanchette, spokesman for the Children’s Democracy Project, said tickets can only be purchased online, at www.airforceoneexperience.com. None will be sold at the site. The goal is to keep the number of people in the plane at one time to between 25-50, so everyone will be able to move around.
Blanchette said tickets are set for specific time slots to prevent overbooking and ensure a manageable flow of visitors through the plane.
The aircraft isn’t the only attraction at the airport. The exhibit is intended to take a look at the different types of transportation the nation’s past chief executives have used through the centuries.
Visitors will see a copy of a 1791 Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser newspaper with President George Washington’s travel schedule, a handwritten letter from President Abraham Lincoln on the importance of Democracy, a 1960 Lincoln Continental limousine from President John F. Kennedy’s motor pool and a chair Kennedy used while on traveling on his version of Air Force One.
Ari Scharf, president of Franklin Exhibits, which owns the plane, said he hoped the plane, the car and the chair would remind visitors of the human side of the presidents. The airborne oval office is there, as is the plane’s medical annex that could serve as an operating room. They can see the First Family’s quarters and imagine that a president, but not George Washington, slept there.