8. Presidential Travel: Horse & Carriage

Look up — and around. This is what Air Force One looks like once it’s built — but before it’s customized for presidential use. When the plane is delivered in this condition — it takes another four years to customize. We’ll see the finished plane in just a few minutes.

Look at the first panel in front of you: the first chapter of presidential travel. President George Washington, the first man to be freely elected to lead us. His method of travel? There, in the painting: horse and carriage.

What do you think President Washington would think if he stepped aboard this plane?

Look at the painting again. Until then, no leader had ever been answerable to the people. Kings and queens could sit in their palaces and rule however they pleased. That changed with the founding of the United States. Suddenly, you had a national leader who had to “sell himself” to the people. He couldn’t isolate himself like a king — he had to be out there, communicating with the people.

We forget how radical this idea was. And we see it in that painting — a world leader who served the people. History turning upside down: from kings and tyranny to democracy. That’s what we’re seeing here; and it’s why presidential travel matters.

So step forward — and see how presidential travel has evolved in the last 240 years.