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Fly to presidential librariesFly to presidential libraries

Completing a “collection” of places to see could be one way to organize your travel, such as visiting all the national parks, all the state capitals, all the Major League Baseball stadiums, or all the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration's Presidential Libraries. Convenient for general aviation pilots, the presidential libraries are located near airports.

  • Inside the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Air Force One seems ready to blast out of the glass wall into the sky. Photo by Mike Fizer.
  • At the William J. Clinton Presidential Center & Park, the main gallery is modeled after the Long Room of Trinity College, Dublin. Photo by Stuseeger, Wikimedia Commons.
  • Dwight Eisenhower’s boyhood home is part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum complex in Abilene, Kansas. Photo by Jim Bowen.
  • On November 4, 1991, Lady Bird Johnson, President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, President Richard Nixon, Pat Nixon, President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush posed in the replica of the Oval Office during the opening of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley, California. It was the first time in U.S. history that five U.S. Presidents gathered in the same place. Photo by David Valdez, NARA.
  • “The Day the Wall Came Down,” a statue of horses leaping over pieces from the Berlin Wall, stands on the plaza of the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum in College Station, Texas. The statue refers to the fall of the wall in 1989, when George H.W. Bush was President of the United States. Photo by CC by 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

For every president since Herbert Hoover, a presidential library has been established in each president’s home state by the National Archives and Records Administration. Thirteen have been completed; the upcoming Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum is the fourteenth (libraries and museums have been established for other presidents, but they are not part of the National Archives and Records Administration Presidential Library system and are instead operated by private foundations, state governments, or historical societies). Each presidential library is not a traditional library but a museum and a repository for artifacts, gifts of state, and documents available for study. Presidential libraries and museums, like their holdings, belong to the American people without regard for political considerations or affiliations. For history buffs, visiting all the presidential libraries can be extremely rewarding, and you can fly to airports near each one. Here’s a list of museums and the closest GA airports with transportation via rental or courtesy car.

  1. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, 15 miles east of Iowa City Municipal Airport.
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, 16 miles west of the uncontrolled Sky Acres Airport and 12 miles north of the controlled Dutchess Co. Airport.
  3. Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, 15 miles east of Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport under the Class B, 16 miles north of Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport, and 17 miles northwest of East Kansas City Airport.
  4.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s wheelchair stands beside the desk in his study at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, New York. Photo by Adam Jones.Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas, 3 miles east of Abilene Municipal Airport.
  5. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, 20 miles northeast of Norwood Memorial Airport.
  6. Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, 9 miles north of Class C Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
  7. Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, 16 miles east of Fullerton Municipal Airport, which is also near Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.
  8. Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 14 miles northwest of Class C Gerald R. Ford International Airport and 32 miles northeast of West Michigan Regional Airport. The presidential library is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 10 miles north of Ann Arbor Municipal Airport.
  9. Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, 13 miles south of DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and 13 miles east of Fulton County Airport-Brown Field.
  10. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, 22 miles northeast of Camarillo Airport. AOPA Contributor Barry Schiff gives you an inside look at an iconic part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library—the SAM 27000 Air Force One.
  11. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, located on University of Massachusetts, Boston campus, is the only presidential library in New England and commemorates the first U.S. President of Irish and/or Roman Catholic background. First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy brought an iconic glamour to the White House. This pink hat-coat ensemble was worn during her tour of India in 1962. Photo by InSapphoWeTrust, flickr.com.George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas, 1 mile east of Easterwood Field Airport.
  12. William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas, 2 miles west of Class C Bill & Hillary Clinton National/Adams Field Airport.
  13. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas, 5 miles east of Dallas Love Field.
  14. Barack Obama Presidential Library in Chicago, Illinois, 15 miles east of Chicago Midway International Airport. According to the Obama Foundation, it will become the first completely digital library, with no paper records stored on site, and the former president says the facilities are envisioned as functioning like a community center to provide a “brighter future” for the south side of Chicago.

Obama also commented that there is a tendency to see Presidential Libraries as “a monument to the past, a little bit of ego-tripping.” Instead, he wanted a building that “looked forward, not backward, and would provide a place to train future leaders to make a change in their communities, countries and the world.”

The best Presidential Libraries do both. They present past presidencies, in the context of national and world events at that time, to help us understand our world today. And they inspire us to work together to provide a better future for all. More information is available for 11 other presidential libraries outside the National Archives and Records Administration that predate Hoover.

Crista Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy has been flying around the United States with her pilot-husband Fred and their children since 1995, and writing about fun places to fly since 2006. Her favorite places to explore are the backcountry strips of Idaho and Utah's red rock country. She currently lives in Idaho and serves as both the managing editor of Pilot Getaways magazine and editor of The Flyline, the monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association.
Topics: US Travel, Travel

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