Original Air Force One being restored in Bridgewater

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- In March of 2016, the very first Air Force One landed at Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater. The company purchased the plane in 2015, and restored it to fly from Arizona back to the Valley.

The man behind the purchase, Karl Stoltzfus, will be speaking to the Augusta County Historical Society about the progress so far.

Members of Dynamic Aviation worked for almost 7,000 hours to get the plane out of Arizona, but there's still plenty of work to be done.

"It was probably one of the most amazing days of my life," Karl Stoltzfus said of the day the plane landed. "The airplane had not had any serious maintenance for 48 years."

The years in Arizona were a blessing and a curse. The weather protected the aluminum of the plane, but rusted the steel screws.

President Eisenhower was the only president to use this plane, but it had other famous passengers such as Queen Elizabeth, the Shah of Iran, and John Foster Dulles.

"They rescued it from oblivion, and are restoring it and bringing its history back to life," said Nancy Sorrells.

Sorrells is on the board of the Augusta County Historical Society. The Society asked Stoltzfus to speak at their fall meeting, not only because of the national importance of the plane, but the significance it holds here in the Valley.

Eisenhower spent a day in the Shenandoah Valley, specifically Augusta County, during his presidency.

"His mother Ida Stover was born in Augusta County and lived here through her teen years," said Sorrells.

Eisenhower visited his mother's former home as well as former President Woodrow Wilson's birthplace.

Karl Stoltzfus wants to use the airplane to teach about the 1950s. He believes the accurate teaching of history is important.

"It was pretty good years in America, and so we feel like the airplane could be used very successfully to teach young people about that era of the American history."

He hopes the plane will be ready for the public to see in three years.

"It's a piece of American history that needs to be preserved, and it needs to be preserved properly," said Stoltzfus.

The fall meeting of the Augusta County Historical Society will be in the Board of Supervisors room at the Augusta County Government Center, and begins at 3:00 P.M. No pre-registration is required for the event, and it's open to everyone.

For more information, visit http://www.augustacountyhs.org/