Post-JFK Assassination Air Force One Flight Deck Recording
The Raab Collection has donated an original audiotape recording to the National Archives that includes taped conversations on President Kennedy's official airplane, "Air Force One," during its flight following his assassination on November 22, 1963. The conversations were between pilots and other individuals on the flight and various individuals in Washington, DC, on the flight back from Dallas, TX, to Andrews Air Force Base. It is two hours and 22 minutes long.
A digitized version of the entire two-hour-and-22-minute recording is now available online from the following websites:
Reference copies of the recordings are also available for on-site researchers in the following National Archives research rooms:
- National Archives at College Park, MD
- John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, MA
- Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, TX
The Raab Collection recently discovered two ¼” open-reel audiotapes containing identical excerpts from the Air Force One flight on November 22, 1963, among the papers and other memorabilia of Army General Chester "Ted" Clifton, Jr. General Clifton served as senior military aide to President John F. Kennedy and had received the tapes from the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). The original audiotape recording is described as "Radio Traffic involving AF-1 in flight from Dallas, Texas, to Andrews AFB on November 22, 1963."
The conversations were captured by the WHCA, which routed all phone calls and radio traffic. The tape also includes communication between the WHCA and a second aircraft of the Presidential fleet, known as 86972 (by its tail number), which was en route to Tokyo at the time of the assassination with members of the President's cabinet.
The recording includes references to new code names and incidents. Among them are a private conversation by head of the Secret Service Jerry Behn about the disposition of the President's body; an expanded conversation about how to remove the body from the plane and where to take it; an urgent effort by an aide to Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay to reach General Clifton; and attempts to locate various Congressmen from Texas.
The National Archives Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library has a different version of the recording, and is approximately 40 minutes shorter.
General reference inquiries can be directed to the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Research Room at (301) 837-0526 or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.