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Taqueria vending machine? Say hola to Burrito Box

January 10th, 2014 No comments

Until we get Star Trek food replicators and robotic Iron Chefs, foodies will have to settle for Burrito Box vending machines.

Until we get “Star Trek” food replicators and robotic Iron Chefs, foodies will have to settle for Burrito Box vending machines.


(Credit:
Burrito Box)

In Los Angeles, a city full of taquerias and Mexican restaurants, you’d think a vending machine selling burritos at a gas station would be met with eye rolls from foodies and the burrito bourgeois. However, Burrito Box appears to be one of those novelties that even the most jaded hipster can’t help but try. After all, Burrito Box is on Instagram.

The self-proclaimed “world’s first burrito kiosk” (located at Mobile Gas, 8380 Santa Monica Blvd.) sells five kinds of burritos: chorizo sausage with cage-free eggs and cheese; uncured bacon with egg and cheese; roasted potato with egg and cheese; free-range chicken with beans and rice; and shredded beef and cheese. Sour cream, hot sauce, and guacamole sell for extra cost. Burritos are $3 plus tax by credit card.

After ordering the burrito with the touch-screen menu, the machine plays a commercial or music video while it heats up your food at around a minute and 30 seconds.

While this may sound like a tasty twist on an old favorite, reviewers at the site LAist don’t agree. The roasted-potato burrito “didn’t smell like a burrito or anything savory should,” while “the sausage didn’t taste like sausage, and it certainly didn’t taste like chorizo.”

“The bacon flavor came on strong like cheap perfume,” said the reviewer of the uncured bacon burrito. “And when I say ‘bacon flavor,’ I actually mean ‘bacon bits’ flavor.” The free-range chicken burrito came off slightly more favorably: “The cracked black pepper was a nice touch, but generally the filling was bland and it had a sort of canned tomato paste flavor.”

The only positive review was for the shredded beef and cheese burrito. “The other burritos claimed to have jalapenos in them, but this was the only one that had any sort of kick whatsoever.” Overall the burritos were more miss than hits with the discerning LAist reviewers. “Sorry to say, if you’re hoping to get some flavor in most of the burritos, you’re probably going to want to spring for the Tabasco sauce,” one wrote.

While these burritos apparently leave something to be desired, they might still satiate the quick cravings of gas station customers and curious foodies wiling to give Burrito Box a chance. A second Burrito Box is planned for 76 gas station at 10389 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles, according to the locations section of the Burrito Box Web site.

And now that vending machines dispense everything from Mexican food to caviar, steaks, and bike parts, we can’t help but wonder what they’ll be spitting out next.

Here's the Burrito Box in the wild at 8380 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA.

Here’s the Burrito Box in the wild at 8380 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.


(Credit:
Burrito Box)

(Via Los Angeles Times)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/znX6D3E99K4/

AmazonFresh vs. supermarket: A hands-on shopping test

December 17th, 2013 No comments

An AmazonFresh deliveryman scans my bags to confirm their arrival.


(Credit:
Josh Miller/CNET)

In 1999, an online grocery-shipping company caught my attention. As a kid who had absolutely no say in what made the pantry cut, I shouldn’t have cared so much. But the idea of summoning a pile of food through a few mouse clicks was simply magical.

My plan to get Mom onboard — hours of adding items to a virtual grocery cart to await her quick credit card swipe — didn’t quite pay off, however; online grocers never made it into her circle of Internet trust. Besides, she said, “it’s too expensive.” WebVan came and went, and we continued visiting the local supermarket for our weekly food stock.

But Friday, my 14-year-old dream came true. Five years after Amazon launched AmazonFresh in its hometown of Seattle, the service arrived in San Francisco. Without thinking twice, I signed up for the free 90-day trial and began adding my usual items to a virtual grocery cart.

Here’s how it works: If you place an order by 10 a.m., groceries will arrive “by dinner,” while orders placed later in the day will arrive as early as the following morning. For some ZIP codes, you’ll have to be present during a one-hour window to pick up your food, while other areas allow for drop-off delivery. If your order is over $35, delivery is free (but don’t forget to tip your driver.)

The catch is that after the free 90-day trial, AmazonFresh will set you back $300 per year, which also includes Amazon’s regular Prime membership.

CNET’s San Francisco office is nestled in one of the few ZIP codes covered by Fresh, and is also close to a Safeway, a popular supermarket chain mostly found in the western and central states. And me? I’m your typical Bay Area grocery shopper who shops once weekly, likes dollar-off coupons, and tries to shop in season.

Not scientific, but the variables were good enough to run a test that compared price, quality, and shopping experience.

Mom’s complaint was always that online groceries and associated fees were more expensive than Safeway’s prices, so I was surprised and happy to find that when it came to individual items, AmazonFresh is very competitive.

For example, the eggs on Fresh were $3.99, compared with $4.99 at Safeway. Cilantro was 50 cents cheaper at Safeway, but baby carrots were 50 cents cheaper on Fresh.

Still, I had to make sure any instances of lower prices weren’t a fluke. I asked for comment and it turns out that “[Amazon keeps its] prices on grocery items in line with what you’d find at your local supermarket.” The prices I paid, though, are only true for San Francisco. Though all customers see the same prices in an entire metro area, prices will vary from city to city.

So the two sellers are essentially even, but there’s a big, huge $300 elephant in the room — Amazon’s annual fee.

To find out if AmazonFresh’s annual fee is worth it, I had to do a little math. For starters, I already pay $60 yearly for Prime membership, which brings the actual cost of Fresh (for me) down to $240. Then, I calculated my annual gas expense using this handy calculator: $7.78.

On average, the time-honored American tradition of getting in the
car and heading to a supermarket (maybe two for picky shoppers), adds up to about 44 minutes per trip, according to the USDA, not including time spent traveling or planning. It involves traveling no more than 5 miles, and spending an average of $116.52 weekly, according to the Food Marketing Institute.

For me, shopping at AmazonFresh doesn’t quite break even after gas and the included Prime membership, but if time is money (more on that later), AmazonFresh might be worth that extra $232.22 per year.


Shopping in-store allowed me to check produce items before adding them to my cart. (Click to enlarge.)

But there’s more to consider here than price.

Quality
Over the years, I’ve discovered little tricks for ensuring that a fruit or vegetable is just right. I like tomatoes on the firm side, while avocados should give just a little. As for oranges, the heaviest ones are always the juiciest.

Putting trust into the hands of robots and employees who aren’t necessarily as observant isn’t easy. While Amazon does let you choose between “ripe” and “not ripe” avocados, everything else is a gamble.

At Safeway, I followed my usual routine, checking produce for ripeness and quality. There was even a nice employee unpacking bananas who let me choose from his new selection. Freedom to choose was all mine, and chatting with fellow humans didn’t hurt, either.

In the end, my skepticism about online produce was reinforced by the sad, inedible “ripe” avocado I received via Fresh. Several of the vine tomatoes were also too mushy for my liking, echoing the worry I had upon ordering produce online.

Though Amazon will refund unsatisfactory orders, replacing those items would require me to wait until the next day’s delivery, or head to the local store and choose them for myself.

Selection
The variety of local, national, and international grocery items on Fresh is astonishing. A search for tomatoes returns pages of options — canned, fresh, Roma, vine, organic, Hot House, you name it.

Left: Safeway. Right: AmazonFresh.


(Credit:
Josh Miller/CNET)

There’s also an abundant selection of local meats, baked goods, cheese, and even restaurant items that vary by city. Things like fresh, local bread can be ordered with a click.

Sometimes, items (like Clover Organic Milk) are labeled “Out of Stock” without any information about when they’ll become available. This seems to happen most with local items, but those are often available on the following delivery day.

Safeway, on the other hand, had everything on the list. The selection of tomatoes and other produce wasn’t as plentiful, but the run-of-the-mill essentials I needed were there.

Shopping experience
I’ll admit it: I love grocery shopping. But not everyone gets as energized as I do about an activity that consumes nearly an hour weekly (and a whole lot more around the holidays), not including travel time.


(Credit:
Josh Miller/CNET)

AmazonFresh is fantastic for those who want grocery shopping to be a quick sport. After choosing a delivery time and date, the shopping begins. Searching for grocery items is just like shopping on Amazon, user reviews and all. The browser panels are kind of confusing, and search terms can’t be too specific, but I found the items I needed in a snap.

Upon checkout, I was asked to include a tip (with a suggested amount) before confirming the order. Total time: 20 minutes flat.

At 11 a.m. the next day, I went downstairs to my office lobby and waited patiently for my delivery, which was slated to arrive within the hour. As I waited, I found myself wishing Amazon had some sort of delivery-tracking system, or a 10-minute warning via text message.

Finally, at 11:41 a.m., a big green truck rolled up, and out came three large, reusable grocery bags. The bags, each with their own QR code, were scanned with the deliveryman’s smartphone, and the groceries were mine.

Shopping at Safeway after the Fresh experience amplified the differences between online and in-person shopping. Though I had a shopping list and plan of attack, it took me longer to find the items I needed. At one point, I found myself evaluating and squeezing a pile of tomatoes before realizing they were organic, and not the “regular” ones I needed. D’oh.

Picking up a skirt steak wasn’t easy, either. After several minutes of searching for it at the unattended meat counter, I stalked an employee, who then called another employee, who finally came to my rescue. By that time, 10 minutes later, I had, of course, found what I was looking for.

Despite the obstacles, I simply enjoyed shopping in-store. I was surprised to find a buy-one-get-one offer on the shredded cheese, and I had a happy conversation with the woman at the checkstand — there’s an element of spontaneity with an in-person experience that one simply doesn’t get online.

With travel and time spent shopping, getting my groceries at Safeway did set me back nearly an hour, with 41 minutes spent in the store. If time is money, brick-and-mortar grocery shopping is three times the cost.

Of course, Amazon isn’t the first company to tackle online groceries after WebVan’s epic $1.1 billion failure. FreshDirect’s name is already synonymous with online groceries in the New York metropolitan area, shipping pantry and perishable items to hungry doorsteps. After launching in Roosevelt Island in 2002, the company spent the next 10 years expanding to Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, and now serves most New York City addresses.

Amazon’s approach was similar. The company first launched AmazonFresh in its hometown of Seattle, targeting only the densely populated ZIP codes for maximum efficiency and profit. It was only five years later, in June 2013, that its Fresh service made its way to Los Angeles’ most concentrated neighborhoods.

Now that it’s available to arguably one of the more suitable populations on the map, San Francisco, I’ll eagerly await AmazonFresh’s expansion across the bridge to the East Bay, where I can have groceries delivered to my home — at least on those occasions when I’m not planning to feed 20 with fresh vegetable stir-fry.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/JhZJ2kDEkC8/

$6,500 Santa stakeout kit for Christmas black ops

December 9th, 2013 No comments

Santa Stakeout Kit camo suit

Santa won’t see you coming.


(Credit:
OpticsPlanet)

Santa is like the NSA, FBI, and CIA all wrapped up in one jolly red package. He’s slipperier than James Bond and more elusive than Big Foot. He might know when you’re asleep and when you’re awake, but does he know that you just dropped $6,500 on a stakeout kit to catch him?

OpticsPlanet has added the $6,500 Santa Stakeout Kit to its catalog just in time to gear up for the holidays. One of the kit’s key pieces is an Opmod Ghillie Suit in Snow Camo, to help you blend in with your snowy surroundings and reduce the chance of Santa spotting you first.

The kit contains 33 different items, including cold-weather clothing for your frigid nighttime watch outdoors, a tactical field ops watch to track the time, a tactical bottle opener to keep yourself stocked with adult beverages, and walkie-talkies for coordinating with your in-house team members keeping an eye on the fireplace.

Because Santa moves under cover of darkness, you’ll make use of the night-vision pocket monocular, day/night security camera, thermal camera, and motion-sensor digital camera bundle, which should activate the moment Rudolph puts his dainty little hoof down on your roof.

The kit also includes synthetic mule deer female-in-heat scent to attract Santa’s reindeer team. (Despite what you may have heard, it’s possible that his reindeer are a bunch of males.)

One head-scratching inclusion is the Boker USA Bon Appetite Knife. What are you supposed to do with that? It’s probably for dividing your Christmas cookies into bite-size pieces while you wait, but unscrupulous buyers may have their eyes on reindeer steaks for Christmas Day.

Though $6,500 might seem like a lot to spend on an attempt to capture evidence of Jolly Old Saint Nick, OpticsPlanet suggests using the kit at other times of the year for tracking the tooth fairy, locating the Boogeyman, or figuring out what your cat gets up to when it thinks you’re not looking.


Santa Stakeout Kit

Use with caution. He knows when you’ve been good or bad. (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
OpticsPlanet)

(Via Geekologie)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/-xUbQnZKzJY/

Thor as metal-factory worker? Superheroes get part-time jobs

November 8th, 2013 No comments

Thor working in a metal factory
(Credit:
Chow Hon Lam)

Crime doesn’t pay, but neither does fighting it. Aside from Batman and Iron Man, most superheroes don’t have trust funds to fall back on to pay the rent. So where do the likes of Spider-Man, Thor, and Captain America go to earn a living wage?

That’s exactly what Malaysian illustrator Chow Hon Lam asked himself when he designed these humorous illustrations of superheroes on the job in the everyday world. In an interview with Enfuzed, the owner of online print and T-shirt store Flying Mouse 365 explained what made him decide to show superheroes in jobs many mere mortals share.

The “Part Time Job” project actually started with a batch of six superheroes with their part-time jobs, surprisingly it received very good responses from people. I decided to continue this project and create more “part time jobs” for them. Those superheroes definitely can do more jobs with their abilities beside save the world.

The jobs make perfect sense. Flash delivering pizzas! The Human Torch covered in rotisserie chickens! Spider-Man webbing tennis rackets! Mr. Fantastic picking apples off tall trees! Wolverine makes an excellent butcher (not to mention tree trimmer, hairstylist, or ice sculpture artist). Superman working for the U.S. Postal Service might actually save it from being totally replaced by e-mail and FedEx. Though, if anyone ever sent Kryptonite mail art, look out!

However, Thor hammering steel in a metal factory seems rather boring when he could be using that hammer to build bridges or tenderize steaks as a Top Chef!

What about the ladies? Wonder Woman could lasso the truth during IRS audits or start her own invisible airline. Storm could be the only meteorologist we’d believe. And Emma Frost would make a stellar marriage counselor or pro poker player. Where else would reading minds come in handy?

Of course, some superheroes might want to telecommute. The last thing we’d want is The Hulk or Thing working behind the counter in a Faberge Egg gift shop.

It’s endearing to see bigger-than-life superheroes in our shoes for a change. We might not be multimillionaires with flashy costumes, telekinetic powers, and an evil nemesis to fight. But it’s fun to see thankless jobs done by those heroes who might need a break from the danger and the glitz. Aquaman washing dishes may just be our Moment of Zen.

Spider-Man webbing tennis rackets
(Credit:
Chow Hon Lam)

Superman delivering mail
(Credit:
Chow Hon Lam)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/0ev9yzcfWLU/

Sansa Stark adopts a direwolf for real

August 20th, 2013 No comments

Sansa Stark and direwolf

Sansa Stark strolls with her direwolf.


(Credit:
HBO)

Possible spoilers ahead if you’ve read or watched hardly any of the series: One of the early devastating scenes played out in the “Game of Thrones” television series is when Ned Stark dispatches his daughter Sansa’s innocent direwolf to please the vengeful queen.

That direwolf was played by Zunni, a Mahlek Northern Inuit dog. Like many human actors on the series, her part was extremely limited before succumbing to the story line’s death toll.

Just because Zunni’s services were no longer needed on set doesn’t mean she isn’t still connected to the series. The mother of actor Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on the show, managed to talk Zunni’s owners into letting her adopt the pooch.

“Growing up I always wanted a dog, but my parents never wanted one. We kind of fell in love with my character’s direwolf, Lady, on set. We knew Lady died and they wanted to re-home her. My mum persuaded them to let us adopt her,” Turner told the Coventry Telegraph.

Let’s try to dissect the levels of awesome here. We have a delightful fictional world/real-life crossover involving a heartwarming dog adoption. “Game of Thrones?” Check. Fluffy animal? Check. Happily-ever-after ending? Check.

Even though most of us bawled our eyes out when Lady got done in, we now know the celebrity dog is living a charmed life, likely feasting on Milk-Bones and unicorn steaks. For a brief, shining moment, the “Game of Thrones” universe is just a little less darker than usual.

(Via Geekosystem)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/TkkkNEg132E/

Yum! Tuck into this 12-course meal in a can

12-course meal in a can

All in One: from ravioli to rib eye steak, conveniently packaged.


(Credit:
Christopher Godfrey)

Astronauts used to have it really bad when it came to orbital dining options. Freeze-dried powders and cube food made for pretty depressing fare.

Now they have everything from fresh fruit to scrambled eggs. But what they really need is this 12-course meal in a can.

British design student Christopher Godfrey doesn’t seem to have been thinking of spacefaring diners when he conceived All in One, a layered gourmet feast in a can. Doubtless the container would be unsuitable for space, but think of the gross-out fun you could have with this in zero-g.

Indeed, his description of this head-scratcher, apparently inspired by Andy Warhol, suggests it’s all about earthbound waste, not heavenly vittles.

“Contemporary culture means on every trip into town, you’re bombarded with gimmicks galore,” writes Godrey, who created the project as part of his graphic design dissertation at London’s Kingston University.

“Gimmicks often diminish their products to turn a profit, downgrading on the content but selling you something that’s ’50 percent more.’ The All in One 12-course meal offers the average Joe the chance to dine like royalty without the washing up.”

What’s on the menu in this can? Peel back the tab and feast on this:

  • A selection of local cheeses with sourdough
  • Pickled Kobe beef with charred strawberry
  • Ricotta ravioli with a soft egg yolk
  • Shiitake mushroom topped with filled peppers
  • Halibut poached in truffle butter in a coconut crepe
  • Risotto-foraged ramps, prosciutto, and fresh parmesan
  • French onion soup with fresh thyme and gruyere cheese
  • Roast pork belly and celeriac root puree
  • Palate cleanser, pear ginger juice
  • Rib eye steak with grilled mustard greens
  • Crack pie with milk ice cream on a vanilla tuile
  • French canele with a malt barley and hazelnut latte

For a closeup of the glistening layers of goodness, check out this photo. Mouth watering yet?

“I’m trying to make a statement about consumerism,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

“The All in One meal stems from researching gimmicks employed by corporations to get you to buy their product. Each individual layer is made of processed-down edible food that was then added to gelatines. They were individually poured, one by one on top of each other — with each layer taking around 60 minutes to process and set.”

So what does it taste like?

“I’m a fussy eater so I couldn’t face taking a bite,” he added. Any takers?

12-course meal in a can
(Credit:
Christopher Godfrey)

(Via io9)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/Jz7twvMEsvU/

Most important jet you can’t see


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This a href='http://www.boeing.com/boeing/history/boeing/airforceone.page' target='_blank'Boeing VC-137C/a is the first custom-built jet to serve as Air Force One. Codenamed Special Air Mission -- or SAM -- 26000, the airliner witnessed more presidential history than any other -- ranging from the tragic to the hilarious. It sits in the Presidential Gallery at thea href='http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=570' target='_blank' National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio/a. The gallery was closed to visitors in May 2013 because of forced budget cuts. Click through the photos for more on this one-of-a-kind aircraft.This Boeing VC-137C is the first custom-built jet to serve as Air Force One. Codenamed Special Air Mission — or SAM — 26000, the airliner witnessed more presidential history than any other — ranging from the tragic to the hilarious. It sits in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The gallery was closed to visitors in May 2013 because of forced budget cuts. Click through the photos for more on this one-of-a-kind aircraft.

SAM 26000 may be the most important historical airplane in the world, said Air Force historian Jeff Underwood. It supported a mission to open U.S relations with China and flew to secret Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War. But it's probably most closely tied to President John F. Kennedy, who first used it in 1962.SAM 26000 may be “the most important historical airplane in the world,” said Air Force historian Jeff Underwood. It supported a mission to open U.S relations with China and flew to secret Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War. But it’s probably most closely tied to President John F. Kennedy, who first used it in 1962.

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the president exit SAM 26000 in Texas in November 1963, just hours before the president would be assassinated. Five months earlier, the plane had flown Kennedy to Berlin, where he delivered his historic I am a Berliner address.First lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the president exit SAM 26000 in Texas in November 1963, just hours before the president would be assassinated. Five months earlier, the plane had flown Kennedy to Berlin, where he delivered his historic “I am a Berliner” address.

This is likely the most famous photograph ever taken aboard any presidential aircraft. Hours after the attack -- and shortly before SAM 26000 left Dallas -- Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president with the first lady at his side. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath, the only woman ever to do so.This is likely the most famous photograph ever taken aboard any presidential aircraft. Hours after the attack — and shortly before SAM 26000 left Dallas — Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president with the first lady at his side. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath, the only woman ever to do so.

At Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, the president's casket was offloaded onto an ambulance from SAM 26000, where it had been placed in the rear of the cabin. The crew didn't want President Kennedy's casket to travel in the cargo hold, said then-flight engineer Joe Chappell on a href='http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/102647-1http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZtWB-4s-R4' target='_blank'C-SPAN in 1998/a. So they made room for it in the passenger compartment. To create the extra space, Chappell said he helped remove two rows of seats and a separating wall.At Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, the president’s casket was offloaded onto an ambulance from SAM 26000, where it had been placed in the rear of the cabin. “The crew didn’t want President Kennedy’s casket to travel in the cargo hold,” said then-flight engineer Joe Chappell on C-SPAN in 1998. “So they made room for it in the passenger compartment.” To create the extra space, Chappell said he helped remove two rows of seats and a separating wall.

The president's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was anxious to board the plane after it arrived. Shown here with the first lady, RFK leaped up the airline stairs in a rush to console Mrs. Kennedy, according to historian Steven Gillon. He pushed his way down the aisle past President Johnson without saying a word. Johnson fumed that Kennedy would board the plane without even acknowledging him, Gillon wrote in The Kennedy Assassination, 24 Hours After.The president’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was anxious to board the plane after it arrived. Shown here with the first lady, RFK “leaped up” the airline stairs in a rush to console Mrs. Kennedy, according to historian Steven Gillon. He “pushed his way down” the aisle past President Johnson “without saying a word.” Johnson “fumed that Kennedy would board the plane without even acknowledging him,” Gillon wrote in “The Kennedy Assassination, 24 Hours After.”

President Johnson is seen here meeting with Sens. Mike Mansfield, left, and J. William Fulbright, far right. All presidents aboard Air Force One used it to multitask. For example, at a 1964 campaign stop, LBJ gave an impromptu press conference on the plane while he changed clothes.President Johnson is seen here meeting with Sens. Mike Mansfield, left, and J. William Fulbright, far right. All presidents aboard Air Force One used it to multitask. For example, at a 1964 campaign stop, LBJ gave an impromptu press conference on the plane while he changed clothes.

In 1972, SAM 26000 ferried President Richard Nixon to Beijing on a groundbreaking mission to open U.S. relations with the People's Republic of China. The aircraft was welcomed by a 350-man Chinese military honor guard.In 1972, SAM 26000 ferried President Richard Nixon to Beijing on a groundbreaking mission to open U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China. The aircraft was welcomed by a 350-man Chinese military honor guard.

In 1981, Nixon and fellow ex-presidents Gerald Ford, left, and Jimmy Carter, right, flew SAM 26000 to the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. (Also attending: former first lady Rosalynn Carter.) They felt somewhat ill at ease together, wrote Carter years later. Then Nixon surprisingly eased the tension, Carter recalled. The men bonded. The trip resulted in a long friendship between bitter election rivals Carter and Ford.In 1981, Nixon and fellow ex-presidents Gerald Ford, left, and Jimmy Carter, right, flew SAM 26000 to the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. (Also attending: former first lady Rosalynn Carter.) They felt “somewhat ill at ease” together, wrote Carter years later. Then Nixon “surprisingly eased the tension,” Carter recalled. The men bonded. The trip resulted in a long friendship between bitter election rivals Carter and Ford.

The Presidential Gallery where SAM 26000 is on display is closed to visitors due to forced sequestration budget cuts by Congress. For many aviation enthusiasts, aircraft geeks and history buffs, that's a shame. They see the jet as a national treasure. As Vice President Al Gore put it when he last boarded it in 1998: If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft.The Presidential Gallery where SAM 26000 is on display is closed to visitors due to forced “sequestration” budget cuts by Congress. For many aviation enthusiasts, aircraft geeks and history buffs, that’s a shame. They see the jet as a national treasure. As Vice President Al Gore put it when he last boarded it in 1998: “If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft.”


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(CNN) — It may be the most historic plane in the world: Special Air Mission 26000, SAM for short. Not familiar? Maybe you know its nickname. Back in its heyday the sleek, blue and white airliner was called Air Force One.

This ain’t just ANY Air Force One. SAM 26000 saw more historic events than any other — ranging from the tragic to the hilarious. A national treasure, the airliner now sits in the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio.

But you can’t see it. It’s off limits to visitors. For many history buffs and aviation geeks, that’s a cryin’ shame.

If things were different, visitors could walk down the same cabin aisles where Jacqueline Kennedy mournfully sat beside her husband’s casket en route from Dallas to Washington. You could stand in the exact spot where the only woman to preside over a presidential oath swore in Lyndon Johnson as commander-in-chief. Examine with your own eyes the on-board suites that carried President Richard Nixon to Beijing, where he cracked open U.S. relations with China.

For more than 30 years, the 100-ton plane transported some of the most powerful figures on the planet — and once it even carried a history-making ex-White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. Yep, SAM 26000 has seen a few eyebrow-raising situations over the years.

Oh my, if only this plane could talk.

“A person could justify that it’s the most important historical airplane in the world,” Air Force historian Jeff Underwood said on the phone, just a stone’s throw away from the jet. “It’s a place in history that moves. Every time I get on board, that’s what I think about.”


Air Force One heading to auction

Drawing more than a half-million visitors each year, the world-famous Oshkosh, Wisconsin, airshow sounds like Woodstock for aviation geeks. Except more organized and louder.Drawing more than a half-million visitors each year, the world-famous Oshkosh, Wisconsin, airshow sounds like Woodstock for aviation geeks. Except more organized and louder.

The Team RV aerobatic squadron is slated to perform at this July's Oshkosh airshow. Team RV's homebuilt aircraft -- designed by Richard VanGrunsven -- perform at speeds over 200 mph while pulling g-forces up to 6 times normal gravity.The Team RV aerobatic squadron is slated to perform at this July’s Oshkosh airshow. Team RV’s homebuilt aircraft — designed by Richard VanGrunsven — perform at speeds over 200 mph while pulling g-forces up to 6 times normal gravity.

Warbird aircraft are central to the Oshkosh experience. As a teen, CNN commenter XR1138 remembered watching World War II ace Clarence Bud Anderson perform the most incredible display of piloting skill and energymanagementthat I have ever seen and probably will never see again.“Warbird” aircraft are central to the Oshkosh experience. As a teen, CNN commenter XR1138 remembered watching World War II ace Clarence “Bud” Anderson perform “the most incredible display of piloting skill and energy management that I have ever seen and probably will never see again.”

Welcoming visitors to the San Diego Air  Space Museum is the U.S. Navy's Sea Dart. It was designed as the first combat-type plane equipped with retractable hydro-skis, the first delta-winged seaplane, and the first supersonic seaplane in the world, according to the museum.Welcoming visitors to the San Diego Air Space Museum is the U.S. Navy’s Sea Dart. It was designed as “the first combat-type plane equipped with retractable hydro-skis, the first delta-winged seaplane, and the first supersonic seaplane in the world,” according to the museum.

Nazi Germany's Horten 229 V3 was the first pure flying wing powered by a turbojet, according to the museum. It also was the first aircraft designed to incorporate what became known as stealth technology. The museum's exhibit is a full-scale replica built by Northrop Grumman from original plans.Nazi Germany’s Horten 229 V3 was “the first pure flying wing powered by a turbojet,” according to the museum. It also was the “first aircraft designed to incorporate what became known as stealth technology.” The museum’s exhibit is a full-scale replica built by Northrop Grumman from original plans.

The media nicknamed it the Spruce Goose because it's made of wood. But this seaplane with the wingspan of a football field was orginially called the HK-1 and then later the H-4 Hercules when it was developed in the 1940s. It's now living at the Evergreen Aviation  Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.The media nicknamed it the Spruce Goose because it’s made of wood. But this seaplane with the wingspan of a football field was orginially called the HK-1 and then later the H-4 Hercules when it was developed in the 1940s. It’s now living at the Evergreen Aviation Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

This photo shows billionaire businessman and aviator Howard Hughes in the aircraft's cockpit on the actual day of its only flight -- November 2, 1947. Hughes was at the controls off Long Beach, California, when the giant plane flew for one minute a distance of a little more than one mile at an altitude of 70 feet, according to the museum.This photo shows billionaire businessman and aviator Howard Hughes in the aircraft’s cockpit on the actual day of its only flight — November 2, 1947. Hughes was at the controls off Long Beach, California, when the giant plane flew for one minute a distance of a little more than one mile at an altitude of 70 feet, according to the museum.

The aircraft, also known as the Flying Boat was designed to transport hundreds of World War II-era troops across the Atlantic more safely than ships, which were vulnerable to enemy submarines, according to the museum.The aircraft, also known as the “Flying Boat” was designed to transport hundreds of World War II-era troops across the Atlantic more safely than ships, which were vulnerable to enemy submarines, according to the museum.

This 1945 photo shows the incomplete hull of the Spruce Goose. The plane is six times larger than any aircraft of its period, according to the museum.This 1945 photo shows the incomplete hull of the Spruce Goose. The plane is six times larger than any aircraft of its period, according to the museum.

Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana, is an off-the-beaten-path gem, wrote CNN commenter lastdomino. If you're ever close ... [it's] definitely worth the trip. A crown jewel at Grissom is this F-100C Super Sabre, formerly flown by Apollo 11 moonwalker Neil Armstrong. Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana, is an “off-the-beaten-path gem,” wrote CNN commenter lastdomino. “If you’re ever close … [it's] definitely worth the trip.” A crown jewel at Grissom is this F-100C Super Sabre, formerly flown by Apollo 11 moonwalker Neil Armstrong.

This rare, two-seat TF-102A Delta Dagger was flown by a young George W. Bush, according to Grissom Air Museum. This model could reach a top speed of 646 mph -- just under the speed of sound.This rare, two-seat TF-102A Delta Dagger was flown by a young George W. Bush, according to Grissom Air Museum. This model could reach a top speed of 646 mph — just under the speed of sound.

This bomber was one of several B-25 Mitchells flown in the 1970 film Catch-22. Named Passionate Paulette, it's one of 139 surviving B-25s, 48 of which are still flying, according to Grissom Air Museum.This bomber was one of several B-25 Mitchells flown in the 1970 film “Catch-22.” Named “Passionate Paulette,” it’s one of 139 surviving B-25s, 48 of which are still flying, according to Grissom Air Museum.

 CNN commenter Mark Swanson said this museum is Mecca for all true believers in the First Church of Aircraft Worship. This Boeing VC-137C is a plane that served as Air Force One and played a major role in American history. CNN commenter Mark Swanson said this museum is “Mecca for all true believers in the First Church of Aircraft Worship.” This Boeing VC-137C is a plane that served as Air Force One and played a major role in American history.

The jet, code named SAM 26000, was where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President Kennedy. The plane also ferried President Nixon on his historic 1972 mission to China. The jet, code named SAM 26000, was where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President Kennedy. The plane also ferried President Nixon on his historic 1972 mission to China.

The museum also has this bad boy: a McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, which was developed in the 1940s to be released from a bomber to defend against attacks by enemy fighter planes. The project was killed in 1949, according to the museum.The museum also has this bad boy: a McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, which was developed in the 1940s to be released from a bomber to defend against attacks by enemy fighter planes. The project was killed in 1949, according to the museum.


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Gallery: Top aircraft destinationsGallery: Top aircraft destinations

So what’s the problem? Why is this $36 million plane — paid for by taxpayers — shut away in a darkened hangar?

It’s ironic if you think about it. The plane perhaps most associated with politics has fallen victim to political gamesmanship.

About 500 miles away, inside the bubble of Washington’s Beltway, political fighting triggered mandatory budget cuts called sequestration. The Air Force ordered the museum to economize — including temporarily closing the Presidential Gallery where SAM 26000 is parked. Buses that are required to transport visitors to SAM 26000′s special hangar are just too pricey. So they shut it down.

“People are very disappointed,” says Sarah Swan of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Staffers are trying to determine whether to hold events marking the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death this November. It’s bad timing, she admits. Last year, SAM 26000 ranked among the museum’s most popular exhibits, drawing almost 90,000 visitors among the facility’s total attendance of 1.2 million. Since the hangar doors closed in May, the jet’s visitors of course have plunged to zero.

History has happened on this plane. And by stepping aboard SAM 26000, visitors say they can imagine it all.

They can imagine a newly sworn-in president Johnson grabbing ahold of JFK’s casket as he helped White House staff pull it through the plane’s rear exit into the cabin.

They can paint a mental picture of federal Judge Sarah Hughes swearing in Johnson while a photographer snapped that famous image of LBJ and a grief-stricken and stunned Jacqueline Kennedy.

“You can stand on that spot where President Kennedy’s casket came in — you think about the horror of what was going on and the shock of what happened,” said Underwood. “You can look forward toward the nose of the aircraft and know that’s where the transfer of power took place, and you can see where Mrs. Kennedy sat near the body of her slain husband. Sometimes I still get goosebumps.”

You can imagine the pilot — Col. James B. Swindal — as he took off from Dallas to D.C., jetting to an unusually high 41,000 feet to guard against a possible second attack. “He didn’t have any idea whether this was part of a large conspiracy,” his son, James L. Swindal told, The New York Times. “He wasn’t going to take any chances with a new president in the plane.”

Imagine the dramatic scene a few hours later outside Washington at Andrews Air Force Base as JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, “leaped up” a portable stairway to board the plane. Rushing to console the first lady, RFK “pushed his way down” the aisle past President Johnson “without saying a word,” wrote historian Steven Gillon. An angry Johnson “fumed that Kennedy would board the plane without even acknowledging him,” Gillon claims in “The Kennedy Assassination, 24 Hours After.”

A few days after that, imagine the plane soaring high over Kennedy’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, as described by historian William Manchester. Saluting the fallen commander in chief, SAM 26000 tipped its wings before Swindal “threw all his fuel controls on full and leaned into the wind” at a blistering 600 mph.

Awkward

Many associate the jet with JFK, but the plane was tied just as closely to his two successors, LBJ and Nixon.

In 1972, SAM 26000 touched down in the world’s most populous nation, as Nixon forged the first U.S. ties with the People’s Republic of China. Aboard the plane, a “burly” Nixon aide “blocked the aisle” to keep staffers from following the president down the stairway to the tarmac, national security adviser Henry Kissinger recalled. Nixon didn’t want anyone getting in the way of his historic photo op with China’s premier.

President Barack Obama rides SAM 28000 and 29000 -- modified military versions of Boeing 747 airliners -- which are much larger than SAM 26000.

Nine years later, imagine Nixon sitting with ex-presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in the “relatively cramped tail section” of SAM 26000, as TIME magazine described it. They felt “somewhat ill at ease,” as they flew to the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, wrote Carter years later. And they certainly had their reasons — especially Carter and Ford. Just five years earlier Carter, a Democrat, had delivered a stinging election defeat to the GOP’s Ford.

Tension also ran high among staffers aboard the flight. They endured long waits to use the lavatories and got upset about who received bigger cuts of steak at dinner, according to author Ronald Kessler.

Then Nixon “surprisingly eased the tension” with “courtesy, eloquence and charm,” Carter revealed in a memoir. Aboard SAM 26000, the two former enemies developed a camaraderie and then a friendship, wrote historian Douglas Brinkley.

‘Buck naked’

Air Force One was designed for presidential multitasking, generations before the word was even invented.

Maybe the funniest example of this concept occurred aboard SAM 26000 at a campaign stop in 1964. Johnson invited reporter Frank Cormier and two colleagues to an impromptu press conference in the plane’s bedroom, according to Cormier’s book, “The Way He Was.”

The president — who wanted to change clothes after giving a speech in the hot sun — astonished the reporters when he “removed his shirt and trousers,” while answering their questions about the economy. Johnson then “shucked off his underwear” and kept talking while “standing buck naked and waving his towel for emphasis.”

Another time on the jet, Cormier wrote, Johnson was sitting and talking with his legs crossed when an “airman who served as LBJ’s valet” kneeled before the president and “quickly removed one of Johnson’s shoes and socks, bathed the naked foot then put on a fresh sock and replaced the shoe.” Neither the valet nor the president ever acknowledged each other, and Johnson didn’t miss a beat of his conversation.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson being sworn in as president after JFK's assassination may be the most famous picture ever taken aboard a presidential aircraft.

The plane carried LBJ’s body after his death in 1973, just as it had Kennedy. Twenty-one years later, it ferried Nixon’s casket back home to California.

SAM 26000′s legacy also includes a footnote labeled, “Monica Lewinsky.” The former White House intern who later became a central figure in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton flew aboard the plane as a Pentagon staffer on a tour of European nations in the ’90s.

By that time, the aging SAM 26000 had been demoted as a second-tier presidential aircraft and was reserved as a backup. The Air Force introduced a military version of the Boeing 747 — much bigger than SAM 26000 — into the SAM fleet beginning in 1990. SAM 26000 carried about 48 passengers and crew, while the new bigger jets held more than twice as many: 102 passengers and crew with about 4,000 square feet of floor space to roam around in.

“It was such a quantum leap forward in Air Force One’s capabilities,” said Underwood. “With the added ability of inflight refueling, it freed up Air Force One to do whatever it needed to do.”

By 1998, SAM 26000 was done. Then-Vice President Al Gore honored the plane’s legacy by hosting its final official flight — a hop from Washington to Columbia, South Carolina, before it traveled to the Air Force museum in Ohio a few months later. “If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft,” Gore said at the time.

As this year’s 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination approaches, SAM 26000′s caretakers at the Air Force museum have no idea how to plan for it. As Underwood put it, “We’re just held in limbo right now.”

It’s a mystery whether Congress will end sequestration in October — or if even deeper cuts will follow. The Air Force is already preparing for a worst-case scenario.

At the Pentagon, Air Force brass have no plans to change the current funding situation at the museum — at least through October, said Air Force Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley. After that, she said, “we don’t know what the new normal will look like in our current fiscal-constrained environment.”

In the meantime, the Air Force “will continue to take action to reduce spending” as a way to support “overseas contingency operations and preserve readiness,” Tingley said.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Rep. Michael Turner, a Republican member of the powerful House Armed Services Committee who represents the museum’s district. “These are incredibly historic aircraft,” Turner said, which are inaccessible to visitors because of sequestration that he described as “shameful and outrageous.”

Turner called on the Senate and President Barack Obama to come to the table with a solution and break the deadlock.

Despite the closure of the museum’s Presidential and Research and Development Galleries, the facility remains open seven days a week, and admission is free.

But until funds appear — or lawmakers in Washington can come together — the world’s most historic plane will stay behind closed doors.

Air Force returns sequestration-grounded Thunderbirds to the sky


Article source: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/19/travel/air-force-one-sam-26000-sequestration/index.html?eref=edition

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/NewsRipplesWeb/~3/QpSbOik5okg/most-important-jet-you-cant-see

The most important jet you can’t see


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This a href='http://www.boeing.com/boeing/history/boeing/airforceone.page' target='_blank'Boeing VC-137C/a is the first custom-built jet to serve as Air Force One. Codenamed Special Air Mission -- or SAM -- 26000, the airliner witnessed more presidential history than any other -- ranging from the tragic to the hilarious. It sits in the Presidential Gallery at thea href='http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=570' target='_blank' National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio/a. The gallery was closed to visitors in May 2013 because of forced budget cuts. Click through the photos for more on this one-of-a-kind aircraft.This Boeing VC-137C is the first custom-built jet to serve as Air Force One. Codenamed Special Air Mission — or SAM — 26000, the airliner witnessed more presidential history than any other — ranging from the tragic to the hilarious. It sits in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The gallery was closed to visitors in May 2013 because of forced budget cuts. Click through the photos for more on this one-of-a-kind aircraft.

SAM 26000 may be the most important historical airplane in the world, said Air Force historian Jeff Underwood. It supported a mission to open U.S relations with China and flew to secret Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War. But it's probably most closely tied to President John F. Kennedy, who first used it in 1962.SAM 26000 may be “the most important historical airplane in the world,” said Air Force historian Jeff Underwood. It supported a mission to open U.S relations with China and flew to secret Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War. But it’s probably most closely tied to President John F. Kennedy, who first used it in 1962.

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the president exit SAM 26000 in Texas in November 1963, just hours before the president would be assassinated. Five months earlier, the plane had flown Kennedy to Berlin, where he delivered his historic I am a Berliner address.First lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the president exit SAM 26000 in Texas in November 1963, just hours before the president would be assassinated. Five months earlier, the plane had flown Kennedy to Berlin, where he delivered his historic “I am a Berliner” address.

This is likely the most famous photograph ever taken aboard any presidential aircraft. Hours after the attack -- and shortly before SAM 26000 left Dallas -- Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president with the first lady at his side. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath, the only woman ever to do so.This is likely the most famous photograph ever taken aboard any presidential aircraft. Hours after the attack — and shortly before SAM 26000 left Dallas — Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president with the first lady at his side. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath, the only woman ever to do so.

At Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, the president's casket was offloaded onto an ambulance from SAM 26000, where it had been placed in the rear of the cabin. The crew didn't want President Kennedy's casket to travel in the cargo hold, said then-flight engineer Joe Chappell on a href='http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/102647-1http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZtWB-4s-R4' target='_blank'C-SPAN in 1998/a. So they made room for it in the passenger compartment. To create the extra space, Chappell said he helped remove two rows of seats and a separating wall.At Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, the president’s casket was offloaded onto an ambulance from SAM 26000, where it had been placed in the rear of the cabin. “The crew didn’t want President Kennedy’s casket to travel in the cargo hold,” said then-flight engineer Joe Chappell on C-SPAN in 1998. “So they made room for it in the passenger compartment.” To create the extra space, Chappell said he helped remove two rows of seats and a separating wall.

The president's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was anxious to board the plane after it arrived. Shown here with the first lady, RFK leaped up the airline stairs in a rush to console Mrs. Kennedy, according to historian Steven Gillon. He pushed his way down the aisle past President Johnson without saying a word. Johnson fumed that Kennedy would board the plane without even acknowledging him, Gillon wrote in The Kennedy Assassination, 24 Hours After.The president’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was anxious to board the plane after it arrived. Shown here with the first lady, RFK “leaped up” the airline stairs in a rush to console Mrs. Kennedy, according to historian Steven Gillon. He “pushed his way down” the aisle past President Johnson “without saying a word.” Johnson “fumed that Kennedy would board the plane without even acknowledging him,” Gillon wrote in “The Kennedy Assassination, 24 Hours After.”

President Johnson is seen here meeting with Sens. Mike Mansfield, left, and J. William Fulbright, far right. All presidents aboard Air Force One used it to multitask. For example, at a 1964 campaign stop, LBJ gave an impromptu press conference on the plane while he changed clothes.President Johnson is seen here meeting with Sens. Mike Mansfield, left, and J. William Fulbright, far right. All presidents aboard Air Force One used it to multitask. For example, at a 1964 campaign stop, LBJ gave an impromptu press conference on the plane while he changed clothes.

In 1972, SAM 26000 ferried President Richard Nixon to Beijing on a groundbreaking mission to open U.S. relations with the People's Republic of China. The aircraft was welcomed by a 350-man Chinese military honor guard.In 1972, SAM 26000 ferried President Richard Nixon to Beijing on a groundbreaking mission to open U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China. The aircraft was welcomed by a 350-man Chinese military honor guard.

In 1981, Nixon and fellow ex-presidents Gerald Ford, left, and Jimmy Carter, right, flew SAM 26000 to the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. (Also attending: former first lady Rosalynn Carter.) They felt somewhat ill at ease together, wrote Carter years later. Then Nixon surprisingly eased the tension, Carter recalled. The men bonded. The trip resulted in a long friendship between bitter election rivals Carter and Ford.In 1981, Nixon and fellow ex-presidents Gerald Ford, left, and Jimmy Carter, right, flew SAM 26000 to the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. (Also attending: former first lady Rosalynn Carter.) They felt “somewhat ill at ease” together, wrote Carter years later. Then Nixon “surprisingly eased the tension,” Carter recalled. The men bonded. The trip resulted in a long friendship between bitter election rivals Carter and Ford.

The Presidential Gallery where SAM 26000 is on display is closed to visitors due to forced sequestration budget cuts by Congress. For many aviation enthusiasts, aircraft geeks and history buffs, that's a shame. They see the jet as a national treasure. As Vice President Al Gore put it when he last boarded it in 1998: If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft.The Presidential Gallery where SAM 26000 is on display is closed to visitors due to forced “sequestration” budget cuts by Congress. For many aviation enthusiasts, aircraft geeks and history buffs, that’s a shame. They see the jet as a national treasure. As Vice President Al Gore put it when he last boarded it in 1998: “If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft.”


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(CNN) — It may be the most historic plane in the world: Special Air Mission 26000, SAM for short. Not familiar? Maybe you know its nickname. Back in its heyday the sleek, blue and white airliner was called Air Force One.

This ain’t just ANY Air Force One. SAM 26000 saw more historic events than any other — ranging from the tragic to the hilarious. A national treasure, the airliner now sits in the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio.

But you can’t see it. It’s off limits to visitors. For many history buffs and aviation geeks, that’s a cryin’ shame.

If things were different, visitors could walk down the same cabin aisles where Jacqueline Kennedy mournfully sat beside her husband’s casket en route from Dallas to Washington. You could stand in the exact spot where the only woman to preside over a presidential oath swore in Lyndon Johnson as commander-in-chief. Examine with your own eyes the on-board suites that carried President Richard Nixon to Beijing, where he cracked open U.S. relations with China.

For more than 30 years, the 100-ton plane transported some of the most powerful figures on the planet — and once it even carried a history-making ex-White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. Yep, SAM 26000 has seen a few eyebrow-raising situations over the years.

Oh my, if only this plane could talk.

“A person could justify that it’s the most important historical airplane in the world,” Air Force historian Jeff Underwood said on the phone, just a stone’s throw away from the jet. “It’s a place in history that moves. Every time I get on board, that’s what I think about.”


Air Force One heading to auction

Drawing more than a half-million visitors each year, the world-famous Oshkosh, Wisconsin, airshow sounds like Woodstock for aviation geeks. Except more organized and louder.Drawing more than a half-million visitors each year, the world-famous Oshkosh, Wisconsin, airshow sounds like Woodstock for aviation geeks. Except more organized and louder.

The Team RV aerobatic squadron is slated to perform at this July's Oshkosh airshow. Team RV's homebuilt aircraft -- designed by Richard VanGrunsven -- perform at speeds over 200 mph while pulling g-forces up to 6 times normal gravity.The Team RV aerobatic squadron is slated to perform at this July’s Oshkosh airshow. Team RV’s homebuilt aircraft — designed by Richard VanGrunsven — perform at speeds over 200 mph while pulling g-forces up to 6 times normal gravity.

Warbird aircraft are central to the Oshkosh experience. As a teen, CNN commenter XR1138 remembered watching World War II ace Clarence Bud Anderson perform the most incredible display of piloting skill and energymanagementthat I have ever seen and probably will never see again.“Warbird” aircraft are central to the Oshkosh experience. As a teen, CNN commenter XR1138 remembered watching World War II ace Clarence “Bud” Anderson perform “the most incredible display of piloting skill and energy management that I have ever seen and probably will never see again.”

Welcoming visitors to the San Diego Air  Space Museum is the U.S. Navy's Sea Dart. It was designed as the first combat-type plane equipped with retractable hydro-skis, the first delta-winged seaplane, and the first supersonic seaplane in the world, according to the museum.Welcoming visitors to the San Diego Air Space Museum is the U.S. Navy’s Sea Dart. It was designed as “the first combat-type plane equipped with retractable hydro-skis, the first delta-winged seaplane, and the first supersonic seaplane in the world,” according to the museum.

Nazi Germany's Horten 229 V3 was the first pure flying wing powered by a turbojet, according to the museum. It also was the first aircraft designed to incorporate what became known as stealth technology. The museum's exhibit is a full-scale replica built by Northrop Grumman from original plans.Nazi Germany’s Horten 229 V3 was “the first pure flying wing powered by a turbojet,” according to the museum. It also was the “first aircraft designed to incorporate what became known as stealth technology.” The museum’s exhibit is a full-scale replica built by Northrop Grumman from original plans.

The media nicknamed it the Spruce Goose because it's made of wood. But this seaplane with the wingspan of a football field was orginially called the HK-1 and then later the H-4 Hercules when it was developed in the 1940s. It's now living at the Evergreen Aviation  Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.The media nicknamed it the Spruce Goose because it’s made of wood. But this seaplane with the wingspan of a football field was orginially called the HK-1 and then later the H-4 Hercules when it was developed in the 1940s. It’s now living at the Evergreen Aviation Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

This photo shows billionaire businessman and aviator Howard Hughes in the aircraft's cockpit on the actual day of its only flight -- November 2, 1947. Hughes was at the controls off Long Beach, California, when the giant plane flew for one minute a distance of a little more than one mile at an altitude of 70 feet, according to the museum.This photo shows billionaire businessman and aviator Howard Hughes in the aircraft’s cockpit on the actual day of its only flight — November 2, 1947. Hughes was at the controls off Long Beach, California, when the giant plane flew for one minute a distance of a little more than one mile at an altitude of 70 feet, according to the museum.

The aircraft, also known as the Flying Boat was designed to transport hundreds of World War II-era troops across the Atlantic more safely than ships, which were vulnerable to enemy submarines, according to the museum.The aircraft, also known as the “Flying Boat” was designed to transport hundreds of World War II-era troops across the Atlantic more safely than ships, which were vulnerable to enemy submarines, according to the museum.

This 1945 photo shows the incomplete hull of the Spruce Goose. The plane is six times larger than any aircraft of its period, according to the museum.This 1945 photo shows the incomplete hull of the Spruce Goose. The plane is six times larger than any aircraft of its period, according to the museum.

Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana, is an off-the-beaten-path gem, wrote CNN commenter lastdomino. If you're ever close ... [it's] definitely worth the trip. A crown jewel at Grissom is this F-100C Super Sabre, formerly flown by Apollo 11 moonwalker Neil Armstrong. Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana, is an “off-the-beaten-path gem,” wrote CNN commenter lastdomino. “If you’re ever close … [it's] definitely worth the trip.” A crown jewel at Grissom is this F-100C Super Sabre, formerly flown by Apollo 11 moonwalker Neil Armstrong.

This rare, two-seat TF-102A Delta Dagger was flown by a young George W. Bush, according to Grissom Air Museum. This model could reach a top speed of 646 mph -- just under the speed of sound.This rare, two-seat TF-102A Delta Dagger was flown by a young George W. Bush, according to Grissom Air Museum. This model could reach a top speed of 646 mph — just under the speed of sound.

This bomber was one of several B-25 Mitchells flown in the 1970 film Catch-22. Named Passionate Paulette, it's one of 139 surviving B-25s, 48 of which are still flying, according to Grissom Air Museum.This bomber was one of several B-25 Mitchells flown in the 1970 film “Catch-22.” Named “Passionate Paulette,” it’s one of 139 surviving B-25s, 48 of which are still flying, according to Grissom Air Museum.

 CNN commenter Mark Swanson said this museum is Mecca for all true believers in the First Church of Aircraft Worship. This Boeing VC-137C is a plane that served as Air Force One and played a major role in American history. CNN commenter Mark Swanson said this museum is “Mecca for all true believers in the First Church of Aircraft Worship.” This Boeing VC-137C is a plane that served as Air Force One and played a major role in American history.

The jet, code named SAM 26000, was where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President Kennedy. The plane also ferried President Nixon on his historic 1972 mission to China. The jet, code named SAM 26000, was where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President Kennedy. The plane also ferried President Nixon on his historic 1972 mission to China.

The museum also has this bad boy: a McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, which was developed in the 1940s to be released from a bomber to defend against attacks by enemy fighter planes. The project was killed in 1949, according to the museum.The museum also has this bad boy: a McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, which was developed in the 1940s to be released from a bomber to defend against attacks by enemy fighter planes. The project was killed in 1949, according to the museum.


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Gallery: Top aircraft destinationsGallery: Top aircraft destinations

So what’s the problem? Why is this $8 million plane — paid for by taxpayers — shut away in a darkened hangar?

It’s ironic if you think about it. The plane perhaps most associated with politics has fallen victim to political gamesmanship.

About 500 miles away, inside the bubble of Washington’s Beltway, political fighting triggered mandatory budget cuts called sequestration. The Air Force ordered the museum to economize — including temporarily closing the Presidential Gallery where SAM 26000 is parked. Buses that are required to transport visitors to SAM 26000′s special hangar are just too pricey. So they shut it down.

“People are very disappointed,” says Sarah Swan of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Staffers are trying to determine whether to hold events marking the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death this November. It’s bad timing, she admits. Last year, SAM 26000 ranked among the museum’s most popular exhibits, drawing almost 90,000 visitors among the facility’s total attendance of 1.2 million. Since the hangar doors closed in May, the jet’s visitors of course have plunged to zero.

History has happened on this plane. And by stepping aboard SAM 26000, visitors say they can imagine it all.

They can imagine a newly sworn-in president Johnson grabbing ahold of JFK’s casket as he helped White House staff pull it through the plane’s rear exit into the cabin.

They can paint a mental picture of federal Judge Sarah Hughes swearing in Johnson while a photographer snapped that famous image of LBJ and a grief-stricken and stunned Jacqueline Kennedy.

“You can stand on that spot where President Kennedy’s casket came in — you think about the horror of what was going on and the shock of what happened,” said Underwood. “You can look forward toward the nose of the aircraft and know that’s where the transfer of power took place, and you can see where Mrs. Kennedy sat near the body of her slain husband. Sometimes I still get goosebumps.”

You can imagine the pilot — Col. James B. Swindal — as he took off from Dallas to D.C., jetting to an unusually high 41,000 feet to guard against a possible second attack. “He didn’t have any idea whether this was part of a large conspiracy,” his son, James L. Swindal told, The New York Times. “He wasn’t going to take any chances with a new president in the plane.”

Imagine the dramatic scene a few hours later outside Washington at Andrews Air Force Base as JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, “leaped up” a portable stairway to board the plane. Rushing to console the first lady, RFK “pushed his way down” the aisle past President Johnson “without saying a word,” wrote historian Steven Gillon. An angry Johnson “fumed that Kennedy would board the plane without even acknowledging him,” Gillon claims in “The Kennedy Assassination, 24 Hours After.”

A few days after that, imagine the plane soaring high over Kennedy’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, as described by historian William Manchester. Saluting the fallen commander in chief, SAM 26000 tipped its wings before Swindal “threw all his fuel controls on full and leaned into the wind” at a blistering 600 mph.

Awkward

Many associate the jet with JFK, but the plane was tied just as closely to his two successors, LBJ and Nixon.

In 1972, SAM 26000 touched down in the world’s most populous nation, as Nixon forged the first U.S. ties with the People’s Republic of China. Aboard the plane, a “burly” Nixon aide “blocked the aisle” to keep staffers from following the president down the stairway to the tarmac, national security adviser Henry Kissinger recalled. Nixon didn’t want anyone getting in the way of his historic photo op with China’s premier.

President Barack Obama rides SAM 28000 and 29000 -- modified military versions of Boeing 747 airliners -- which are much larger than SAM 26000.

Nine years later, imagine Nixon sitting with ex-presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in the “relatively cramped tail section” of SAM 26000, as TIME magazine described it. They felt “somewhat ill at ease,” as they flew to the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, wrote Carter years later. And they certainly had their reasons — especially Carter and Ford. Just five years earlier Carter, a Democrat, had delivered a stinging election defeat to the GOP’s Ford.

Tension also ran high among staffers aboard the flight. They endured long waits to use the lavatories and got upset about who received bigger cuts of steak at dinner, according to author Ronald Kessler.

Then Nixon “surprisingly eased the tension” with “courtesy, eloquence and charm,” Carter revealed in a memoir. Aboard SAM 26000, the two former enemies developed a camaraderie and then a friendship, wrote historian Douglas Brinkley.

‘Buck naked’

Air Force One was designed for presidential multitasking, generations before the word was even invented.

Maybe the funniest example of this concept occurred aboard SAM 26000 at a campaign stop in 1964. Johnson invited reporter Frank Cormier and two colleagues to an impromptu press conference in the plane’s bedroom, according to Cormier’s book, “The Way He Was.”

The president — who wanted to change clothes after giving a speech in the hot sun — astonished the reporters when he “removed his shirt and trousers,” while answering their questions about the economy. Johnson then “shucked off his underwear” and kept talking while “standing buck naked and waving his towel for emphasis.”

Another time on the jet, Cormier wrote, Johnson was sitting and talking with his legs crossed when an “airman who served as LBJ’s valet” kneeled before the president and “quickly removed one of Johnson’s shoes and socks, bathed the naked foot then put on a fresh sock and replaced the shoe.” Neither the valet nor the president ever acknowledged each other, and Johnson didn’t miss a beat of his conversation.

Vice President Lyndon Johnson being sworn in as president after JFK's assassination may be the most famous picture ever taken aboard a presidential aircraft.

The plane carried LBJ’s body after his death in 1973, just as it had Kennedy. Twenty-one years later, it ferried Nixon’s casket back home to California.

SAM 26000′s legacy also includes a footnote labeled, “Monica Lewinsky.” The former White House intern who later became a central figure in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton flew aboard the plane as a Pentagon staffer on a tour of European nations in the ’90s.

By that time, the aging SAM 26000 had been demoted as a second-tier presidential aircraft and was reserved as a backup. The Air Force introduced a military version of the Boeing 747 — much bigger than SAM 26000 — into the SAM fleet beginning in 1990. SAM 26000 carried about 48 passengers and crew, while the new bigger jets held more than twice as many: 102 passengers and crew with about 4,000 square feet of floor space to roam around in.

“It was such a quantum leap forward in Air Force One’s capabilities,” said Underwood. “With the added ability of inflight refueling, it freed up Air Force One to do whatever it needed to do.”

By 1998, SAM 26000 was done. Then-Vice President Al Gore honored the plane’s legacy by hosting its final official flight — a hop from Washington to Columbia, South Carolina, before it traveled to the Air Force museum in Ohio a few months later. “If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft,” Gore said at the time.

As this year’s 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination approaches, SAM 26000′s caretakers at the Air Force museum have no idea how to plan for it. As Underwood put it, “We’re just held in limbo right now.”

It’s a mystery whether Congress will end sequestration in October — or if even deeper cuts will follow. The Air Force is already preparing for a worst-case scenario.

At the Pentagon, Air Force brass have no plans to change the current funding situation at the museum — at least through October, said Air Force Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley. After that, she said, “we don’t know what the new normal will look like in our current fiscal-constrained environment.”

In the meantime, the Air Force “will continue to take action to reduce spending” as a way to support “overseas contingency operations and preserve readiness,” Tingley said.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Rep. Michael Turner, a Republican member of the powerful House Armed Services Committee who represents the museum’s district. “These are incredibly historic aircraft,” Turner said, which are inaccessible to visitors because of sequestration that he described as “shameful and outrageous.”

Turner called on the Senate and President Barack Obama to come to the table with a solution and break the deadlock.

Despite the closure of the museum’s Presidential and Research and Development Galleries, the facility remains open seven days a week, and admission is free.

But until funds appear — or lawmakers in Washington can come together — the world’s most historic plane will stay behind closed doors.

Air Force returns sequestration-grounded Thunderbirds to the sky


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Watch daredevil’s high-wire walk

Cameron, Arizona (CNN) — His high-wire walk didn’t start well.

Perched on a 2-inch-thick metal cable, 1,500 feet in the air, daredevil Nik Wallenda spat on his hands and wiped the soles of his moccasins.

“These shoes feel slippery. There’s dust on this cable,” the lifelong tightrope walker said Sunday as he was just beginning his quarter-mile trek across the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon without the aid of a safety tether.

But an agonizing and an anxiety-filled 22 minutes and 54 seconds later, Wallenda had crossed to the other side, running the final steps to become the first person to traverse the gorge near Grand Canyon Park in Arizona.

Nik Wallenda walks on a tightrope 1,500 feet above a river near the Grand Canyon in Arizona on Sunday, June 23. The quarter-mile trek over the Little Colorado River Gorge took 22 minutes and 54 seconds.Nik Wallenda walks on a tightrope 1,500 feet above a river near the Grand Canyon in Arizona on Sunday, June 23. The quarter-mile trek over the Little Colorado River Gorge took 22 minutes and 54 seconds.

Wallenda with his sister Lijana, left, and his wife, Erendira, at Circus Sarasota in February in Florida. Nik and Lijana are members of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s. See the Wallenda family through the years.Wallenda with his sister Lijana, left, and his wife, Erendira, at Circus Sarasota in February in Florida. Nik and Lijana are members of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s. See the Wallenda family through the years.

Wallenda tighropes over the Niagara Falls in June 2012, becoming the first person to cross directly over the falls from the United States into Canada. Wallenda tighropes over the Niagara Falls in June 2012, becoming the first person to cross directly over the falls from the United States into Canada.

The seventh-generation aerialist crosses Niagara Falls in June 2012. The tense 1,800-foot journey took 25 minutes, a CNN affiliate reported.The seventh-generation aerialist crosses Niagara Falls in June 2012. The tense 1,800-foot journey took 25 minutes, a CNN affiliate reported.

Crowds watch the daredevil during a 1,500-foot tightrope walk 100 feet above the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in August 2012. Crowds watch the daredevil during a 1,500-foot tightrope walk 100 feet above the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in August 2012.

Wallenda wows beachgoers in Atlantic City in August 2012.Wallenda wows beachgoers in Atlantic City in August 2012.

Wallenda performs during prerace ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, in October 2012.Wallenda performs during prerace ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, in October 2012.

Wallenda walks one of the Sky Ride cables at the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, in July 2009.Wallenda walks one of the Sky Ride cables at the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, in July 2009.

Wallenda performs a Wheel of Death stunt at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City in April 2011. Wallenda performs a “Wheel of Death” stunt at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City in April 2011.

Wallenda crosses the Fiesta Plaza in The Quarter at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City in April 2011. Wallenda crosses the Fiesta Plaza in The Quarter at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City in April 2011.

Wallenda wipes sweat from his forehead as he maneuvers across a 300-foot-long wire suspended 100 feet in the air between two towers of Puerto Rico's Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel in June 2011.Wallenda wipes sweat from his forehead as he maneuvers across a 300-foot-long wire suspended 100 feet in the air between two towers of Puerto Rico’s Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel in June 2011.

Wallenda walks a 1,000-foot-long high-wire suspended 200 feet over the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh in July 2009. Wallenda walks a 1,000-foot-long high-wire suspended 200 feet over the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh in July 2009.

Wallenda kisses his wife, Erendira, after the stunt above the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh in July 2009. Wallenda kisses his wife, Erendira, after the stunt above the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh in July 2009.

Wallenda pedals to the end of a wire 12 stories above a Newark, New Jersey, street in October 2008. He earned the Guiness World Record for the longest distance and greatest height traveled by bicycle on a high wire when he traveled 235 feet at a height of 135 feet.Wallenda pedals to the end of a wire 12 stories above a Newark, New Jersey, street in October 2008. He earned the Guiness World Record for the longest distance and greatest height traveled by bicycle on a high wire when he traveled 235 feet at a height of 135 feet.


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Photos: Nik Wallenda on the high wirePhotos: Nik Wallenda on the high wire

Nik Wallenda, 34, nears the completion of his quarter-mile walk near the Grand Canyon on Sunday, June 23, in Arizona. He crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge without the aid of a safety tether. He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s, and also walked across Niagara Falls last year. Nik Wallenda, 34, nears the completion of his quarter-mile walk near the Grand Canyon on Sunday, June 23, in Arizona. He crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge without the aid of a safety tether. He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s, and also walked across Niagara Falls last year.

A promotional poster shows the original performers who came to America in 1928. Clockwise from top left are Karl Wallenda, Helen Wallenda, Joe Geiger and Herman Wallenda.A promotional poster shows the original performers who came to America in 1928. Clockwise from top left are Karl Wallenda, Helen Wallenda, Joe Geiger and Herman Wallenda.

Karl Wallenda performs on a sway pole in Europe before the troupe's move to America in 1928.Karl Wallenda performs on a sway pole in Europe before the troupe’s move to America in 1928.

The Wallendas perform the four-person pyramid, one of their signature acts. In 1948, the team created a seven-person pyramid.The Wallendas perform the four-person pyramid, one of their signature acts. In 1948, the team created a seven-person pyramid.

The Wallendas practice an eight-person pyramid in 1947. This version was never performed in a show.The Wallendas practice an eight-person pyramid in 1947. This version was never performed in a show.

Karl Wallenda walks a tightrope between two corners of the Tower Hotel in London in 1976. Two years later, Wallenda died during a similar walk between two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was 73.Karl Wallenda walks a tightrope between two corners of the Tower Hotel in London in 1976. Two years later, Wallenda died during a similar walk between two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was 73.

A young Nik Wallenda watches his mother, Delilah, get ready for a show.A young Nik Wallenda watches his mother, Delilah, get ready for a show.

Nik Wallenda started performing with his family as a clown at age 2 and walking the wire at age 4.Nik Wallenda started performing with his family as a clown at age 2 and walking the wire at age 4.

Nik Wallenda and his sister, Lijana, practice walking the wire.Nik Wallenda and his sister, Lijana, practice walking the wire.

Nik Wallenda takes to the wire for the first time professionally at age 13.Nik Wallenda takes to the wire for the first time professionally at age 13.

Nik Wallenda attempts the Wheel of Death for the first time.Nik Wallenda attempts the “Wheel of Death” for the first time.

Nik Wallenda rehearses for his attempt to cross Niagara Falls on a wire in the parking lot of the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, New York.Nik Wallenda rehearses for his attempt to cross Niagara Falls on a wire in the parking lot of the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, New York.

Nik Wallenda walks the tightrope over Niagara Falls on June 15, 2012. The tense 1,800-foot journey took 25 minutes, reports say.Nik Wallenda walks the tightrope over Niagara Falls on June 15, 2012. The tense 1,800-foot journey took 25 minutes, reports say.


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Photos: Wallenda family through the yearsPhotos: Wallenda family through the years


New challenge for high-wire walker

The wind was worse than he anticipated, he said at one point. And twice he stopped, knelt and regained his composure.

“I was fatigued until I was three-quarters of the way across, and then it was all adrenaline,” he said.

The feat was watched by a worldwide audience, according to the Discovery Channel, which televised the event in the United States.

At the end, the seventh-generation aerialist threw down his balancing pole, kissed the ground and hugged his wife and three children.

“I can finally breathe again,” Erendira Wallenda said.

When asked how he planned to celebrate his successful walk, Wallenda mentioned eating a rib-eye steak.

He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his grandfather Karl in the 1920s. But the family’s circus roots go back further than that, Nik said.

“My family has done this for seven generations and 200 years, and I’m carrying on a legacy. This is something I’ve done since I was 2 years old, and it truly is my passion.”

Daredevil completes walk across Niagara Falls

Wallenda skywalks over Florida highway


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5-minute guide to Brazilian barbecue


A night at a churrascaria (barbecue restaurant) is a quintessential Brazilian experiences.

(CNN) — Brazil may be the only country in the world where the food comes in bigger portions than on American plates.

That’s particularly true when it comes to the carnivorous side of things.

It’s meat by the wheelbarrow in the barbecue tradition known as churrascaria.

The Brazilian barbecue tradition hails from the southern part of the country, from a gaucho technique of cooking meat in the wide-open country after a long day wrangling cattle.

These days the wranglers come to you at the churrascaria, wielding skewers of meat from all manner of beast and bringing the cuts to your table one by one.

Brazilian barbecue is fueled by a fanatical devotion to high-quality meat and special cuts.

There can be more than 20 different types of meat to choose from in the course of a meal at one of the big churrascarias.

Each skewer-toting server approaches with a particular cut. You inspect and nod, as if it was a bottle of wine, and the waiter then slices off a chunk for you to savor.

When a couple of waiters vie for your taste buds, it looks like a fencing match will break out.

It can get hectic on the churrascaria floor, but it’s worth it, because the slow-grilling Brazilian barbecue style known as rodizio produces some amazingly tasty food.

It starts with a fanatical devotion to high-quality meat and special cuts. The hunks of meat are stabbed onto the skewer and then slow-roasted rotisserie-style over charcoal to lock in the juiciness and flavor.

When the top layer of the meat is browned, it’s sliced off fresh to serve.

The barbecuing is tailored to your individual tastes.

You get not only a wide selection of cuts, but also styles: rare (mal passado), medium rare (a ponto para mal), medium (a ponto), medium well (a ponto para bem) and well done (bem passado).

The star of this meatapalooza is picanha, a top prime sirloin that melts in your mouth. But there’s a big supporting cast — alcatra (top sirloin), baby beef, filet mignon, file com alho (filet mignon with garlic), maminha (rump steak), costela de Ripa (beef short ribs), and pork loin, sausage, chicken and plenty more.

Gallery: A look at Brazil’s best beaches

Top 5 Brazilian barbecue cuts

Picanha

The hands-down favorite for Brazilians is picanha, a rump cut that’s sliced in thin sheets and eaten with rice and beans. For anyone who wants to experience the Brazilian barbecue tradition, picanha is a must.

The meat comes from the top of the rump, the rump cap, which has two sides, one that’s better known as tri-tip and the other smaller side, which is picanha.

Brazilians grill slabs of picanha with the fat on, and slice it off before serving. Good picanha is juicy, tender and triggers taste buds to demand more. It’s a premium cut, juicy, tender and out of the normal steak experience.

Keep the slices modest and you’ll be able to get up from the chair after the feast.

Baby beef

Known by the American handle (pronounced “bebe beefey”), baby beef is the second most popular cut in Brazil, just back of picanha.

It’s seen as a delicacy and is priced accordingly, the most expensive of the churrascaria cuts.

Baby beef, as the name implies, comes from younger cows, though not as young as veal cows.

The savory meat comes from the tenderloin section and is more tender and lean than that of mature cows, which is a big attraction for Brazilian palates. It’s a super-tasty cut, but will set your wallet back a bit.

Alcatra (top sirloin)

Alcatra is a top sirloin cut that’s a traditional dish in Portuguese homes, served as a kind of pot roast, but the Brazilians reinvented it on the grill to create a flavorful style of sirloin.

The right seasoning, grilling and smoky flavoring gives this tender cut a flavor and tenderness you won’t be able to stop thinking about.

It’s a whole new slice of sirloin.

Filet mignon

The king of the steaks is part of a pantheon in the Brazilian barbecue universe. It’s still a favorite, but has competition from picanha and baby beef. The great thing about the churrascaria style, though, is that you’re not restricted to one slab of meat. You can have a couple slices of picanha, filet mignon and more, depending on how many extra belt loops you have. Known for its lack of fat and tenderness, filet mignon can be exquisite in the hands of a great churrascaria chef.

Lombo (pork loin)

It’s not all beef at the churrascaria, where pork, lamb, chicken and even fish are also on the menu. Lombo is a pork cut worth sampling. The loin is sliced into slabs for the skewer dressed in a Parmesan cheese coating. As is done with the beef, only the best cuts of loin make it to the grill, so the pork is as juicy and tender as the high-end beef cuts.

Gallery: Savory barbecue from around the U.S.

Got your own churrascaria tips? Favorite cuts of meat? Share them in the comments section below.

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