In 1964 when William Manchester was working on his book about the day of the Kennedy assassination, he discovered that there had been tapes made of the communications involving Air Force One. President Kennedy had ordered tapes of all communications with Presidential aircraft when they were in the air. The tapes were recorded at Andrews AFB and captured all communications involving AF1 including radio transmissions and calls relayed from other aircraft, the White House, the Situation room and even calls patched from regular telephone lines.
Manchester requested a copy for historical purposes and was denied, eventually he was provided what appears to be a seriously edited version. A copy and transcript of that version now reside in the Johnson library. As part of his work with the Assassinations Records Review Board in the 90’s, Douglas Horne attempted to recover the original tape – with no success. What he did determine is that there does indeed to be a serious amount of traffic missing from the Johnson library edited version.
Peripheral to this, during the period of the ARRB, an individual turned in pages from what appear to be a flight log made in an un-designated area of Andrews Air Force Base, possibly the Special Air Mission control which handled the aircraft assigned to the President and occasionally used for other high government officials and military officers. Among the flights noted on that log is the arrival of an aircraft carrying Air Force General LeMay. That entry is somewhat mysterious in that LeMay appears to have told others that he had been fishing in Canada and did not arrive back until the day of the President’s funeral. In contrast, certain medical staff at Bethesda have reported seeing LeMay arrive there during the President’s autopsy.
In November of 2011, a news release announced that a less edited version of the AF1 tape had been recovered from the estate of General Chester Clifton, the former chief military aide to President Kennedy. That version of the tape appears to contain at least an additional half hour of communications – and one of the items on it is a call recording the flight back to Washington on a Special Air Mission aircraft of General LeMay.
So – at first blush the tape seems to confirm the Andrews log pages and the fact that LeMay did immediately fly back to DC, nothing would be suspicious about that per se, unless the General himself stated differently. Work needs to be done researching his remarks and the the new tape – if indeed there is a disconnect then we have a true historical mystery to address. Information on the new tape discovery can be found: