05.08.2015 In the News No Comments

Columbine II will fly again (Super Constellation)

Randy Larsen, Col. USAF, Ret., answering my question on which Constellation is in the Wright Patterson AFB museum. Randy was in charge of the Air Force One fleet and private aircraft at Andrews AFB in the 90’s before he retired.

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The Connie in the USAF museum at Wright Patterson AFB…

Is the only VC-121E ever built. It was President Dwight Eisenhower’s personal airplane between 1954 and 1961. Mrs. Eisenhower christened it Columbine III in honor of the official flower of Colorado, her adopted home state, in ceremonies on Nov. 24, 1954. Columbine III served as the presidential aircraft until President Eisenhower left office in January 1961. It remained in service transporting government officials and visiting foreign dignitaries throughout the world until it was retired to the museum in 1966.

Columbine II will fly again

Columbine II, the first presidential a/c to be called Air Force One, will be under new ownership this summer as a restoration process gets under way in Arizona. Dynamic Aviation of Bridgewater, Virginia completed its due diligence this week and decided to proceed with the purchase of the 1948 Lockheed C-121A Constellation (48-0610) used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Owners Harry Oliver and Lockie Christler – son of the late Mel Christler, who had owned it for years – will sell the Connie to Dynamic founder Karl. D. Stoltzfus Sr. “After extensive inspection and repairs on the aircraft we are ready to accept it, and to proceed with closing in June. Many challenges remain before we can fly it to Virginia but we are now confident that it is feasible.”

Stoltzfus credits the present owners for hanging on to Columbine II through the years and investing in its preservation. “Without their dedication and their efforts to preserve it, it would most likely have been melted down long ago,” he said. Among the project’s other supporters are Mid America Flight Museum of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. The Air Force retired Columbine II in 1968 and sold it as surplus in 1970. It then sat in salvage yards in Arizona until 1990 when it was made airworthy again, then after a flying a few hours it was parked in Marana in 2003 and hasn’t moved since. Dynamic wants to make the aircraft airworthy and fly it home as a certificated aircraft rather than on a ferry permit; no completion date has been set.

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