First Air Force One Needs New Home
The first aircraft ever designated Air Force One, and the only primary presidential aircraft ever sold off by the Air Force, needs a new home and its owners have produced a video hoping a museum or collector somewhere will buy the historic aircraft. According to Connie Survivors, a website dedicated to keeping track of the world's dwindling supply of Super Constellations, Columbine II, the Connie used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to get around, is stored at Marana, Ariz. Its owners say the stately old plane needs to find a permanent home before the lease runs out on the current parking spot in 2017. Christler Flying Service bought the airplane in 1970 and it was destined to become an aerial spraying aircraft but instead became a parts plane. Owner Mel Christler, now deceased, found out about its heritage and stopped cannibalizing it. It's now owned by Harry Oliver and Mel's son Lockie. There have been plenty of tire kickers looking but so far no one has come up with the location and the cash needed to get it there.
Tim Crowley, Mel's grandson and the man spearheading the latest drive, thinks Columbine II can get to its new home under its own power and has hired Connie specialists to get her airworthy. Three of four engines have so far been test run and if the money can be found the aircraft could be restored to flying condition over the winter and make its last flight next spring. This aircraft was carrying Eisenhower with an Air Force designation (8610) when it almost tangled with Eastern Airlines Flight 8610 in the same airspace over New York. Since then, all aircraft carrying the president have been identified as Air Force One.