First Air Force One Could Undergo Restoration

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

A Virginia company is exploring the potential for buying and restoring the first presidential Air Force One, a 1948 Lockheed C-121A Constellation used by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dynamic Aviation announced this week it's researching the availability of parts, including engines and propellers, that can get the airplane, known as Columbine II, flying again. Owners Harry Oliver and Lockie Christler - son of the late Mel Christler, who had owned it for years - hope to sell it to Dynamic founder Karl Stoltzfus, brother Ken Stoltzfus told AVweb in an e-mail Friday.

They're conducting a due diligence process that ends April 28 to determine the feasibility of restoration. "The question remains as to whether it will be flown on the air show circuit or simply preserved and displayed in a museum at Bridgewater," Ken Stoltzfus wrote. "Pending the results of the due-diligence period, he plans to buy it regardless of which direction it goes, i.e. display or active flying." Dynamic will be in Marana at the end of the month to determine if the airplane can be repaired and flown to Virginia, he said. According to Dynamic, 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. Details about Columbine II's condition and the restoration project are here.