Columbine II To Be Restored Under New Owners


Columbine II, the first presidential 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 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,” Dynamic said on its website.

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 melteddown long ago,” he said. Among the project’s other supporters are Mid America Flight Museum of Mt. Pleasant, Texas. TheAir Force retired Columbine IIin 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.