Columbine II 001

Columbine II – USAF Number 8610 – Later named “Air Force One” in flight.  Click on this above photo to watch short five  minute video of its strange historical saga . . . and of it’s hopeful future.Ike & Mamie EisenhowerLeavingOnColumbineII for Denver&Col.WilliamG.DrapterAC Cmdr007In the photograph above on left are President “Ike” Eisenhower & his wife, Mamie, boarding Air Force One (Columbine II) for a trip to Denver, Colorado, in 1955.   Seen on the right in the composite photo is the USAF Crew of Air Force One, headed up in front by Colonel William G. Draper, President Eisenhower’s pilot from 1950 until he was elected President, and then until 1961 when the President’s second term of office ended.  Click on the above composite photo to see the TV Show, “What’s My Line” in which Colonel Draper appears as the mystery guest.  The 9 minute video was taken in NYC in 1953.

Do you know the history behind our famed Air Force Ones?  Few of us seem to remember, but the story is truly fascinating if not intriguing.  The only “Air Force One” retired aircraft not on display within the walls of a museum, this first to bear the distinctive title, sits out on the cleared desert landscape of Avra Valley Airport, near Marana, AZ, about 25 miles Northwest of Tucson, AZ.  It has been parked there for over 44 years, as of this writing, not even still the property of the United States, but privately owned by a businessman from Idaho, Mel Chrysler, who purchased the airplane without realizing it was once our nation’s most important VIP aircraft.  He had the winning bid at the auction in which 5 Lockheed Constellation ships were sold by the USAF.  He intended to employ the beautiful airliners in his large scale crop dusting enterprise. However, Mr. Chrysler discovered that, of the five planes, Columbine II was in the worst condition.  Accordingly, he initially intended to canibalize the craft for the parts needed to make the other four ships airworthy.  However, those plans changed when the crucial historical significance of this scrapped and once famous airliner was discovered.  To watch the full story, simply click on the first photo up above and watch the short (5:00 minute) video documentary about this historic aircraft – and the plans for its historical preservation.  Then click on the second composite photo to see the 9 minute 1953 CBS TV show, “What’s My Line,” in which Ike’s long time pilot was the mystery guest.

NEW POST – April 15, 2015: 

Thanks to Mr. Jim Pulliam, an FASF site follower, we have discovered that you can help this noble Columbine II Restoration Project by going to the site erected for this purpose.  Here is is:


  1. Jim Pulliam

    What are the plans for the first Air Force One – Columbine II?
    How can individuals donate to this project.
    I don’t see a link or address.
    I don’t think Ike is liked by the gov bureaucrats because of his comments about the Military Industrial Complex and that is probably why the first Air Force One was sold by the DOD.

    1. fasfric

      Jim – If you check the following URL, you’ll find that specific plans are now underway to restore Ike’s original Air Force One, or Columbine II: At that site you’ll find instructions on helping them out with their historic project. At our first posting of this Columbine dilemma, we didn’t yet have that information, but now we do. Since you brought this to our attention, I’ll put the link to that restoration project on that FASF article you just perused.

      You may be right about your thoughts regarding the Ike and the “Military Industrial” establishment, but of course we have no idea if it’s true or not. No doubt Ike would not have savored our engagements in the Middle Eastern conflicts from the original “Gulf War.”

      I had the pleasure of meeting him while a student at Columbia in the early fifties, when he was its President and later, in 1952, when elected U.S. President. I’ll never forget that election night when he and Mamie returned to their Columbia home at 60 Morningside Drive after his victory celebration in downtown Manhattan. He later made it very clear, notwithstanding his long career as a military officer, in fact largely because of his wartime experiences, that he was strongly dedicated to peace. Thanks for your remarks, and please consider joining our own historical enterprise here with the FASF. We’d love to have you as a member! Just click on the top menu of our site, where it has the “MEMBERSHIP” button, and, scrolling down, you’ll find an application. ric lambart, President, FASF.

  2. Pingback: Air Force One – – – Columbine II Project – – – is Underway! | First Aero Squadron Foundation ™

Leave a Reply