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: https://www.columbineii.org/