As our readers are well aware, over the past few months, a team from Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Virginia has been hard at work trying to resurrect President Eisenhower’s VC-121A Constellation known as Columbine II in Marana, Arizona. Rather than buy the aircraft outright, they decided first to see if it were feasible to return the aircraft to flying condition. They have poured many hundreds, and most probably thousands, of hours into working over the retired airliner, the very first aircraft ever to have the call-sign “Air Force One” when a president was aboard. The original intent was to bring the aircraft up to ferriable condition, and then bring her back to their base in Bridgewater for a more thorough overhaul. Things have changed a little since then, as you will see from the press release below… but the BIG NEWS is that Dynamic Aviation has decided to purchase the aircraft!!!
The 1948 Lockheed C-121A Constellation was the first presidential airplane to be called “Air Force One.”
Karl. D. Stoltzfus Sr., founder of Dynamic Aviation and the drive behind the restoration project, says, “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.”
Stoltzfus’ interest lies in his desire to preserve Columbine II as a symbol of America’s integrity and that of our leaders in that era. Plans are to fly it to Bridgewater, VA for restoration and to then operate it on the air show circuit. Some very ambitious plans to take Columbine II to major anniversary celebrations for events of the 1940’s and 1950’s are under consideration.
Stoltzfus says, “People thank me for leading Dynamic in the preservation of this national treasure. However, the real credit goes to Harry Oliver and Lockie Christler, its present owners, who saw its value back in the 1990’s and did major work on it at that time. Without their dedication and their efforts to preserve it, it would most likely have been melted down long ago.”
He continues, “While Dynamic is heading up this project, it could certainly only happen with the generous participation of others. Among them is Scott Glover and his Mid America Flight Museum of Mt. Pleasant, TX. They have played a key role to this point and are dedicated to the completion of the effort. Glover and his team have provided many hours of skilled labor and support in various ways.”
No date has been set for the flight to Virginia. Present hopes are to have the aircraft fully airworthy and to fly it home as a certificated aircraft rather than on a ferry permit, which obviously extends the time needed to prepare it for flight.
Saw her deteriorating in the Arizona desert, but now she has risen, like the Phoenix from a certain demise, and lives again. Boo yeah.
How is restoration of Columbine II going? I toured her when she was in Marana, Arizona and sat in every seat. Which one did Queen Elizabeth sit in? I live in Tucson and enjoyed my visit.
Understand the Columbine was purchased along with 5 other Constellations to convert in to agriculture spraying planes. Columbine was to be used for parts. The sprayer firm was from Wyoming. What a fantastic Airplane!!!!