The History

 

The history of First Air Force One is incredibly unique. From carrying the US President and foreign dignitaries to being forgotten in the desert, the timeline of First Air Force One’s life is a story all its own.

Commander-in-Chief

D-Day, June 6, 1944: the Allied plan to storm the fields and sweep in from the beaches of Normandy to regain French soil from German hands. To say that it was a masterful coordination of troops, military equipment, and vessels of air, land, and sea understates the meticulous planning and training required for an international collaboration of this scale. Over 150,000 troops representing a dozen nations were landed in Normandy, France. Airborne operations involved 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders that delivered troops and supplies. Almost 7,000 ships took part.

Dwight Eisenhower’s role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe played a pivotal role in the Allied victory – not only of the D-Day invasion but of the triumph of Allied nations in World War II. Eisenhower subsequently became the Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He went on to win the 1952 and 1956 Presidential elections each by a landslide. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Eisenhower authorized the establishment of NASA, which led to the Space Race. The United States ultimately triumphed, with the successful Apollo 11 mission and Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon on July 21, 1969.

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Operation Overlord, 1944, addressing the Allied troops prior to their mission.

President-elect Eisenhower eating with troops on the Korean peninsula, November 1952.

President-elect Eisenhower eating with troops on the Korean peninsula, November 1952.

Forgotten in the Desert

The airplane was at one time considered ‘The lost Air Force One’, abandoned in the desert and left for scrap. A crop spraying company bought a group of five Lockheed Constellations in 1970 – four of them were operable and the fifth used for parts. In 1980, the Smithsonian contacted the owner to inform him that the fifth aircraft was actually the first Air Force One. The patriotic businessman realized he couldn’t scrap it, and for over a decade, tried to find a way to restore it.

Dynamic Aviation, having learned of the languishing and deteriorating situation, was unwilling to let First Air Force One vanish into obscurity, and decided in 2015 that the company should purchase the aircraft and restore it for future generations.

“When we saw this airplane was available, we took a look at it and eventually decided we ought to do something. Dynamic Aviation is the registered owner but essentially, this is an airplane that belongs to the American public”, said Karl Stoltzfus, Sr. “Eventually we want to invite people to go on board and see the exact location where President Eisenhower worked and lived. The intention is to fully restore the interior to its original state and the plane to airworthy status. It needs to be made available to the American people.”

The plane had not been flown since 2003. A team from Dynamic Aviation and Mid America Flight Museum began evaluating her airworthiness and determining what it would take to get her to Dynamic Aviation headquarters in Bridgewater, Virginia.

After a year of intense labor, First Air Force One took to the skies once more for its first flight since 2003. The aircraft performed beautifully and landed at Dynamic Aviation on March 23, 2016.

Timeline of First Air Force One

1943-1958

Lockheed Martin Constellation Produced

Lockheed Martin produced 856 Constellation aircraft from 1943 to 1958.

1953

Eisenhower Chooses Constellation

Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower flew in a Constellation he named Columbine . When he took office in 1953, a Lockheed Constellation that he called Columbine II became the official presidential aircraft. President Eisenhower flew approximately 63,844 miles aboard Columbine II, and his famous “Atoms for Peace” speech was written while on board.

1954

Mid Air Confusion Leads to Air Force One Call sign

Confusion over Air Traffic Control using the call sign Air Force 8610 while Eastern Airlines Flight 8610 flew in the same air space led to the creation of a unique call sign for the plane carrying the President, Air Force One.

1970

First Air Force One Auctioned

Forgotten in the desert, Columbine II waits for a new owner.

2015

Dynamic Aviation Buys Columbine II

Karl Stoltzfus, Sr., co-founder of Dynamic Aviation, happened across an article about Columbine II, a forgotten aircraft languishing in the Arizona desert. The article stated that if the plane wasn’t moved soon it would be cut up and scrapped. Stoltzfus followed the news for months, hoping someone would come forward to save it. When it was clear that no one would, he began taking steps toward buying it in 2015.

2016

First Air Force Flies Again

On March 21, 2016, after a year of intense labor, First Air Force One once more took to the skies in its first flight since 2003. The plane performed beautifully and landed at Dynamic Aviation on March 23.

present
& future

The Present

First Air Force One is now being restored to its former glory at a specially built hangar at Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Virgina. Once completed, the aircraft will fly across the nation as a reminder of America’s role in today’s world. This aircraft symbolizes optimism and belief in the American dream that bolsters the human spirit — a message that reaches across generations.

First Air Force One Facts

Manufacturer

Lockheed Martin
Burbank, California

Model

C-121A

Date

1948

Serial Number

48-610

1948-1968

Military Service

1970-2014

Civilian use by Christler Family

2014-Present

Restoration and ownership by Dynamic Aviation

Miles Flown

President Eisenhower flew a total of 63,844 aboard First Air Force One

Military service years

First Air Force One flew 20 years in military service from 1948-1968.

Service Ceiling Feet

When the Constellation first starting flying near the end of WWII, the aircraft had a service ceiling of 24,000 feet.

MPH Max speed

The Constellation had a cruise speed of 340 mph, and a max speed of 375 mph.

Your investment in this project will allow us to leave a legacy to future generations of dignity, freedom, and peace through America’s role in today’s world.