Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to fly in an aircraft during office, but President Dwight D. Eisenhower helped to introduce “Air Force One” as we know it.
In 1953, the Air Force One call sign became synonymous with transporting the president and staff through the clouds, and now one of the airplanes that once carried Eisenhower is sitting in ruins in Marana.
The Lockheed Constellation named Columbine II was state-of-the-art at the time but now is out of use and needs an upgrade, Fox News reports.
But how did it end up in the state? In 1970, the plane was auctioned off to a businessman who helped to restore it in the 1990s, after a call from the Smithsonian confirmed it was a presidential aircraft. Then, it changed ownership and ended up in a field at the Marana Regional Airport.
Timothy Coons, who served as flight engineer on the plane’s last flight 10 years ago, said, “For the derelict condition it looks like, it’s actually in very good shape.”
Coons says the plane could fly again if $200,000 to $300,000 is donated, but it won’t be back in presidential shape unless a few million is provided.