Yes, this sad looking Lockheed Jetstar that is wasting away on the tarmac of the Roswell Industrial Air Center airport, was once owned by “The King” — Elvis Presley.
But it could be yours, for the right amount of money — probably lots of it. Here’s the story.
In my previous life as a bank executive, I flew in and out of the Roswell airport many times after our banking group acquired a failing Roswell bank that we were hoping to resuscitate. As our company’s spiffy twin-engined Cessna 414 taxied toward the terminal, we would always pass by this once proud by now fading red corporate jet. I was told by our pilot that the plane once belonged to Elvis and had been left there — along with other mothballed aircraft — awaiting sale to a new owner. I was skeptical of the story, but I recently found news about the plane on the internet.
It was, in fact, purchased by Elvis in 1976 and added to his fleet of aircraft. The sale price on the plane when he bought it was about $840,000. He only owned it for about a year before re-selling it to another party. How many times he actually flew in it is not something I could determine. It is not also clear how the jet ended up in Roswell, although that facility has been a storage place for many larger aircraft over the years.
The 1962 Jetstar was considered the first “corporate jet.” It had four engines, was heavy and extremely thirsty for fuel. It was quickly upstaged by Learjets, Cessna Citations, Gulfstream G20s and the like and fell into disfavor among the “jet set.”
But before he sold it, Elvis tricked out his plane with the garish red paint job and a full red velvet interior, giving new meaning to the phrase “velvet Elvis.” It even had an on-board microwave oven, TV and VCR.
The plane has been on the market for years and has passed through the hands of several speculators who assumed it would be worth more, but never got a good offer. It continues to sit sadly at the airport in Roswell, wasting away in the high desert sun. It has been stripped of its original four jet engines and many of its instruments and avionics. The pilot seats are tattered but the interior is still in somewhat good condition.
But in January, Mecum Auto Auctions will offer the plane for sale in an auction in Kissimmee, Florida. Bidders will have to just look at pictures of the plane, since the aircraft is far from airworthy. The company or individual offering up the plane has said that it will have to be disassembled in order to be transported to the new owner — if someone comes forward.
Are you ready to make a bid? It might make a swell conversation piece in your back yard.