Musicians and celebrities globally are well known for their tastes in private jets. From Iron Maiden’s 747 to Mark Cuban’s 767, buying a plane is an ultimate status symbol. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Elvis Presley, known as the “King of Rock and Roll”, had his own 1962 Lockheed TriStar. So what happened to this aircraft and where is it now?
The King’s jet
Elvis Presley was no stranger to private jets, in fact, the 1962 Lockheed JetStar L-1329 was the third aircraft in his fleet. Aside from being a flying home for the star, he also split the plane with his father, Vernon Presley, making it particularly special.
The JetStar was Elvis’ last aircraft and is considered to be the “lost jet” by many, being bought by the star in 1976 (a year before his death). While it was not as famous as the “Lisa Marie” or “Hound Dog II”, this aircraft is the only one privately owned and has been up for sale in the past too. While it might not be as famous, it has all the hallmarks of a classic Elvis jet.
— Jorge Villón (@jvillon7) June 23, 2018
The aircraft can comfortably seat eight passengers and features red velvet interiors with wood paneling and a shag carpet in the main cabin. The plane also features a music system onboard (a must for Elvis) and has its own bathroom. While it certainly looks great on the inside, the plane has seen better days.
According to Robb Report, after being sold by Elvis in 1977, the plane had little life after that. The aircraft has spent 35 years in a desert in Roswell, New Mexico. Its engines and flight components have been removed, rendering it no longer airworthy. Notably, the outside has caught layers of rust, hiding its previous life of luxury.
However, despite the obvious shortcomings, there has been a lot of interest in this aircraft in the last few years. As the only Elvis jet available for sale (the other two are on display in Graceland in perpetuity), it has gone up for auction several times. In 2017, it sold for $430,000, lower than its estimated multimillion price, but still a respectable amount.
The plane went up for sale once again in 2018 and bidding opened lower than many had expected. However, considering how valuable Elvis collectible can be, don’t expect this jet to be particularly cheap. Many have noted that restoring this aircraft to flying condition, or refurbishing it, could attract millions in visitations and attraction fees.
The 1962 Lockheed JetStar is currently registered N440RM and remains in private hands. The JetStar was a particularly popular aircraft among celebrities and VIPs looking to jet off. Frank Sinatra was another singer using the aircraft and President Lyndon B Johnson affectionately referred to his JetStar as the “Air Force One and Half”.
Sadly, production came to an end in the 1970s and the jet has become a rarity outside museums. If you have a chance to see one, remember it has a long history behind it!