Note: This aircraft is located in the Presidential Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The gallery will close until further notice beginning May 1, 2013, as part of budget reduction requirements due to sequestration.
The C-121 is the military version of the famed Constellation commercial transport. During World War II, the AAF purchased 22 early model Constellations, which were designated C-69s, and between 1948 and 1955 the USAF ordered 150 C-121s for use as cargo and passenger carriers, executive transports and airborne early warning picket ships.
The aircraft on display, the only VC-121E built, was President Dwight Eisenhower's personal airplane between 1954 and 1961. Mrs. Eisenhower christened it Columbine III in honor of the official flower of Colorado, her adopted home state, in ceremonies on Nov. 24, 1954. Columbine III served as the presidential aircraft until President Eisenhower left office in January 1961. It remained in service transporting government officials and visiting foreign dignitaries throughout the world until it was retired to the museum in 1966.
SPECIFICATIONS: Span: 123 ft. Length: 116 ft. 2 in. Height: 24 ft. 9 in. Weight: 133,000 lbs. maximum Armament: None Engines: Four Wright R-3350s of 3,400 hp each Cost: $2,647,000 Serial number: 53-7885
PERFORMANCE: Maximum speed: 330 mph Cruising speed: 255 mph Range: 4,000 miles Service ceiling: 33,600 ft.