Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
FREE Admission & Parking

Lockheed VC-121E “Columbine III”

The aircraft on display, the only Lockheed VC-121E built, served as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal airplane from 1954 until he left office in January 1961. A military version of the famous Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation commercial airliner, it has a fuselage “stretched” 18 feet longer than earlier versions. With more powerful engines, greater fuel capacity and greater speed, these aircraft were popularly known as “Super Connies.”


Eisenhower named this aircraft, his third Constellation, Columbine III, after the official state flower of Colorado in honor of his wife Mamie. An adopted daughter of that state, Mrs. Eisenhower formally christened the Columbine III on Nov. 24, 1954, with a flask of water from Colorado instead of the traditional bottle of champagne. Immediately afterward, Columbine III carried the President, the First Lady and British Field Marshall Viscount “Monty” Montgomery to Augusta, Ga., for a five-day golfing vacation over the Thanksgiving holiday.


The aircraft’s most important mission took place in July 1955, when it flew Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to Geneva, Switzerland, for the first peacetime summit between the leaders of the Western democracies and the Soviet leadership. Columbine III served as the president’s official aircraft for six years, and during this time it was also used by key U.S. government officials and foreign dignitaries for high-priority flights.


After President Eisenhower left office, the U.S. Air Force continued to use Columbine III as a VIP transport. The aircraft was retired from service in April 1966 and flown to the museum for permanent display.



Crew: Eight (plus 24 passengers)

Engines: Four Wright R-3350s of 3,400 hp each

Maximum speed: 330 mph

Range: 4,000 miles

Ceiling: 33,600 feet

Weight: 133,000 lbs (loaded)

Click here to return to the Presidential Gallery.

Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Lockheed EC-121D Constellation
Wright R-3350-57 Cyclone Engine
Cockpit360 Images
View Columbine III Cockpit
View Columbine III Radio Operator and Navigator Stations
View Columbine III Crew Quarters 
View Columbine III Galley
View Columbine III Passenger Compartments
View Columbine III Presidential Stateroom
View Columbine III Stateroom Lavatory
Columbine III Moves into Fourth Building