A bird flew out of an open engine compartment of a Lockheed Jetstar yesterday, but inside the plane, once owned by Elvis Presley, the red velvet seats were plush and the golden bathroom faucets gleamed.
The 10-passenger jet hadn’t been flown in a few years and probably won’t be again — it’s missing four engines — but that didn’t stop Mark Kuykendall from purchasing the rock ’n’ roll icon’s former personal jet.
After Presley’s death in 1977, Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley, sold it to an aircraft company and it eventually landed in the hands of Roswell resident Roy McKay, according to Kuykendall. McKay said he sold the plane in 2000 to a Polish man, who removed the engines and installed them into a different plane. Since then, the plane has been grounded at the Roswell Industrial Air Center.
Kuykendall, of Sevierville, Tenn., said he’d add the plane to his other collectables, including Presley’s 1960 Lincoln Continental limousine and a 1958 Cadillac El Dorado that Joe DiMaggio gave to Marilyn Monroe.
He said he plans to disassemble the jet and ship it to Tennessee via tractor-trailer. He said he’s not sure where he’s going to store it, but he said the plane needs a few repairs on the outside. “It doesn’t need a lot of restoring inside. I just need to put the covers on the outside” over the engine compartments, he said.
Kuykendall declined to disclose how much he paid for the plane, but McKay said that he sold it to the man from Poland for more than he paid for it. “It looks like a time capsule,” Kuykendall said. “It looks like it’s brand new.”
Toward the back of the jet were cup holders, a bar and a small kitchen. The ladder to climb inside wobbled slightly, but a local locksmith was on hand to repair it.
“I’d rather not let it sit here,” Kuykendall said. “I just like to preserve history. That’s what I like to do.”
(By Lillian Kafka - Roswell Daily Record)