Airplane Up for Auction in Mesa Did Act as Air Force One, Historian Says; Still No Bids Yet

The supposed Air Force One airplane up for auction at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport definitely did act as Air Force One, according to an Air Force historian.

The General Services Administration is a couple of days into the two-week online auction, which had zero bids at the time of this post, but the agency has provided a letter stating that President Clinton rode in this particular DC-9 aircraft.

See also:
-Airplane That May Have Been Air Force One Is Sitting at the Mesa Airport

Previously, the agency kind of skirted the issue of whether the plane ever had the call sign of Air Force One, meaning the plane carried the President of the United States, saying it "may have" acted as Air Force One.

"In the 30 years this aircraft was assigned to the 89th Airlift Wing (Feb 1975-Sep 2005) it flew Presidential missions, Vice President, First Lady, Cabinet Secretaries (Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, others), Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, Four-Star Generals, Admirals, Foreign Heads of State and other foreign dignitaries," the GSA said in its description.

Now, it appears that an actual president rode on the plane.

FROM: Mr. Robert Spiers Historian
89th Airlift Wing
1419 Menoher Dr.
Joint base Andrews, MD 20762

SUBJECT: C-9 tail number 73-1681

The C-9 aircraft tail number 73-1681 was in service at the 89th Airlift Wing from February 1975 to September 2005 when it was reassigned to the Air Force Reserve Command at Scott AFB, Illinois. The aircraft served the administrations of Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. Over that time the wing flew thousands of missions. The C-9 was one of the wing's busiest airframes and flew mostly short domestic, North, Central and South American missions. Most of the missions were considered routine and not specifically highlighted in the historical records. However, after a careful look; C-9 aircraft tail number 73-1681 saw occasional use by:

President-elect Reagan and President Clinton.

Vice Presidents Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Albert Gore, and Dick Cheney

First Ladies Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush

Many other dignitaries, both domestic and foreign, were also flown.


Mr. Robert Spiers
Historian, 89th Airlift Wing

This DC-9 obviously wasn't the main aircraft for the president, but could have been used in scenarios such as there being a short runway at the destination airport. Whatever the reason, Clinton apparently hopped in this plane for a trip to Buffalo.

This information doesn't seem to be influencing the bidders too much, though, because there hasn't been a single bid since the auction started on Wednesday.

Perhaps that's because bidding starts at $50,000.

If you were to win the auction for the plane, you'd also get an "associated spare parts inventory" -- which, from photos, looks to be about the size of a moderately sized home -- and is conveniently located in North Carolina.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley