Elvis Presley's "Graceland" estate in Memphis, Tennessee draws half a million tourists annually, and two things that draw Elvis fans to the site are his old planes, The Lisa Marie, and Hound Dog II. But now, the plane's owners are being told to remove the planes by next April.
The planes have been on site at Graceland for thirty years, but in April, Elvis Presley Enterprises told the plane's owners (the OKC Partnership) "to make arrangements for the removal of the airplanes and the restoration of the site on or shortly after April 26, 2015." OKC Partnership had agreed to park the planes at Graceland for a cut of the ticket sales. Now it seems Elvis Presley Enterprises may want to terminate the agreement.
The news had Priscilla Presley all shook up, as she issued a statement on her Facebook page, saying what's in the news may not be the complete truth:
"I'm reading what you are saying, but listen, the people who own the plane put the release out to intentionally upset everyone. We're on top of it. thank you for your trust in us. We will soon be putting out a release about some new and exciting things happening at Graceland. I can't imagine you'll be disappointed."
The Lisa Marie is a Convair 880 (pictured at top) that had flown with Delta Air Lines, registered N8809E. Elvis bought the plane in April of 1975 for $250,000 after it was retired from Delta's fleet, and spent a total of $600,000 on it, including refurbishment. For the interior, Elvis hired a design team that had previously worked on the interior of Air Force One. The last time the Lisa Marie flew, it took Elvis' ex wife Priscilla, his daughter Lisa Marie and friend George Hamilton to Elvis' funeral in 1977.
Designed to compete with the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, the Convair 880 never found any demand within its niche. Only 65 were built, and the Lisa Marie is the best-preserved example.
Elvis' Lockheed JetStar, "Hound Dog II"
It seems Elvis was an aviation geek in his own right. In addition to the Lisa Marie Convair 880 and the Hound Dog II Lockheed JetStar, an Elvis fan site in Australia shows he also had other planes in his possession over the years. He once bought his Manager, Colonel Tom Parker a Grumman Gulfstream G-1, but The Colonel rebuked him, saying "you've got to be kidding me" and that he didn't need the plane. He also leased a Fairchild F-27, which was used to fly his Chow to Boston for kidney treatment at a veterinarian. After twelve days, he canceled the Fairchild lease, and bought an Aero Jet Commander for $508,000. Two weeks later, he put the Gulfstream and the Aero Jet up for sale, and bought the Lockheed JetStar for $899,702.
Between Elvis' death and the time the planes went on display at Graceland, the Hound Dog II was owned by Hustler Magazine founder Larry Flint. The Lisa Marie was the first plane to go on display at Graceland. Elvis Presley Enterprises has announced plans to build a 450-room hotel, theater & restaurant, planned to open by August 2015.
Source: Elvis Australia