May 14, 2013
By Jim Moore
A DC-9 fitted for VIP comfort, with plush seats, a distinctive paint job, and analog instruments is on the auction block, surplus property with a presidential pedigree.
The General Services Administration has attracted some attention with its latest listing, N681AL, a 1975 McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 derivative operated by the military as a VC-9. It was used to transport presidents, vice presidents, and other VIPs during service with the U.S. Air Force 89th Airlift Wing from 1975 to 2005, according to documents posted with the online listing. It is unclear which presidents flew in this aircraft, which was not the official presidential airplane but an occasional user of the call sign “Air Force One,” which designates any Air Force aircraft traveling with the president on board. An unsigned document posted online states that “various U.S Presidents had occasion to use it.”
The vice president, first lady, high-ranking military brass, congressmen, senators, cabinet secretaries, and foreign heads of state also rode in N681AL at one time or another, according to the bidding information provided.
A $50,000 deposit is required to bid, and bidding opens May 15. The aircraft is parked in Mesa, Ariz., and boxes of spare parts stored in Bern, N.C., are also part of the deal. The buyer will be required to remove both aircraft and parts.
“Successful bidders are cautioned that they will be responsible for loading, packing and removal of any and all property awarded to them from the exact place where the property is located,” the listing notes.
There is no indication in the listing whether the DC-9 is airworthy, though various bid documents list thousands of spare parts that cost the Air Force more than $12 million.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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