The history of the Lisa Marie 880 EP
Though Elvis wanted to purchase an American Airlines 707 first (Vesco deal), Elvis bought the Convair 880 instead - an aircraft which appeared to be the biggest commercial disaster in U.S airline history (only 65 were built). It's true that the CV880 was unequalled in speed, but because of it's inefficient seat configuration (5 abreast), high oil prices, high operating cost and steep competition from Boeing 707 and DC8, Delta began withrawing it's 880's fleet from service before 1974 - which was 3 years before the planned economic life cycle - and offered the redundant aircaft for sale at bargain prices. Other airlines would follow Delta's policy and before the end of 1974 - all commercial airlines had exchanged their 880's with mostly B707's and DC8's. Elvis bought the plane in April 1975, spent a fortune on customising the aircraft to his own specifications and made his first flight with the LM at November 27 1975 to Las Vegas.
After Elvis death, Vernon sold the plane in 1978 to Omni Int'l (Washington) - who made a quick 40 % profit in selling it for $2 million to Robert Philpot, a Dallas oilman (May 1978) - who could use Elvis' plane as a fund-raising tour for the church to pay off their debts (more info: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 87,00.html
). When both Robert Philpot and the church went banktrupt, Omni Int'l succesfully claimed the plane back. Not long after (1979), the plane was sold to LM Int'l (Nashville) - LM stands for Lisa Marie - who wet-leased the plane (i.e: incl crew) to celebrities and politicians who could afford to travel in luxury (most clients were from the Middle East). The picture at Geneve Airport (see below) is from this period (1980). However, given the high operational costs and it's rather restricted flying range (the 707 had a range of close to 5000 miles, 35 % more than the Convair) - it was difficult to keep on promoting the Lisa Marie as "the ultimate plane to travel the world in class". After the plane changed ownership again and was sold to an aviation company in Sillicon Valley- Ca, it was kept on the ground in Ft Lauderdale. Because of the increasing high maintenance cost to keep the Lisa Marie in the air (no other plane would convert kerosene to smoke and noise like the Convair), it eventually no longer complied with FAA's Airworthiness Directives and was prohibited from flying (1982). Sadly enough, before being moved to Graceland, the Lisa Marie was only used for spareparts (however, occasionally little 'tours' were given to fans who'd spotted the plane). The plane changed hands again and eventually EPE leased the Lisa Marie from Coker Aircarft Inc. in Memphis. Special permisson was requested and given by the FAA to fly the Lisa Marie from Ft. Lauderdale back to Memphis in 1984. Since some parts had been replaced (no owner could have known that the plane would serve as a museum), the plane was restored in it's original state.
Nevertheless, Elvis biggest investment was a disaster. Even if Elvis had lived - the increasing maintenance cost to keep the Lisa Marie from being grounded + the operational expenses (400.000$ in 1976)) - would have resulted in investments that were no longer justified and which Elvis probably could never have paid in the future (unless he'd changed his spending pattern dramatically).
Below - you will find some pictures of the Lisa Marie when it was in service with Delta Airlines - with Elvis On Tour and after Elvis died:
- one of Delta's last commercial flights before this very airplane was being sold to Elvis in 1975
Delta Airlines advertisement:
A pic of a standard Convair 880 lounge - before it was reconfigured to Elvis' wishes.
This is the Lisa Marie 880 EP (same as Delta 880 airplane above - but restyled)
1976 March - Cincinatti
And the most precious of all..
After Vernon sold the plane in 1978 - it was toured all over the world.
1980 - Fort Lauderdale
And back in Memphis:
Last edited by E-Cat on Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.