Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Whether a 1962 Lockheed Jetstar parked for decades at the Roswell International Air Center was really Elvis Presley’s plane and whether its interior was chosen by “The King” have been called into question by a Roswell man, but the firm planning to auction the plane Saturday is standing by its assertions that the plane was owned and custom-designed by Presley.
Roy McKay, the owner of McKay Oil Corp. of Roswell, said that he owned the plane from about 1980 to 1999 and that he renovated the interior from a two-tone gray to the current wine-colored seats and carpet with wood paneling.
“I guess morally if someone is going to pay $2 million to $3 million, they ought to know the truth,” McKay told the Daily Record Wednesday. “Of course, it was designed to my tastes, not to Elvis’s, although this might have been Elvis’s taste, too.”
McKay said that he had chosen the design not only to complement the cranberry-red exterior paint but also to be reminiscent of the interior of a restaurant and lounge he liked. He said he purchased the plane from a broker who had bought it from a bankruptcy sale involving a California real estate firm.
McKay did not have photographs of the plane before its redesign, but he did have a folder of photos showing the interior, which includes six recliner seats and a bench seat holding about four people. Some photos also showed him and his wife, Charolette, outside the plane.
McKay said he was never told that it belonged to Presley when he bought it and was unconcerned either way when he heard people say that about it later.
“It didn’t matter to me,” he said. “I bought it because it was pretty, most beautiful plane.”
McKay called it the Cadillac of planes, fast and smooth to operate.
A spokesman for GWS Auction LLC of Beverly Hills, California, said Wednesday that the auction company has documentation to prove the legitimacy of Presley’s ownership of the plane.
“Our owner of the plane, who has owned it for 30 years, says this was Elvis’s plane and built to his specifications,” said Carl Carter, a spokesperson for GWS Auction. “We do have the documents showing the transfer of ownership from Elvis.”
The online bid at gwsauctions.com for the plane was $21,000 Wednesday night, but the auction firm previously said that it was expected to sell for $2 million to $3 million.
Press and website reports have been referring to the plane as Presley’s since at least 2002. It has been stored at the Roswell International Air Center since the late 1990s and occasionally tours of the plane have been offered by the city or the Walker Aviation Museum with permission of owners. Members of the media were allowed to tour the plane Wednesday afternoon.
In 2015, the plane was owned by the Ed Kruse Foundation, according to a press report. The auction firm has declined to give the name of the current owners.
Carter said Wednesday during the media tour of the Lockheed JetStar that the plane’s owner stands by the authenticity that the jet was owned and designed by Presley, and that it was Presley’s first plane. He said there are no federal records of the plane having a major interior renovation in the 1980s as McKay asserts.
“The other place that it would show up would be in the maintenance records, but they’re really weren’t any,” Carter said, adding the plane has had its same registration number throughout its existence.
Carter said he has spoken with McKay regarding McKay’s assertions that the plane was never owned by Presley.
“I respect Mr. McKay’s sincerity and I understand what he’s saying. He may have done something to it, but there’s no record of it,” Carter said. “He indicated he doesn’t have any pictures or documentation of (the renovation) and there are no maintenance records that show that.”
Carter said he’s been unable to find any photos of the plane with Presley.
“We’re very confident that we’re representing the truth, what’s always been understood to be the case around here,” Carter said. “The best evidence indicates that we’re presenting the best evidence available. We checked the (Federal Aviation Administration) logs. We looked for maintenance records that would say otherwise, and there’s nothing there.”
The plane is set for auction at 10 a.m. Pacific time. The engines have been removed from the plane and it has been inoperable for about 30 years.
Carter said the plane, equipped with a recessed TV and taps for hot and cold beverages, would make a nice museum exhibit.
“I think that’s the highest and best use of this plane,” Carter said.