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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The first plane to be designated as Air Force One now sits in a southern Arizona field that's part of Marana Regional Airport.
The aircraft that once spirited President Dwight D. Eisenhower on cross-country voyages is nearly forgotten on a 10-acre parcel, decaying under the relentless glare of the sun.
"I think it's one of these big secrets that, really, few people know that it's out there," airport manager Steve Miller told The Arizona Daily Star. "It's sad that it's just sitting out there, considering its history over the past 70 years."
The original Air Force One is a Lockheed VC-121 Constellation 48-610 that was built in California in 1948. The next year it was converted to carry VIPs and re-designated as a VC-121A.
It was named Columbine II after the state flower of Colorado, the home state of first lady Mamie Eisenhower.
In 1953 it became the official presidential aircraft until it was replaced in 1954, when it became the primary backup aircraft.
After a brief civilian stint with Pan American, the aircraft carried Eisenhower for a final time on Oct. 25, 1959, on a trip from Augusta, Ga., to Washington, D.C.
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