Elvis’ jet is grounded—forever—but its new owner is flying high


Elvis’ plane has left the desert. Finally. And much like the musical legacy of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, whose rabid fans were often alerted that “Elvis has left the building, ”Presley’s 1962 Lockheed 1329 JetStar lives on. Just not in its original form.

Florida YouTube personality James Webb, known for his popular Jimmy’s World videos, successfully bid $234,000 to acquire the dilapidated and engineless JetStar at Mecum’s annual Kissimmee Auction in January, 2023. What Webb was going to do with it was anyone’s guess at the time, but in the last six weeks his plans have unfolded on YouTube and in the news media.

“I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Webb tells Fox 13 Tampa Bay. “And the whole time I was never quite sure if this was the best choice or the worst choice of my life.”

Jimmys World Inspects Elvis Plane
Webb inspecting the cockpit of his new purchase. Youtube/Jimmys World

Lockheed’s JetStar was the executive jet of choice for countless A-listers, dignitaries, and celebrities. It was powered by four engines, contained in pods mounted at the rear of the fuselage, that together provided a maximum speed of around 565 mph. Range was 2500 miles. Inside, there was room for 8 to 10 passengers to ride in style, serviced by two pilots and a cabin attendant.

About 200 JetStars were produced at Lockheed’s Marietta, Georgia, facility. Presley bought this one, registered with the FAA as N-20TF, from Omni Aircraft Sales, Inc. on December 22, 1976. He paid a whopping $840,000, the equivalent of about $4.4 million today.

No stranger to luxury aircraft, the King already owned a custom Convair 880 that he named “Lisa Marie,” after his daughter, and another JetStar. Those planes are currently on display at Graceland, Presley’s mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.

Jimmys World Inspects Elvis Plane
Youtube/Jimmys World

The interior of N-20TF leaves little doubt that it once belonged to Elvis, resplendent in wood paneling and red velvet upholstery with hardware finished in gold. Six plush chairs swivel and recline, and there’s also a couch. An onboard entertainment system is tucked away in a media cabinet and features a television, RCA VCR player, and audio cassette player, and there are headphone ports and audio controls at every seat. The galley contains a meal-prep area (complete with a Kenmore microwave and beverage dispenser) and storage. A restroom is in the rear of the jet.

As luxurious as the JetStar is (er, was), Presley didn’t own it long, selling it not six months later, in the spring of 1977. According to Mecum, the plane ended up with a Saudi Arabian company but was eventually moved to Roswell International Air Center (ROW) in Roswell, New Mexico, where it resided for decades.

The JetStar has been offered at auction at least three times, and Webb says his $234K bid was deemed the winner this January after a higher bid fell through. That’s when his adventure began.

Webb traveled to New Mexico to check out his new acquisition a couple of weeks ago and revealed his obvious admiration for both planes and Elvis in a video on his YouTube channel.

During the 22-minute video, Webb acts like a kid in a candy store, excitedly discovering that many of its interior features still work, the cockpit controls light up, and the landing lights, taxi lights, and beacon still function.

“The lights work!”

“The microwave works! Yes!”

“This is my favorite thing EVER!”

“I’m just beside myself with excitement … if you couldn’t tell.”

A week later, Webb followed with a second video in which he invites Roswell’s Aerodesign Services to answer the question: “Will it ever fly again?” The answer blew his mind, and it didn’t take long to realize the news wasn’t going to be good.

“This is going to be a nightmare, if it’s even possible,” says Aerodesign’s Ryan Zaharia while inspecting the exterior of the plane. “… It would be a miracle. I’ve never seen an aircraft so damaged in my life.”

After a full inspection, Ryan takes to the whiteboard and shares the results: Inspections, $80K; testing, $20K; stripping/painting, $120K; panel and rivet replacement, $75K; flight control panels ($35K each x 9 panels), $450K; landing gear ($120K each x 3), $360K; brakes ($6K per brake pad, two on each), $24K; fuel tanks ($5K x 2), $10K; avionics/electrical, $1.5 million; Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), $180K; miscellaneous hardware, hoses, and fittings, $100K; four JT12 engines (“If the stars align and you can find them”), $2.2 million; flight testing, $100K; and mandatory Airworthy Directives, $450K.

Grand total: $5.7 million.

“I’m numb,” Webb says.

Jimmys World Buys Elvis Plane front three quarter

Zaharia then delivers the final blow. Even if the plane were made functional again, current noise regulations wouldn’t allow it to fly.

“It’s too loud to even start up and run,” he says. “They make ‘hush kits’ to reduce noise, but they don’t make them for your aircraft.”

In other words, as Webb acknowledges, this cost analysis doesn’t matter.

“That’s true,” Zaharia says. “There’s no possible way that plane is flying.”

Webb turns to the camera: “Plan A was to get the airplane flying again … It’s not going to fly again. Plan B: What are we going to do with this thing?”

Before he could answer that question, the JetStar had to be disassembled so it could be hauled cross-country to Florida. It was easy to watch the process through a couple of Instagram accounts: Webb’s (therealjimmysworld) and the hauling company’s (gns_trucking379).

jet Plane GNS Trucking shipment on tarmac

Once in Florida, Webb chatted with members of the media, which was given access to the plane in a warehouse in Plant City. Webb’s next big idea, it appears, is to turn Elvis’ jet into a giant, roadworthy vehicle that will tour the country.

“We’re going to take an RV chassis, take the house part of the RV off, put [the plane] on that, so this can drive around,” Webb tells FOX 13. “It would be like the Elvis Mobile. We’re going to take it to Las Vegas, maybe Graceland.”

Then he stops and considers. “They kicked us out when we were [at Graceland] trying to bring it here. That’s another story.”

Webb—wearing a t-shirt that reads, “What could go wrong?”—says he also plans to cut the wings and fuel tanks into pieces and sell them as Elvis memorabilia. You can understand why he’d like to recoup some of what he spent to buy a plane that doesn’t—can’t, legally—fly.

“This was, ironically, more expensive than my house,” he admits. “How crazy is that?”

Depends on how much you love The King.


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    I just can’t understand people. I love Elvis’ music but even if I had more money than Bruce Wayne I wouldn’t touch this wreckage with a ten foot pole. Mind boggling…

    I agree, nothing but scrap metal and junk and it is not even the original Lisa Marie jet Some people were borne with a gold spoon in their mouth but also minus a brain.

    “Some people were borne with a gold spoon in their mouth but also minus a brain.”

    Are you talking about the buyer? He’s not rich, he’s an entrepreneur and you have to take chances to make money. So stay in your safe place, work your job, and don’t be critical of other who have dreams and work to make them happen

    I grew up dirt poor,and hungry etc,worked 60-80 hours a week for years on end with no holidays to make it,and retired 30 years early. And pi55e5 me off to hear crap like I had a golden spoon, am entitled, or “privileged”.

    Send it to Grande Prairie Alberta Canada. They spend more
    Money in fracking here, it could easily be used as a crew lunchroom. Or…may make a very unique food truck

    Aww c’mon – if Oscar Meyer can field the Wienermobile, why can’t Jimmy produce the Elvis Mobile? Seems logical to me (I’m kidding – this is bat-poop crazy)! 😆

    Jimmy Webb aka ‘Jimmy’s World’ is total freakin’ genius! He brings to the discovery and restoration/exploitation of older airlanes the same kind of zeal as that of a kid opening Chhristmas presents.
    I hope he figures out not only how to get his obviously hard-earned money back, but turns a profit with this ‘Elvis’ plane deal, and that some of the fame that goes with the same kind of ‘crazy’ Elvis had rubs off on him. He deserves it, tackling some of the things he does

    Well have been following this two things that stick out the plane probably should have been kept whole maybe put in a museum but he bought it for an outrageous amount of money which is kind of ridiculous and the other thing is which is also kind of Ridiculous and Actually Pretty Sickening is the way Graceland Treats & Over Charges Elvis Fans & Visitors ! They Should Take a Hard Look At where the Money Comes From to Keep Them Going Elvis Was Very Kind To His Fans That’s Why He Still Had a loyal Following 45 Years Later Elvis Would Not Be Happy . Jimmy and his crew did nothing wrong they just wanted to take photos and have the experience of being there with the plane total unnecessary b******* the way they were treated and it really turns me off about Graceland not to mention the outrageous crime around the area someone I know got their car broken into and robbed give me a break

    Memphis is Memphis but Graceland is secure and special. Been there twice and enjoyed every second never feeling I was taken advantage of or not safe. Kind of wish he had worked out a deal with EPl to add it to the current collection of planes at Graceland.

    Maybe they will pick it up and make a tv show out of it while he rebuilds it. It has to be better than some of that sh#$ on tv today. He could rent it out people would go crazy over that a bnb on wheels.

    Why not develop the jet into a vacation rental. That would definitely make money…especially set up in Florida. The cost to do this would probably pay for itself in less than 3 years. Hire a designer to come in give you some ideas!

    Should be turned into a honey moon suite, heart make hotel. Fans of Elvis like myself, would love this, especially round Graceland.

    I’ve yet to see a picture of Elvis boarding or sitting in this. Only owned this 6 months and dumped it after renovation.

    A higher bid “fell through”…..WOW this guy has no idea. He was deemed the “winner”. The only winners here were the consignor and Mecum Auctions. He says he is going to make it in to some sort of RV to raise money for charities so I hope he can make something good out of this.

    Whoever have him the restoration numbers didn’t know what they were talking about.
    “Flight control panels” 9 at 35k each…nonsense.

    Very few JetStars are flying. Which means: either parts are NLA,
    Or..cheap from salvage yards.
    An acquaintance has one, he had two but sold one abroad.
    He told me they had recently scrapped Mario Andretti’s old JetStar.

    Before Webb does something dtupid, call White Industries, a big aviation salvage firm. They will have the parts.

    Too late to keep him from doing anything stupid. He already paid $234,000 for this thing!
    Everything he does from here forward is probably just gonna be stupid-ER. 😂

    You know, plenty of folks will say the same thing about a hobbiest who spends a large amount of cash and effort on an old car restoration to find out that it might bring 1/3 to 1/2 of that amount at sale. People embark on projects for many different reasons unrelated to making financial sense.

    Yes! This! Jim, I’m so upside down on my ’04 Holden/Pontiac GTO I couldn’t possibly sell it… wouldn’t anyway, love that thing.
    I saw this aircraft on an episode of “What on Earth”, a Science Channel show that explains, or tries to explain, odd things seen by the 4000+ satellites watching us 24/7. Not an Elvis fan, but I felt bad for the aircraft. Nothing like that should be abused and neglected in that manner. Sigh.

    Never understood celebrity.if joe the plumber owned the plane it would be virtually worthless. But some human named Elvis owned it and it’s worth a quarter million. We live in a weird world.

    The main problem is the engines. The originals were military models – very noisy and not very efficient. Modifications were made to lower the noise levels, and the resulting planes were flyable, but those engines are hard to find these days. The last listing I saw was $12,500 each for rebuilts, which seems reasonable to me. Seems to me that all of the missing flight control units could be replaced with STC’d newer stuff for much less than what these people are talking.

    Virtually no STCs for the Jetstar. Cost to get the STC for the Jetstar on parts STC’d for other planes is still CRAZY expensive. They would have to convert it to different engines – and getting an STC for that would never pay for itself with virtually no L329 or military C140 versions still in flyable condition. He should have done just a WEE bit of homework BEFORE bidding on it. at 24000 lb flying weight there is likely less than 18000 lb of scrap aluminum (with no engines) – and at spot price of $1.20 per lb it is worth about $21,600 minus the labor required to disassemble it. Factoring in shipping costs $15000 would be on the high side.

    Has it been confirmed that Elvis ever even boarded this thing? He only owned it for 6 months. I’d be more impressed if pictures and/ or videos were shown of Elvis boarding the jet and sitting in it. I’ve yet to see any proof of this in any news story. Owning it for such a short time is indicative that buying it was a mistake and maybe dumped it without ever using it.

    He found out that the galley didn’t come with any peanut butter and banana sandwiches on board, so he told his people to get rid of it… 😏🥜🍌🥪

    People who think this is crazy don’t know what YouTube content is worth. It’s like a reality show, it only makes sense when people watch it, and the person showing it gets paid. To the people asking “Who would watch THAT?’… you just did, right?

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