Elvis Presley may have left the building but his 1962 Lockheed 1319 JetStar has another story in its saga, unfolding over the past year after the jet was found abandoned in the desert and put up for auction and then bought by a YouTuber who has since taken it apart to transform it into an RV experience. The new owner cut the wings and other parts of the plane into pieces and created thousands of JetStar tags for Elvis fans and aviation enthusiasts alike, including a special contribution to Presley's favorite charity, St. Jude.
YouTuber James Webb bought the jet at an auction in January for $234,000. Presley bought the plane on Dec. 22, 1976 for $840,000 ($4.4 million today) just one year before he died. The red and silver plane has a custom interior fit for the King, including lavish red velvet upholstery and gold-finish hardware. Webb excitedly shared the process with his followers and has documented the journey on his channel since he bought the jet in January. His account, Jimmy's World, began with an abandoned Piper Cherokee 6 and has grown into a channel dedicated to answering the question, "Will it run?RELATED STORIES:Elvis Presley JetStar new owner dismantles plane to turn it into RV experienceElvis Presley's jet powers on for the first time in 40 years
A video shared on April 28 showed Webb and a team cutting up the wings, tail section and other components not needed in the RV conversion. The different parts of the plane were cut down into 3,000 pieces for a special project. The cut pieces will be cut down to a smaller size and taken to an engraver to laser in serial numbers and a special commemorative design. The tags are available for sale now and Webb said the money would be used to pay for the project and help to fund the RV conversion. But the profits from the tag sales are not purely for Webb and his Elvis jet endeavors.
The first tag made, serial number 001 was unfortunately lost after it was made. To continue with his special plan for the first tag, now lost, Webb remade the tag with a slightly different design to maintain a semblance of truth when rebranding the technical second tag as the first. The (new) first tag was neatly framed with a picture of the JetStar, a certificate of authenticity and a copy of the original Aircraft Bill of Sale with Presley as the purchaser. The framed piece was donated to Presley's favorite charity, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital based in Memphis and sold in an auction, much like the jet was just months ago.
The remaining pieces are up for sale on Webb's site and some of the proceeds will also be going to charity. There are various "levels" for the tags, from $299.99 to $20,000. One lucky buyer will get serial #1935 (Elvis' birth year) or the only Red Rotating Beacon off of the plane. The two highest prices listings will be paid for through donations to Wings of Compassion. Wings of Compassion is a non-profit that aims to offer veterans support and care including air transport and pilot training.
The exclusive $20,000 tag is framed with a picture of the jet, a certificate of authenticity, an Aircraft Bill of Sale and special exclusive offerings. The limited pieces can be purchased through a donation to Wings of Compassion. The buyers of this exclusive offering will also have one of the nine airplane seats named in their honor with a permanent plaque, a name included on the plaque at the entry of the jet, a day of entertainment and dining at the jet and VIP access to the reveal party and comeback tour. Interested (and charitable) buyers can donate directly to Wings of Compassion with their requested serial numbers and seat.
The $5,000 option can also be bought by donating directly to Wings of Compassion. These buyers will also have a custom-framed tag with FAA bill of sale, certificate of authenticity and a picture of the jet. This offering will also give the buyers VIP access to the reveal party and tour and a name on the plaque in the jet.
The "Gold Level" offering for $499.99 is on sale from $599.99 and includes a custom matted tag, a picture of the jet, an FAA bill of sale and a certificate of authenticity. Buyers can put three requested serial numbers in a note at checkout for an additional charge, but as a disclaimer, there is no guarantee you will get the serial number you desire. These buyers will also have VIP access to the reveal party and tour. These sales will be going directly to Webb and used to refurbish the fuselage and convert it to a mobile Elvis Jet experience.
The "Red Velvet" level is offered for $299.99, $100 off the original price. This sale will include a display card for the tag, an FAA bill of sale, a certificate of authenticity and a picture of the jet. Buyers can also request a specific serial number for an additional charge. The funds from these sales will also be used toward converting the jet to an RV experience.
Webb found a new use for the sun-kissed jet that was left forgotten in a desert for decades. When he first went out to power the jet, hooking it up to a ground power unit to bring it to life, he had it evaluated to determine the total costs needed to repair the plane. With all the likely costs, it would have taken $5.7 million to repair the plane but due to airworthiness directives associated with the aircraft and a lack of components to muffle the roaring jet sounds, it would never legally be allowed to run even if Webb came up with over $5 million to save it. This led to the decision to convert the fuselage into an RV and allow guests to experience the King's luxury lifestyle all over the country.
While comments sections boiled as Webb cut the jet in half to haul it across the country to cut it down further and transform it, he found a better use than letting it bleach under the hot sun in Roswell. Now, pieces of the jet have been used to raise funds for children, veterans and the RV conversion project. Fans of Jimmy's World, Elvis and aviation have followed the journey closely to see what Webb did with the plane and can now own a piece of it for themselves.