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Library > Fact Sheets > C-140B "JetStar"


Posted 9/27/2007 Printable Fact Sheet
Photo of the much improved (repainted, etc.) of the C-140.
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Lockheed C-140B "JetStar"
S/N 62-4201

Crew:   Three
Engines:   Four Pratt & Whitney J60-P-5 turbojets
Wingspan:   53 ft 8 1/2 in
Length:   60 ft 6 in
Height:   20 ft 6 in
Weight:   empty: 22,500 lbs; max: 40,470 lbs
Speed:   max: 573 mph; cruise: 526 mph
Range:   1,930 miles
Service Ceiling:   36,000 ft
Armament:   None
Cost:   $1,771,000

"Legendary" is the only word for the JetStar. It was designed by the celebrated Lockheed Skunk Works in the late 1950s, which was at the time under the incredibly intuitive genius of Kelly Johnson. Johnson was the brains behind many aircraft, from the P-80 Shooting Star to the U-2 spy plane, as well as the awesome A-12, which in turn morphed into the incredible SR-71 Blackbird.  These planes were all designed before computers and all work was done on a blackboard and with a slide ruler. 

When Kelly got the 'go ahead' on the JetStar, the story goes, he wrote down that day the first flight would be 8 months away, to the day - and it did fly on that designated day, as promised. The plane was designed with every back-up system of a Boeing 707 and the initial pilot training took 6 months to teach them to think fast enough and far enough ahead in anticipation of the plane's needed inputs.

The aircraft's original purpose was to compete in a competition to provide a general Utility Transport Category plane for the Air Force. The two aircraft that made the final grade were the two-engine versions of the JetStar from Lockheed and the Saberliner from North American. The JetStar was the initial choice by the Air Force. Meanwhile, the Kennedy White House was looking for Presidential/VIP transport to augment the first 707s that were being used as Air Force One aircraft, and they contacted Lockheed asking if the JetStar could be re-configured as a four-engine aircraft. Lockheed turned to Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Engines about replacing the two French-built Orpheus engines on the original design with four Pratt engines and the plane was re-engineered to its current design, adding slipper tanks on the wings for extra fuel and range.

However, there is another side to the JetStar: its commercial history. Of the 206 JetStars built, only 15 or so were actually delivered to the Air Force inventory. The rest were purchased by individuals and corporations who needed trans-continental and trans-oceanic transportation. The earliest planes went to the likes of the Vanderbilts, the Shah of Iran and a myriad of Fortune 500 companies (Howard Hughes had four of them through his Summa Corporation).

The aircraft went through 3 engine up-grades in its history, each of which added to its range, reliability and legend. Going on 50 years later there are still over 80 of the planes in use by high net-worth individuals, corporations, and several governments around the world. Current users think nothing of gutting a used JetStar and investing millions (the original JetStar was the first non-military plane of its type to cost more than $1 million). They put new interiors in them now that are alone worth more than twice the plane itself cost - now or originally! In addition, to date, no JetStar has ever gone down due to component failure. Lockheed estimates that half of the planes today are used by people who still do not trust two-engine aircraft - even the likes of the ultra-modern and state-of-the-art Gulfstreams.

This C-140B-LM, S/N 62-4201, was manufactured by Lockheed Corporation in Marietta, Georgia, and delivered to the USAF on 3 July 1963. The aircraft was sent to the 1254th Air Transport Wing at Andrews AFB, Maryland, where it remained until January 1966, when it was transferred to the 89th Military Airlift (Special Air Mission) Wing at the same base. The 89th SAM Wing provides transportation for the President and other cabinet-level VIPs. This aircraft was assigned to President Lyndon Baines Johnson and First Lady Claudia Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson.

In June 1972 this aircraft was redesignated as a VC-140B and by the summer of 1977 was shipped to Ramstein AB, Germany, to serve with the 435th Tactical Airlift Wing. The aircraft was once again redesignated and reconfigured as a C-140B in February 1978, and later that same year moved to the 58th Military Airlift Squadron at Ramstein. The 89th Military Airlift Wing acquired the aircraft again in March 1982 and kept it until it was returned to the 58th in January 1987.

This JetStar returned to the United States in October 1987 when it was sent to serve with the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing and the 1467th Facilities Checking Squadron stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois. The plane was used to check aircraft instrument landing systems, a truly tough job for any airplane, and after a left wing spar cracked she was sent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona for storage in January 1989. In January 1992 the Jetstar was acquired for static display at Hill Aerospace Museum.

The aircraft began restoration four years ago and has consumed approximately 2,000 manhours and $35,000 on its journey back to presentability. Work should be completed by the end of 2004.

Our restoration goal is a unique one: we want the plane to look as nearly as possible as it did when first delivered July 3, 1963, inside and out. When delivered to Hill Aerospace Museum from storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona there was only carpeting and side panels in the main cabin and one-half of the cockpit was missing.

The initial restoration of the cockpit was done by contacting current owners of JetStars and asking them where they went for mechanical parts, etc. Those companies in turn were contacted and over the course of a year, mostly all JetStar parts and instruments were located to fill in the gaps on the instrument panel. Then we located various flight navigation instruments that the pilots would have used in that era and put them in the cockpit along with charts, etc., so it would look like the pilot had just left the aircraft.

The cabin section was a much more difficult job, primarily since the existing seat frames are still in demand for current flight restorations. The old carpet was removed and used as a template for cutting and then installing new padding and carpeting throughout the aircraft. While doing this, over 300 emails and faxes went out trying to locate seats. Finally, we got a call from the prop master at Universal Studios, who said they had a set of JetStar seats that had been used in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie "True Lies," which we could buy from them. Eventually they were delivered and their installation was completed. Finally, we contacted the company that made the first JetStar interior kits for the Air Force and they kindly duplicated the headrests and our seats were complete.

The rest of the cabin interior was then treated as "theater" and appropriate knick-knacks (including original 1965 air-sickness bags) were put in the cabin. We even acquired a deck of "Aboard The Presidential JetStar" playing cards that President Johnson had ordered and laid them out on a table, to appear as if the President had just departed the aircraft.

Then something VERY interesting happened: while closing the air stair door a chip of white paint flaked off and we found the one-of-a-king Air Force blue paint that indicates Presidential usage. We then had some individuals who had worked on the plane at the 89th SAM Wing at Andrews AFB come by and they confirmed that both President Johnson and Lady Bird used the plane extensively. We will be re-painting the aircraft in Presidential livery and moving it inside a gallery so the cockpit and interior will be available to the public for viewing.

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