53-7885 VC-121E U.S. Air Force

1954 Delivered to 1254th ATG
1954 Christened “Columbine III”
1961 Assigned to 1254th ATW Andrews
1969 Assigned to 89th MAW (SM) Andrews
1966 Stored Davis Monthan
1966 Retired at Dayton-Wright Patterson
today Exhibit in the Presidential Aircraft Hangar


William G. Draper (June 28, 1920 – November 26, 1964) was a career military officer and Air Force Aide to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

He was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and graduated from Central High School in Washington, D.C. in 1939. He obtained his CAA private and commercial licenses in 1940, and in 1941 received his instructor’s rating at the Wilmington, Delaware airport. In November 1942 he joined the United States Army Air Forces and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He was assigned to Air Transport Command North Atlantic Wing ferrying B-17 Flying Fortress bombers to England and North Africa. He later was assigned to the Air Transport command India-China Division “Fireball Line,” which flew supplies and equipment in the China-Burma-India Theater from Miami to Assam, India.

From 1950 to 1952 he was the personal pilot for General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, and later served as President Eisenhower’s personal pilot and Air Force Aide. Colonel Draper was the pilot of Eisenhower’s Presidential plane “Columbine,” the predecessor of what we now call “Air Force One.”

On November 26, 1964, he committed suicide, reportedly depressed after a heart attack ended his service as a pilot, which he had been continuously since he was 19. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Constellation Details:

Variant: VC-121E/1049B-55-97

Construction Number:4151
Registration Number:53-7885
Photographer / Collection: Zoggavia

Image Number: ZA47168

Photo Date: 1956

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