Lewis Air Legend’s Lockheed VC-121A Constellation “Bataan”, which served as General MacArthur’s personal aircraft, flew again on 21 June 2023 after an eight-year restoration by Fighter Rebuilders in Chino, California. Footage of the first flight can be viewed on Lewis Air Legend’s Facebook page:
The Lockheed VC-121A Constellation “Bataan” holds a rich history spanning several decades. Originally delivered to the USAF in January 1949 as C-121A 48-613, it played a crucial role in the Berlin Airlift by flying the Westover AFB-Rhein-Main route. In 1950, it underwent conversion to a VC-121A and became the first aircraft of its kind to be equipped with the APS-10 weather radar.
From September 1950 to April 1951, it served as the personal aircraft of General MacArthur, Supreme Commander Allied Powers during the Korean War, and receoved the name “Bataan”. It was also General Ridgeway’s personal aircraft from 1952 to 1953. It was later transferred to HQ, Pacific Air Command as a VIP transport until late 1965, when it was declared surplus by the USAF and flown to Davis-Monthan AFB for storage in January 1966.
In June 1966, NASA acquired the aircraft for use by the Goddard Space Center, stripping its VIP interior and installing instrumentation for the Apollo space program. Its registration was changed to N422NA in June 1969.
Following its retirement from NASA in late 1969, the aircraft found a new home at the US Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker on March 10, 1970. However, it was later declared surplus by the Army and sold to the Planes of Fame Museum on May 7, 1993. The aircraft was made airworthy at Fort Rucker before being ferried to various locations, including Dothan, AL, Addison, TX, Avra Valley, AZ, and Chino, CA.
Eventually, it settled at The Planes of Fame Museum Annex in Valle, AZ, where it was displayed as “Bataan” with its interior restored to its original condition during General MacArthur’s tenure. In April 2015, the aircraft was sold to Lewis Air Legends of San Antonio, Texas, with plans to restore its airworthiness and include it in the US airshow circuit.