Elvis Presley ruled the music charts, the stage and the screen, so it’s only appropriate that he ruled the skies, too.
Forty years ago this month, Elvis took off in his own custom private jet for the first time. The Lisa Marie, which he nicknamed his “Flying Graceland,” took Elvis to concerts and family vacations, all in incredible rock ‘n’ roll style. These days, plenty of celebrities have their own jets. But Elvis proved you could travel in style with his beautifully decorated Lisa Marie.
In April 1975, Elvis purchased a Convair 880 jet, taken out of service by Delta, for $250,000. He named the plane after his daughter, Lisa Marie.
Elvis spent more than $800,000 on remodeling the plane from an ordinary plane to a rock star’s private jet, complete with two half-baths, a lounge area, a conference room, sitting room (which could be turned into a guest bedroom) and a master bedroom.
The plane is gorgeously decorated with lush blues, greens and gold. The Lisa Marie features gold-plated belt buckles and accessories, suede sofas, leather-topped tables, a quadraphonic 8-track stereo system, a sky-to-ground phone system and more.
The tail features an American flag and Elvis’ famous TCB – “taking care of business in a flash” – logo. He also had the registration number changed to N880EP, and sometimes called it “The Pride of Elvis Presley Airways.”
Elvis’ first flight on the Lisa Marie was on November 27, 1975, to Las Vegas. He had two weeks’ worth of concerts to perform there.
One of the most memorable trips Elvis made on the Lisa Marie was with the plane’s namesake. He realized that Lisa Marie had never experienced a winter with real snow – Memphis rarely sees snow – so he flew his daughter to Denver, Colorado on the Lisa Marie. The two played in the snow and returned to Graceland soon after.
Elvis dreamed of having his own fleet; he purchased five planes over the years. Another of his planes, a 1960 Lockheed Jetstar, which he named the Hound Dog II (the Lisa Marie is Hound Dog I), is also at Graceland and open for tours.
The Lisa Marie went on display at Graceland in 1984. It arrived to its destination with much fanfare: the media and fans lined up to watch as the plane was brought down Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Like Graceland itself, the Lisa Marie is a “must-see” for every Elvis fan. Come to Memphis to see Elvis’ Graceland and Flying Graceland!