Historic Lockheed JetStar Returns Home after 55 years

Nov. 12, 2021

Nov. 11—A historic Lockheed aircraft was returned home this week, finding its final resting place at Marietta's Aviation History and Technology Center.

The JetStar plane was hauled through the streets of Cobb County during Monday's early hours — in the dead of night, so as to ensure a clear path for its 54-foot wingspan.

Over 200 of the aircraft were built at Lockheed's Marietta plant, and it served as one of the first business jets when it debuted in the 1960s.

The plane was first designed for U.S. Air Force purposes, but that contract was dropped due to budget cuts, according to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Lockheed nevertheless continued with production of the model and outfitted it with four Pratt & Whitney engines.

The plane, which returned to Marietta, was built in 1966 and first delivered to the R.J. Reynolds Company (the tobacco giant), according to Brad Hawkins of the Aviation History and Technology Center. It was also once in use by the Saudi royal family, and is believed to have been one of the last JetStars still flying when it was retired.

Other JetStars were used by dignitaries including Air Force heads and President Lyndon Johnson.

The plane first arrived back in Cobb County in 2019, flying into Kennesaw's McCollum Field on its final voyage. The plane was donated by a Florida family who used the aircraft for some three decades.

"We were able to preserve a piece of art," pilot John Poffenbarger, the family's chauffeur in the sky for 21 years, told the MDJ at the time. "This aircraft probably has more photos snapped of it than any other aircraft in the world."

"She's a crotchety old lady, she's 53 years old, but she flew up here today just fine," he added.

The museum had originally planned to have the plane transported over and on display within a matter of months, but that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest addition to the museum's collection will join another JetStar it already owns, which was the 48th to come off Lockheed's assembly line and was once owned by the late musician, Kenny Rogers.


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