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Nearly 40 years have passed since that fateful day when the world heard the news of the passing of King of Rock & Roll - Elvis Presley. Ron Strauss was a member of the flight
crew who flew Elvis and his entourage coast to coast on the Convair 880 jet, christened the “Lisa Marie,” from 1975 until shortly after his death on August 16, 1977.
Ron Strauss, Elvis Presley's airplane pilot will be visiting the Fonda Arts Center on July 17 at 7 p.m. where he will share stories of this “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The flight crew was on call 24 hours a day. Because of his fame and for security reasons, Elvis rarely traveled in daylight. “He was a very nice guy, a very smart man. And he had
unbelievable charisma,” recalls Stauss.
"Flying Graceland" is what Elvis often called his customised 4 engined passenger jet, which was refurbished by the same team that did the interior design for Air Force One. When
the jet was in service, Elvis was performing shows in Las Vegas and touring around the USA. Flying for Elvis often demanded Strauss to make several late night flights, even a flight
to Denver for deluxe peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. While staying in Memphis, Strauss, the Fonda native, even purchased a 73' Corvette Stingray, which was the only Corvette
in Elvis' funeral procession.
Strauss, a native of Fonda, Iowa, holds an airline transport pilot certificate and has flown aircraft ranging from gliders and biplanes to Lear jets and 767s. He served in the Air
Force as a B-47 mechanic, became a flight engineer on the C-141 and flew more than 130 combat support missions in Southeast Asia. As a civilian pilot, Strauss has flown CV-880,
CV-880M and CV-990, is typed in the Lear, 727, 757 / 767 and DC-8 and has flown and owned many small aircraft. He retired from the airlines with 30,000 hours.
|FLYING THE KING
July 16, 2015 / CHAD PRIBYL / Pilot-Tribune Staff