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Concert Date: February 18, 1977. Columbia, SC.

Not At Airport - Mystery Veils Elvis' Arrival
By Frank Zupan
Columbia Record
February 18, 1977

A few dozen fans and members of the press were waiting at Columbian Metropolitan Airport today, but the superstar himself evaded all who had come to catch a glimpse of him.

Elvis Presley, who performs at Carolina Coliseum tonight, was expected to arrive about noon. A plane landed and unloaded, but no one saw Elvis.

The chief of the airport security arrived about 40 minutes before the 42-year-old, swiveled-hipped singer was to land.

A MEMBER of the advance crew said that a bus parked at the end of the runaway was to transport Elvis to a hotel.

When the maroon and white plane landed about noon, about a dozen fans were on hand to greet it.

A television crew and other members of the press were allowed to go out to the field but the fans, many of them with cameras, were forced to stay behind the fence with their view of airplane door blocked.

A number of people got off the plane and the baggage was transferred to the bus while the press waited behind an "imaginary" line for a glimpse of Presley.

The Columbia policemen who were driving the gold Lincoln Continental, drove away, but the superstar wasn't in it.

The other cars and eventually the fans, left also.

One of the airport policemen said that the elusive singer was in fact already on the bus and gone, but a TV newsman said that Elvis must have been in disguise.

RUMORS PERSISTED around the airport that Elvis would arrive later on another airplane and the maroon and white aircraft was just a decoy.

The air of mystery surrounding Elvis's arrival continued after his entourage left the airport.

An Eagle Aviation employer said she had been told his plane is due around 7 pm and a fan who spoke to a crew member said she was told Elvis was following in a second airplane .

Earlier today, Elvis' car was parked at the side door of Sheraton Columbia Inn but the king was nowhere to sight.

Three Columbia policemen assigned to the Presley entourage and the superstar's advance people breakfasted in the hotel coffee shop.

A clerk at the front desk said a broken fuel line had temporarily stranded Elvis' plane in Savannah, GA, and that he was to arrive this afternoon for an 8:30 engagement tonight at the Carolina Coliseum.

A WAITRESS upstairs at the hotel said, "I overheard them talking about it while serving their table," she said "I offered to go down and pick him up, but they didn't think it was very funny."

Investigator C. S. "Sonny" Young who was assigned to the advance crew, at first told a reporter that the police were guarding a sequestered jury in a shooting case on the second floor.

"You got the story all wrong," he said when asked about Elvis.

The policemen assigned to the group wore business suits with postage stamp-sized yellow lapel buttons, reading "S-4".

The rest of Elvis' group was dressed casually, some of them in jeans and T-shirts.

About 2:30 am the policemen and a group of the advance people left the Sheraton in the gold Lincoln Continental parked by the side door and several other cars.

THE LINCOLN bore dealers plate from Wilson Motors in Columbia.

The group drove to Eagle Aviation at Columbia Metropolitan Airport where President Gerald Ford and then candidate Jimmy Carter landed last fall when they came to Columbia on the campaign trail.

The story from Investigator Young and Eagles' lounge was that advance people and that he didn't know when Elvis was coming in.

"That's the gospel truth," he said. When asked why the police were still there, Young shrugged his shoulders, smiled slightly and walked away.

Around 11:15 am Elvis crew' was talking openly about his plane landing around noon.

"When Elvis' plane lands, you be sure and get his wardrobe off," an older man in the group told a younger man.

During the course of the morning several men were referred to as Col. Tom Parker, Elvis' manager, but at the airport one of the men who was addressed as Parker said that Parker would be landing with Elvis.

TRUE BLUE Elvis fans who failed to get tickets when they went on sale a number of weeks ago have only one way to get them today.

About a dozen classified ads in the local newspapers offered the tickets, usually with no price given.

The tickets for the sell-out originally sold for $10, $12.50 and $15. Scalpers tickets were rumored to be going for $25, with some reports of ticket sales for as much as $100.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez