Printed 2017/08/21 02:57AM

Buying A Plane

By Andy Warren, 2009/03/31

There's been a lot of bad press about 'corporate jets' in the news over the past year. Not that planes themselves have issues, but rather many questions about whether corporations are spending shareholder dollars appropriately. It's not a simple topic, but clearly there did seem to be a lack of awareness about how those kinds of things would be perceived in difficult financial times.

I bring this up not because I've decided to add politics and economics to my blog subjects but because for a few years Steve, Brian, and myself have talked about how nice it would be to have a plane of our own. We travel a lot and we spend a lot of time waiting on the plane, waiting on luggage, not to mention the all too common delays that add time to an already painful progress. Given that many corporations are scaling back on planes this seemed like a good time to take a look at our options.

My first thought was fractional ownership using NetJets, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett). It's not cheap and you have to buy blocks of time, but it would work and was probably the most realistic solution. On the other hand, Brian was looking at the Gulfstream G550 and if you visit their site to look at the specs and interiors, it's easy to see why if you're buying a plane this one should be on the short list. But at a selling price of $50 million and up (yeah, million) it's considerably more than we can afford! Steve found the King Air 350 turbo prop which also looks very nice, but only has a range of about 1500 miles - not what we need for our frequent trips to Seattle.

Of course, it's not just the plane. You've got to figure out something about a pilot/co-pilot, hangar space, and maintenance. And you've got to find someone to help make decisions about the paint job (do overs are expensive!) and the interior design, and get a solution for internet connectivity so that the flight time i as productive as possible.

We haven't decided yet, but so far our best/most realistic option is something not quite as common. We're currently looking at a Learjet 60. We'd have to go with the rather spartan interior and probably just add our logos instead of a full paint job, but it would fit into our budget, maintenance costs are as close to zero as you can get, and it's small enough that space to store it wouldn't be a major cost. It's not quite our dream plane, but this Learjet 60 fits within our budget and we'll finally have our own plane.

You didn't think I would let April Fools day go by unnoticed did you? We're still flying coach!

I'll let you be the judge of how I did, but it's not easy to come up with something subtle enough to get people to buy in to something bizarre. I've never cared for the ones that seem to go on forever until you hit the punchline either, so I tried to combine real life with an interesting but unlikely dream for most of us, and then throw in few relevant but distracting details. My other post today is a "real" post, but after I wrote it I knew it wasn't really a good blog post for a guy who focuses on thoughtful writing. On the other hand, I hated to pass up the chance to comment on something interesting from a business-niche perspective and just bizarre besides, so it's been waiting on today to come for months.

Hope you smiled, and tomorrow we'll get back to moderately serious topics.

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