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Playing Nick to The Great Gatsby
Old 06-02-2008, 08:47 PM   #1
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Playing Nick to The Great Gatsby

On April 14th I wrote a post called "Looking Rich". The post was about a trip I was about to take with one of the richest men in the world. Sometime in the 1980's he sold his company for $10 billion dollars. God knows what that is worth now. Anyway, the flight was to be on his private jet. I also said I was going to try and have some fun with a buddy when he inevitably asked me about the discomfort of flying, he not knowing how I was going. Well, I didn't run into the buddy before the flight but I still have a shot at him now that I am back.

A few points from the trip...

This was no mere private jet, like say, a Gulfstream. This was a private jetliner completely remodeled with a custom exterior paint scheme. There was also a private bedroom with bath, kitchen, fore and aft seating areas with couches, and huge overstuffed swivel chairs.

Breakfast was a choice of three kinds of omelettes, fruit, juice, coffee, pastries, cheese plates etc. Also, the major newspapers and magazines laid out.

Five man crew. Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and two stewardess. There was only five of us.

Only flight I was ever on where the door to the cockpit was left open. I wandered in, sat down and talked to the flight crew.

The avionics had been updated and it was a real hotrod. I noticed once we were going over 600 miles per hour.

I asked if I could take a snapshot and was told, "Take all the pictures you want", so I took a few.

When we landed at our first stop we were at an airport with no airline service. The last time I flew in I had to drive a hundred miles to get to this town.

We took a limousine to our destination for our three day meetings.

We stayed at a hotel downtown and the plane crew stayed at a different hotel near the airport. However, they were a cell phone call away. If we wanted, the owner could have picked up the phone and said, "We are going to... Brazil, Paris, Cairo..." anywhere.

The last day we had an evening party and the crew was invited out to join us. I spent some time with the crew and asked them, "Is this a dream job?". I wasn't sure because someone had told me that a top pilot might want to fly more advanced modern aircraft. But what the pilot said was, "This plane is more fun to fly, all the newer stuff is auto-pilot driven, not much fun to fly." I'm not a pilot so I don't know, but this sounded right.

One other thing. I had a good long time to interact with the billionaire. He was definitely a little eccentric but not at all pretentious. It was clear that he had had great wealth for decades. Presidential candidates were at his house, regularly, and always have been.

The money brought comfort and convenience. If it saved him time and hassle he spent the money, no matter how much. But when it came to personal stuff... he wore a $30 watch, "I always have, don't care about that stuff." He carried a $100 briefcase and his sport coat looked like that of a somewhat rumpled professor, with the lining slightly protruding at the back.

Quirky, outspoken, a little irascible, but not rude, dominating or overbearing, my host was altogether that rare individual, rich but with enough class to somehow pull it all off and leave a good impression.

After our meetings I was scheduled to fly with just the host to New York. That was a story in itself. I then turned back into a pumpkin and spent a week exploring Manhattan at a less exalted level.

There is more, but that is a snapshot of the first week of my trip. The rest will have to wait.

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Old 06-03-2008, 06:40 AM   #2
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boont nice story. You had me reading the whole thing. I can't wait for more.
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Old 06-03-2008, 06:48 AM   #3
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This is fun to read-thank you. Can't wait for some more. A glimpse into another world that I will never experience.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:08 AM   #4
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Good story. Not many experience such a trip. I would have been nervous as heck. Would be interesting to know who the billionaire is............hmmmmmm I'm fishing, but I know you can't tell.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:28 AM   #5
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boont... You forgot to tell me if he is single! If his last name starts with a P... I know he's not.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:39 AM   #6
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Great story ! Thanks for the update !
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:35 PM   #7
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"tell me if he is single!" Connie

Like a lot of very wealthy men he has more than one wife and family.

Not often talked about but very common in America. Warren Buffet, Henry Ford, Charles Kuralt, H.L. Hunt, and tons of others through out history.
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Straight Up
Old 06-04-2008, 01:46 PM   #8
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Straight Up

"I would have been nervous as heck", dawg

When I first boarded, the host wasn't there. I asked where I could sit. The stewardess said, "Anywhere except in that chair, that's where Mr. X sits."

So I took a seat on one of the couches. In a few minutes, Mr. X walked in, gave a general hello and immediately sat down on the couch across from me. "That chair", sat empty.

I got a nod from him, doors started slamming, the plane started moving, the engines kicked in and we lifted off like a rocket ship.

The pilot later told me, "Without the weight of a bunch of passengers, that you would normally have, it just shoots almost straight up."
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:45 PM   #9
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In the early 80's we flew on a megacorp liner and it was set up about the same. When I got to sit in the jump seat behind the pilot, it too was thrilling. But when we landed on a strip near the guard at Chicago, they watched a guard jet take off and strained looking out the forward windows, and were gaga wishing they were flying that hotrod, talking about how may G's he was pulling. Later we neared our destination, and while having lunch, the plane was going thru rough weather. This is the only time I have been on a plain in turbulence, and I thought it was like a carnival ride. No problemo. After landing in Evansvill, In. we found out that they were in a tornado watch area. Now I am scared.
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