President Obama had barely concluded his June 29 press conference when my e-mail box began filling up with responses from the general-aviation industry. The NBAA expressed “dismay” and announced that it was sending a “strongly worded” letter to the President about his remarks, which it said “reflect a total lack of understanding” of the field.
As part of an industry still struggling to recover from a recession and continuing attacks by the media and politicians alike, I was appalled by President Obama’s press conference Wednesday in which he used his bully pulpit to vilify corporate-jet owners. Not surprised. But appalled.
Prominent U.S. defense programs are feeling pressure from more than just Congress and Pentagon cost police. Before and during the Paris Air Show, Boeing’s KC-46A tanker and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II faced flak from the aviation press and, in the latter case, an ally’s speech.
As I flew home amid the screaming babies in the back of a packed 767 from Charles de Gaulle Airport to New York’s JFK, something struck me as different about this Paris Air Show, apart from the exceptional number of orders and so-called commitments the world’s civil aircraft manufacturers had managed to collect for broadcast at Le Bourget.
The McDonnell Douglas A-12 Avenger II’s radical, wedge-shaped design still looks exotic, even in the 20 years since the program was cancelled after an outlay of billions of dollars that failed to produce even one real airplane. The proposed Navy attack bomber has fascinated me ever since the first time I saw an artist’s rendering of it.
Here we are, 41,000 feet in the air, sailing along at a little more than 476 knots and a little more than halfway from Morristown, N.J., to the Paris Air Show. We’ve got a biofuel blend of Honeywell’s finest and jet-A feeding engine one and straight jet-A in the other. The G450’s Rolls-Royce engines appear to be perfectly happy on a diet of either, and the flight is as smooth as a glass-top table.
A pink golf shirt. I understand companies want to curry the attention of journalists, but at some stage you reach the point of diminishing returns.
Later this morning I’ll hop on a train for my biennial pilgrimage to the Paris Air Show. Thanks to the tunnel beneath the Channel connecting the UK to the mainland of Europe, and the speedy Eurostar train, it is not a long or arduous journey–not least because it no longer involves having to endure one of London’s accursed airports.
One result of our Netflix subscription is that my wife and I are watching many films that we probably would have missed. Two such films are Michael Ferguson’s “Inside Job,” which won the Academy Award for best documentary last year, and Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” with Michael Douglas reprising his role as Gordon Gekko from 1987’s “Wall Street,” also directed by Stone.
Most of the time, business aviation makes air travel painless and trouble-free. That’s what you’re paying for and that’s why you love it.