Her OWN Plane
In today’s celebrity worship and Hollywood tabloid culture, adoring fans often cross the line, intruding the personal space of celebrities. One of the best ways for a picture to go viral or get thousands of likes, is to post a selfie with a celebrity. Often times, celebrities simply want to make it to their next destination, peacefully and refreshed. However, the general public has always been unable to differentiate between actors and the characters they portray. When the actor Robert Young, would be seen in public, fans of his legendary show, Dr. Welby M.D. would express recent illnesses and pains. When he responded that he couldn’t help them, he would be met with, “But you’re Dr. Welby, I watch your show every week.” His response would be legendary, “I’m not really a doctor, I just play one on T.V.”.
In the late 1990’s Oprah Winfrey encountered a fan that she considered rude. Given Oprah’s hectic and demanding schedule, the talk show queen simply wanted to travel in peace. What the fan perhaps expected was Oprah’s congenial, charismatic, and therapeutic persona that has endeared her to audiences for decades. What she experienced instead was a woman that simply needed to reach her next destination refreshed and collective. “You’re not acting like you do on television hugging everybody”, the fellow traveler stated. Much of Oprah’s time during her career has been spent in front of the camera, not to mention the behind the scenes and off camera moves necessary to build, manage, and maintain her billion dollar empire. A few years ago, she left day time talk to launch her very own network, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Simply put, the media mogul needed her space. Oprah needed an Oprah of her own. Owing to her being a class act, Oprah didn’t become confrontational with the fan as some celebrities would have.
In 2008, supermodel Naomi Campbell was removed from a British Airways flight after becoming verbally abusive with the crew and staff, culminating with her being arrested for throwing a cell phone and spitting at police officers. She was banned for five years. Rapper Snoop Dog and his entourage were once arrested at Heathrow Airport in London while engaging in a brawl after they were denied entrance into a VIP lounge. Ivana Trump became irate at children on the plane and used profanity towards them, after which she charged the cockpit and had to be forcibly removed from the flight. Justin Beiber has had multiple run-ins at airports and on flights. Many other celebrities have had well noted meltdowns in airports or onboard flights. However, Oprah managed to steer clear of negative publicity which is not in consistency with her public image. Her solution was simply to buy her own luxury private jet.
There are four main reasons why celebrities buy their own jets: privacy, speed, flexibility, and most importantly luxury. The common denominator in most celebrity meltdowns while at the airport or on a commercial was that had they had their own privacy, the incidents would have been avoidable. Sometimes celebrities have sporadic schedules where the may have be at a distant location, say an overseas performance. Booking a private flight may be difficult. The solution is to buy your own. Because of the often need for flexibility, speed is what you need. To get you where you need to be, when you need to be. However, the ultimate factor in deciding to purchase one’s own plane is luxury. For Oprah, that only meant a measly $70,000,000.
Oprah told a reporter in Great Britain that owning a jet grants her the privacy and convenience that she needed. Oprah’s recent luxury jet is not the first that she’s owned. In a 2009 commencement speech to Duke University graduating students, she revealed that owning her own luxury jets was one of her greatest accomplishments. During the economic crisis of 2008, coupled with astronomical fuel prices, the luxury jet industry took a severe hit. However, Oprah decided to purchase a Bombardier Aerospace Global Express XRS for a recorded $42 million. At the time, it was clearly a buyer’s market as luxury jet brokers scrambled to interest customers to purchase jets when air travel was at an all time low. Oprah now owns a customized Gulfstream G650, in which she reportedly paid $70 million.
The twin Rolls-Royce BR725 AI-12 engines Gulfstream G650, built by Gulfstream Aerospace is considered to be the pinnacle of luxury private jets. It can be custom designed to accommodate up to 18 passengers. With a cruising speed of 561 mph, it is capable flying more than 92 percent of the speed of sound for thousands of miles. Given Oprah’s demanding schedule, such a precision performance jet has to be capable of going from Chicago, to New York, to Los Angeles in a relatively short time. Oprah’s jet as a max operating speed of .925, nearly Mach 1. Speed is what you need once you’ve arrived at billionaire status. With a cruising altitude of 51000 feet, and a range of 7000 miles non-stop, it passengers are sure to arrive at their destination fully recharged. That altitude capability is more than twice as low as commercial airlines. Flying at lower cabin altitudes means the heart and lungs don’t work as hard to oxygenate the blood, which reduces fatigue and ensures that upon arrival, passengers are better refreshed. The luxury aircraft even has custom leather beds and recliners. The G650 is the by far the best luxury jet that Gulfstream has ever built.
Given Oprah’s recent launching of her own network, her philanthropic endeavors, being a major voice during Barack Obama’s campaign and presidency, hosting various shows, not to mention being a major backbone for Hollywood heavyweights such as Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels, the G650 is more than capable to handle her high business demands. The aircraft has multiple internet options, two multichannel satellite communications systems or a wireless local network that provides onboard printing and phone service. The Gulfstream Cabin Management System (GCMS) synchronizes with Apple iOS smartphones and tablets to provide touch-screen control for temperature, lighting, window shades and entertainment options. Apple iPod touches or Google Android devices are provided as cabin controls. In short, Oprah can run her entire empire from the sky. Of course the G560 boasts of state of the art avionics, engines, aerodynamics, but what sold the aircraft to Oprah was luxury, a mansion and retreat spa in the sky.