Golf Legend Says Goodbye to the Cockpit

Business Jet Traveler » April 2011
Arnold Palmer
Friday, April 1, 2011 - 5:00am

Arnold Palmer, who appeared on the February/March 2010 cover of BJT, took what he said would be his last flight as a pilot on January 31 when he flew his Cessna Citation X from Palm Springs, Calif., to his home in Orlando, Fla. Palmer, 81, flew for almost 55 years and logged more than 20,000 hours in the cockpit.

He has owned 10 airplanes, progressing from his first, a 1961 Aero Commander 500, to his current Citation X, which he bought in 2002. In 1969, he piloted a Boeing 747 before the airplane went into commercial service. In 1976, he set a round-the-world speed record that still stands. Taking off from Denver in a Learjet 36, Palmer circumnavigated the globe in 57 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds with stops in Boston, Paris, Tehran, Sri Lanka, Jakarta, Manila, Wake Island and Honolulu.

Today Palmer is a passionate champion of business aviation, appearing in print and Web ads for the National Business Aviation Association's "No Plane, No Gain" advocacy campaign.

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“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”

-Howard Guy of Design Q, a UK-based consultancy