Turbine Edition: Acquisitions

The best of everything

October 1, 2008

For the guy who has everything

OK, Father’s Day rolled around again and you, once again, committed the buy-him-a-tie copout. Now nears a landmark birthday. Please tell us you have a creative gift-giving bone somewhere in your body. No? Well, here’s your lifeline— Cloud 9 Living. How about a Grand Canyon VIP tour ($2,100), sportfishing in Alaska ($3,200), an air combat mission ($790), fighter pilot for a day ($1,195), diving with Great White sharks ($3,100), three days at an ESPN golf school ($1,995), three-day formula racing school ($2,995), or a game of intrigue and role playing in Washington, D.C. ($50,000)? Purchase is simple—buy an opened-ended gift card and your recipient goes online to choose whatever experience is covered by the value of the card. The gift card is presented in a custom-made blue box with a personalized message card and a DVD with video footage of the available experiences. Cloud 9 offers more than 1,700 experiences in 41 different cities—so you can finally live down that chartreuse tie from Pink (just because it’s expensive doesn’t make it right).

Meals on wheels

Need to feed those onboard when flying from Duluth to Detroit? An online catering directory is available offering links to more than 500 member catering organizations offering options from local specialists to specialists with specialties—how about “Hottie Chefs,” “Picnic in the Air,” “Meals on Heels,” or Micah, the Wandering Chef, who recently appeared as one of the contestants on Bravo’s Top Chef television program? Jet-chef.com is a directory for private jet owners, passengers, operators, flight attendants, FBOs, and flight coordinators who need in-flight catering and services. The find-it-fast directory includes hundreds of locations and catering services with links to Web sites in locations all over North America and sample menus of in-flight cuisine.

Fly-n-soak

“Where the pavement ends and the West begins” is the motto of Surprise Valley, California. Bordered by the majestic Warner Mountains and Nevada’s Hays Range, this area in the high desert valley was called the “smiles of God” by the Native Americans who first lived here. Surprise Valley Hot Springs is an all-villa resort that features private outdoor hot tubs fed by cascading waterfalls of artesian mineral water in each room. You can enjoy the hot springs by flying into the 4,415-foot paved, lighted runway at Cedarville Airport (059) where a private vehicle for your use awaits with directions to the resort. Stay in the deluxe “Pilot” villa decorated in an aviator’s dream theme and featuring a feather bed with down pillows.

Hangar candy

Let’s play a game. Match a car to your (non-automotive) interest: Polo player? Easy, buy a Range Rover. Remodeling the wine cellar in that Tuscan villa you just bought? Ferrari. Offshore powerboat racer? Lamborghini. Pilot and aviation enthusiast? Spyker. What’s Spyker? Two things actually. It means “nail” in Dutch and it means incredibly fast aviation-inspired supercar—also in Dutch. The Spyker C8 Aileron (yes, aileron) is powered by an Audi-made 4.2 litre V8 that delivers 400 bhp and 354 pounds/feet of torque, capable of propelling the car just north of the 185 mph mark. The fast and luxuriously appointed Spyker should make that next trip to the airport an exciting one. And once there, the limited production and $312,000 price tag should ensure that the guy in the hangar next to you doesn’t show up in one too.— Chris Rose

Pack the clubs

Scottsdale Airpark (SDL), with its 8,249-foot runway, full-service amenities, and general aviation-welcoming atmosphere, is the gateway to many area golf hot spots, not the least of which is The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa. Set amidst towering ancient boulder formations in the Sonoran Desert, the scenery is thrilling. But for the golfer, the two championship-level Jay Morrish-designed courses, rated in the “Top 100” golf courses in the world by GOLF Magazine, are reason to pack the clubs. The North Course offers a 6,811-yard, Par 72 course, and the South Course is a 6,726-yard, Par 71 course. Oh, and there’s a 33,000-square-foot spa with 24 treatment rooms and a Hopi Indian-inspired labyrinth on site too.

All about the view

The purple mountain’s majesty that Katharine Lee Bates wrote of in “America the Beautiful” sits right outside the windows of The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At the base of Cheyenne Mountain (home of NORAD) and under Pikes Peak (Bates’ “purple mountain”) along the Rocky Mountains, the Broadmoor is one of the original gambling casinos in the West. This elegant resort was later developed by Spencer and Julie Penrose of Philadelphia in 1918, who envisioned a European-style hotel in the Rockies. Today it boasts three championship golf courses, nine tennis courts, an 11,000-square-foot pool with waterslides, 11 restaurants, and a 90,000-square-foot spa replete with a $100,000 computerized shower with 18 showerheads. But it is the natural beauty of the resort that is most appealing—enjoy a cocktail outside under the mountain’s majesty while hummingbirds feast in the local flora. Convenient to the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS) with its three accessible runways (8,269 feet, 13,500 feet, and 11,022 feet), The Broadmoor is the longest running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five-Diamond and Mobil Travel Guide Five-Star awards.

Oh, the ways you can fly!

The dawn of personal aviation is upon us. We may not be Jetson-ing around the skies in our own mini spaceships nor sky driving like Bruce Willis in the movie The Fifth Element, but our options to fly sans airlines are changing.

This is not your grandfather’s air travel.

Charter —if you travel less than 25 hours per year, chartering is your best option. A variety of aircraft can be chartered—usually by the hour—based on the number of people traveling and the distance to be traveled. You fly where you want, when you want, in the aircraft you want, and with the amenities you chose yourself.

Flight cards or Jet cards—Pay-as-you-go programs offer the ability to plan your flight just like you would anything else you want to purchase—with a credit or debit card. Typically you deposit a set amount with the firm and then use it for flight time.

Blue Star Jets. Customers place deposits of $50,000 to $1 million from which flight costs are deducted. Jets range from the Beechjet 400A ($2,300 per hour) to a Boeing Business Jet ($11,000 per hour).

JetNetwork. Charges are deducted from deposits of $100,000 to $500,000. Access to some 100 jets including the 19-passenger Bombardier Global Express ($7,850 per hour).

Marquis Jet. Offers cards in 25-hour increments and is affiliated with fractional provider NetJets. Nine jet types are available including a Citation V Ultra ($120,000 for 25 hours).

OneSky Jets. All-inclusive hourly rate accessed with an online tool that gives options for nearly 1,500 private jets with no up-front capital outlay.

Skyjet. Offered by Bombardier Flexjet, flight hours are available in the fleet of Learjet and Challenger aircraft. The cards are available in 25-, 50-, and 100-hour increments.

Vector JetCard. Enables individuals and companies to gain access to CitationShares' fleet of Cessna Citation aircraft with a fully refundable $100,000 minimum purchase.

Fractional ownership —This is the timeshare equivalent in personal air travel. You are purchasing a partial interest in an aircraft that is operated by an aviation company as part of its fleet. As an owner, you have the right to use any comparable aircraft in the fleet, on demand, for a predetermined number of hours each year. Owners purchase anywhere from a one-sixteenth share to half an airplane and chip in accordingly for maintenance.

Jet sharing—As a group or as part of a group—known or unknown to you—you can purchase a round trip charter “by the seat.” An annual membership fee and per-leg cost get you your seat. Or just buy that new “insert jet name here” you’ve had your eye on...

Cooler than cool

Take the aviation theme in your hangar, office, or home one step further by emblazoning your airplane’s likeness on a soda machine. And not just any soda machine. American Soda Machines of Denver will put your baby’s photo (or corporate logo if you’d prefer) on one of its “beverage icons”—vintage machines that have been “re-made to order,” as ASM likes to say. And these are the real deals—no coolers or freezers masquerading as pop machines. While ASM offers several makes and models of vending machines with sliders, round tops, and square tops, it suggests that the square-top Vendo 63 (from the 1960s ) produces the best custom canvas. The Vendo 63 stands 53 inches high by 27.5 inches wide and can be made to dispense bottles or cans. Prices start at $2,695.— Jill W. Tallman

Wrist Envy

Pilots, with their penchant for timeliness and accuracy, are watch aficionados. In fact, some of the top-selling fine watches are labeled “Pilot” watches.

The International Watch Company (IWC) first developed a pilot’s watch in 1936. The traditional pocket watches then used to measure time were cumbersome for early aviation pioneers. Since pilots needed to track their flight time and fuel consumption, IWC designed the pocket watch to fit on the pilot’s wrist over his flight suit. The first version was massive, with a 55 mm face—2.16 inches in diameter, about the size of the bottom of a Styrofoam cup. It was attached to the pilot’s wrist by a long leather strap. Today IWC makes the “Big Pilot Watch,” but its face is just 46.2 mm—1.81 inches—still pretty, well, big. IWC also makes the “Top Gun,” which was introduced in 1948 and did service with the Royal Air Force.

What’s the only watch ever worn on the moon? The Omega Speedmaster Pro was one of five chronographs—a timepiece or watch with both timekeeping and stopwatch functions—purchased by NASA in 1965. The five different timepieces were abused under extreme environmental conditions in a competition to see which one would join the Space Program. The Speedmaster made it to the final three along with a Rolex and Longines Wittnauer. The Rolex couldn’t pass the humidity tests and the Longines Wittnauer’s crystal warped in the high temperature test. Omega did not learn that its watch went to the moon until astronaut Edward White became the first American to walk in space—wearing his Omega Speedmaster outside his suit.

The rich and storied history of fine watchmaking is reflected in the Tutima line. A center for fine watchmaking was established in Glashütte, Germany, in the late 1800s. But with the advent of World War I, the market for expensive, precision watches collapsed. Dr. Ernst Kurtz organized a group of the Glashütte companies in 1926 and, working together, developed and produced watch movements, called ebauche, for wristwatches. Tutima (from the Latin “tutus,” which translates as “safe” or “protected”) was the name given to the top models. During World War II, pilots of the German Luftwaffe wore Tutima’s “Flieger Chronograph,” which had begun production in 1941. On May 8, 1945, Russian bombers destroyed Glashütte, just hours before the cease-fire. Only 30,000 of the watches had been produced; these originals are now collector’s items. But Kurtz had left the day before the bombings. He relocated the company in southern Germany and then to Lower Saxony where the company is located today. The company continues to produce the Tutima Flieger Chronograph Replica as well as other models such as the Tutima Military Air Force Chronograph T.

Switzerland’s Breitling created the quintessential pilot watch in 1952. Breitling’s Navitimer features an E6-B computer capable of handling all calculations for a flight plan—essentially it is a circular slide rule on the rotating bezel of the chronograph. It has a large face at 46 mm (1.88 inches) and was endorsed back in the day as the official watch of AOPA. A Breitling watch also was a part of the U.S. Space Program—Breitling’s Cosmonaute was worn by astronaut Scott Carpenter on the Aurora 7 space flight.

Julie Summers Walker

Julie Summers Walker | AOPA Director of Publications, Managing Editor for 'AOPA Pilot' and 'Flight Training'

AOPA Director of Publications and Managing Editor for AOPA Pilot and Flight Training, Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.