Ever since I started photographing at Palm Beach International (PBIA), I have developed an affinity for biz-jets. For those of us that normally fly cattle...I mean....coach (economy, the back of the plane, etc), it can only be a dream to be able to see the inside, let alone fly in one of these dream jets that can transport the few as far as a regular commercial jet can take the rest of us. Recently, I spent a Saturday afternoon at PBIA just shooting biz-jets and, it was a busy afternoon.
Now, to start, there are the higher end biz-jets - old commercial airlines that have converted to luxury transports for those that can afford to own and operate one - some that come to mind are Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban and his Boeing 767-200, Russian billionaire Roman Abromovich and his Boeing 767-300 aptly named "The Bandit" for it's color scheme (search any of the regular aviation photography sites for the registration P4-MES) and of course local entrepreneur Donald Trump with his Boeing 727 shown below (which is apparently up for sale - search Craigslist for VP-BDJ).
The rest of the biz-jets are purposefully built for the task. I will say that I have my favorites. The Bombardier Global Express has to be probably my favorite of all. It is one of the largest biz-jets on the market, but from what I have seen of their performance on take-off, it is probably one of the most powerful as well. Every time I see one of these power off a runway either at PBIA or Ft Lauderdale, I always have to go back and try to find a flight plan to see where that one has departed to. I have seen several power off runway 9L at PBIA in just over 3,000' of runway, and it's flying an overnight flight to London Stanstead - they simply are amazing. This one I caught recently at PBIA. If any of my readers is a GLEX pilot - or knows a GLEX pilot - I'd love to talk about this amazing jet.
For the longest time, the Gulfstream seemed to be the best known biz-jet. They were everywhere and so many of them still fly all over the world, from the G-II to the now G-550 and if my memory serves me, the G-650 is the next variant. This G-IV I shot at PBIA last weekend is a visitor from Canada.
Also from the Bombardier stable is the Challenger series - smaller than the Global Express, but still a very sharp looking biz-jet. They come in the -600 and -300 series - this -300 I shot at PBIA the past Saturday as well. It's a plain white color scheme - but I think it makes it all the more sleeker.
One of the first biz-jets I became interest in many years ago was a South African Air Force Falcon 900 registration ZS-NAN. It was the Presidential aircraft at the time, before the BBJ ZA-RSA came along. I had a friend who was the flight engineer on NAN and they were always off taking the South African President all over the world. The Falcon has also come in a lot of variants - the latest one being the 7X which has the blended winglets and an amazing wingspan when you stand in front of or behind it. This one below is a 900EX that passed through PBIA last weekend - going to Customs after landing and then heading off to some other location.
The last one I'll mention in this blog entry has it's roots in England, the land of my birth. When is came out originally, it was known as the Hawker Siddeley HS-125. These I also used to see a lot in South Africa as they were the executive jet of the South African Air Force. Now, they still carry the same design as the original HS-125 and still carry the Hawker name. The one pictured below is a 800 variant.
I must say, it's been so nice being back behind the camera lens in such lovely fall Florida weather. The shooting season is also getting into it's swing - I saw my first foreign charter of the season a couple of weeks ago - a Thomas Cook Scandinavia A330 at Ft Lauderdale - can't wait to see what the rest of the season holds.