Get the latest Jimmy Buffett news delivered to your email

Article On Buffett’s Former Pilot

February 6th, 2008

The Palm Beach Post has an article on Jimmy Buffett’s former pilot Randy Leslie, who was let go by Buffett a year and a half ago and died in December: “Did Buffett Botch Jamaica Pilot’s Exit?”

“Randy said to me about a year and a half ago: ‘They’re retiring me!’ He didn’t seem to know why,” said contract pilot Jon Norkus, who also worked for Buffett. “He was disappointed that Jimmy didn’t talk to him about it. It was handled by an underling.

Palm Beacher Jimmy Buffett is accused by several friends of his longtime pilot and party accomplice, Randy Leslie, of turning a blind eye to Leslie’s ouster after 15 years.

Leslie entered Margaritaville lore when the Buffett seaplane he was piloting was fired on by Jamaican police who mistook Leslie and his boss for drug runners. The incident inspired the tune Jamaica Mistaica.

“Randy loved his job, but employers love younger pilots. They work longer hours than we do.”

Leslie had recently started flying again when, on Dec. 6, he died during emergency brain surgery.

Yet, says another friend of Leslie’s, Buffett eventually came through.

“He visited Randy’s widow the morning of the celebration (at DuBois Park in Jupiter) and told her he’d start a trust fund for the education of their son,” said Kelly Bergel.

“Jimmy intentionally didn’t attend anything that was public because he didn’t want the focus on him. He didn’t want to draw any attention away from Randy.

“When he left Jimmy’s employ, Randy was taken care of. He got a nice pension and got paid for six months. I never heard Randy talk ill of Jimmy. He was a fan as much as his employee, and we played Jimmy’s music during the celebration.

“Believe me, working for a celebrity isn’t all it’s made out to be. You miss a lot of birthdays.”

Someone in Leslie’s entourage who declined to be named said Buffett told the widow, Terri, he now wishes he had handled the firing differently.

Read the entire article here.

Also, learn more about Buffett’s seaplane here and about the Jamaica Mistaica incident here.

Tagged in Aviation, In The News, Personal/Family