Buffett Looking At New Seaplane

March 23rd, 2009

The February ’09 issue of Air International magazine discusses a North Carolina company’s plans to resurrect the Grumman Goose seaplane (pictured right), and according to the article they say that Jimmy Buffett is interested:

“V.L. Manual [owner of the company] now has strong interest from buyers in 20 different countries worldwide, including the possibility of a new “retro” Goose for country music legend Jimmy Buffett, which may have original Pratt & Whitney (P&W) radials instead of the turboprops. A highly-specialized military version of the Goose is also being developed by Antilles for potential use by US Special Forces.”

Antilles Seaplanes LLC expects to have the first new-production plane completed in June of this year. The Super Goose will have modern engines, modern electronics, and a number of other upgrades over the original Goose. Airframes will be of new manufacturer, rather then rebuilt.

The Goose is a bit smaller than Jimmy’s Albatross but also a bit larger than the Widgeon that he crashed in 1994. Originally designed in the 1930’s the Goose ended production in 1945 with 345 examples being built originally. Roughly 60 are airworthy today. Antilles sees a potential market for 200 new-built Gooses (not “Geese!”).

(hat tip to Pirate John for passing this along)

See photos of Jimmy’s airplanes here.

Tagged in Aviation

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