Chapter 18

And in the Corporate Aircraft Market, it did come around. It was in a small way, but we did get to sell the airplane in the desert. A friend from the Airwest days, Fred Wiseman, was now working for Pepsico in Purchase, New York. He heard that we had a used DC-9 parked out in the desert and wanted to know how much we wanted for it. Remembering what had happened in the John Mansville deal, I told him that I would rather talk with him face to face and discuss his requirements.

I went straight to Gerry Thomas and told him that I had someone interested in the aircraft and I needed to go to New York. He approved the travel order.

As it turned out, the customer for the aircraft was Malcolm Forbes. I met Malcolm only once; this was in his Manhattan office. It was a brief discussion, set up to show me that Malcolm Forbes was interested in the aircraft. It was like sitting in a museum of expensive artifacts and paintings while talking about a modern technology airplane, which was exactly what we were doing. Malcolm was well aware of the benefits of corporate aircraft use and was looking forward to the Jet Age.

Most of the negotiations, other than with Fred, were with Len Yablans, a flamboyant Secretary to Malcolm and his front end negotiator. He was astute and likeable, though many at Douglas thought him arrogant. You had to remember what his job was and enjoy the act. It was a pleasant experience except when I had to bring Douglas personnel into negotiations.

Freds goal was to put together a Corporate aircraft for $2.5 million. This would include overwater avionics, supplemental fuel and a very expensive interior to meet Malcolms taste.

We accomplished the sale at $2.8 million. Subtracting the modifications to the aircraft, we basically sold the aircraft at $1.5 million in lieu of the $2.3 million offered John Mansville.

The aircraft was sold, but if I had taken upon my initiative during my discussions with John Mansville, we would have done better. But then again, not many people get a chance to sell an airplane to Malcolm Forbes and enjoy the discussions in a museum.

Forbes Magazine DC-9-10