Golfer & Aviator
Arnold Palmer, a man who made golf a sport of interest to America, died on Sunday, September 25. As evidenced by the quotes cited below, Mr. Palmer attributed much of his professional success to his use of his aircraft. By flying his plane early in his career, he minimized his travel time between tournaments and maximized his ability to do the things which contributed to his rich and full life. He learned to play golf on the course at which his father worked in Latrobe, PA and he learned to fly at the airport within a long T shot of his home course. The airport was renamed to honor its most famous aviator.
TWO ARNIE QUOTES
- “To put it quite simply, I could never have accomplished even half as much as I have in my golf and business careers over the last four decades without having my own airplanes.” – Arnold Palmer
- In 2010, he told AIN publication Business Jet Traveler, “I’m glad I played golf for a living, but I really would have enjoyed flying for a living, too.”
“A seven-time major winner, Hall of Famer and golf’s most beloved figure. Affectionately known as “The King”, Arnold Palmer won 62 PGA Tour titles amass a total 95 professional wins. The marks Palmer left on the game go beyond his playing record. He helped build the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, FL. He founded Arnie’s Army Battles Prostate Cancer and contributed to countless charitable endeavors. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Golf Medal in 2012. He co-founded Golf Channel in 1995.”
NBAA Mourns Arnold Palmer’s Passing, Dedicates 2016 Convention to Golf Legend, Aviation Champion
Washington, DC, Sept. 26, 2016 – National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen today reflected with sadness on the passing yesterday of Arnold Palmer, an American icon, golf legend and long-standing advocate for business aviation.
“Arnold Palmer is a national hero who transcended golf,” Bolen said, “and until his passing, it seemed he even transcended time itself, as multiple generations of people from all over the world recognized and loved this American treasure.
“While Arnold’s appeal is universal, he holds a truly special place in the hearts of everyone in aviation,” Bolen added. “His passion for flying, his professionalism with over 19,000 hours in the left seat, and his tireless advocacy for our industry, combined to make him our great champion.
“To honor his legacy, we will dedicate our upcoming convention to his memory,” Bolen continued. “It is especially appropriate to do so as we gather in Orlando, FL, home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational,” Bolen said, referring to the golf tournament held annually at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, which Palmer has owned since 1974.
A frequent attendee and speaker at NBAA’s conventions, Palmer lent his stature and credibility to a host of NBAA advocacy initiatives. For example, in 2009, he was featured in a so-called “truth” advertisement produced by NBAA, which became one of the cornerstones of the No Plane No Gain campaign, the advocacy program jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
“Using business aircraft is the single most productive thing I have done,” Palmer says in the television ad. “It’s given me the opportunity to compete more effectively in golf and in business, and it’s enabled me to do both from a place not served by the airlines.”
That same year, Palmer served as keynote speaker at NBAA’s convention; during his remarks, he declared: “I know the value of business airplanes. I know what they have done for me and my companies. I know how important they are to my hometown. And I know how important they are to this country.”
A respected business leader, Palmer was also one of the first CEOs to lend his name to NBAA’s “Business Leaders on Business Aviation” initiative, also produced for the No Plane No Gain program. The initiative features testimonials from dozens of CEOs, explaining how the use of an airplane helps their companies achieve their business objectives.
“Business aviation has given me an important edge,” Palmer states in a compendium of the CEOs produced by NBAA. “It has allowed me to be in more places, in less time, than the competition. As a result, it has given me more opportunities to succeed.”
During NBAA’s 2010 convention, Palmer was recognized with the association’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award for his dedication to business aviation. In the same year, he received the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) award for aviators, the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, for having exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years. In 2014, he was inducted into the Cessna Jet Pilots Association’s Hall of Honor.
Palmer has received both of the U.S. government’s highest honors – the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he won in 2004, and the Congressional Gold Medal, which was bestowed in 2009. He also is a member of several halls of fame, including the World Golf, American Golf and PGA halls. In addition, he was named “Athlete of the Decade” for the 1960s by the Associated Press.
The November/December 2016 edition of NBAA’s Business Aviation Insider magazine will include a feature story paying tribute to Palmer’s life and legacy
Arnold Palmer considers the three smartest things he did to be marrying his wife Winnie, deciding on a career in golf, and learning to fly.
Golf legend Arnold Palmer died yesterday from complications with heart problems, at the age of 87. Palmer had 95 wins over an incredible professional career, including seven major championships and 62 wins on the PGA Tour, placing him fifth on the all-time PGA wins list. In 2000, Golf Digest ranked him as the sixth greatest golfer of all-time. And though Palmer’s love for aviation was well known, as he was a strong advocate for general aviation, people are often surprised by how involved Palmer was with aviation and flying. And so to pay tribute to Arnold Palmer and his love for aviation, here are some of the details about his time as a pilot.
Details on Arnold Palmer’s Time as a Pilot
What Aircraft Did Arnold Palmer Have His First Flight In?
Arnold Palmer’s first flight was in a Piper Cub. As a young boy, he spent a lot of time at the small airport about a mile from his home, listening to pilots trade stories. And then, one day, according to Palmer, “A friend of a friend of the family who was an Army pilot took me for a ride in a Piper Cub. He did some things he probably shouldn’t have done and really gave me a scare. Even though it shook me, it also gave me the resolve to take lessons and become a flier.” 1
What Aircraft Did Arnold Palmer Learn to Fly In?
Arnold Palmer in 1953, at age 23, serving as part of the Coast Guard
Like countless pilots before and since, Palmer began his flying lessons in a Cessna 172, starting in 1955. He soloed in 1956 and earned his private pilot certificate that year, learning to fly with pilot Babe Krinock at the Latrobe Airport (which was renamed in his honor in 1999. More details on that below.) He continued flying in leased 172s, 175s and 180s. 1, 6
What Pilot Ratings Did Arnold Palmer Hold?
In addition to holding a private pilot certificate, Palmer earned both an instrument rating and a multi-engine rating. He was also type rated for the Lear Jet and several models of the Cessna Citation family of jet aircraft.1, 6
What Was the First Aircraft Arnold Palmer Bought?
Palmer purchased his first aircraft, an Aero Commander 500, in 1961. 1, 6
What Other Aircraft Did Arnold Palmer Own?
A little more than two years after purchasing the Aero Commander, Palmer purchased his second airplane, an Aero Commander 560F. According to Palmer, “It was brand new, more powerful, and roomier than the 500. It had a cruising range that would enable us to make it to Palm Springs from Latrobe with just one stop, cruising at 240 nautical miles per hour.”
Palmer’s next plane was the Rockwell Jet Commander in 1966, which cruised at 500 mph and extended Palmer’s range to 2000 nm. After that, Palmer owned a variety of different jet aircraft, including a Lear Jet, and many of the different Cessna Citation models. He started flying the Citation I, before moving to a Citation II, III, VII and eventually the Citation X. According to Charlie Johnson, one of Palmer’s chief pilots, he acquired the first Citation III production aircraft.
In Palmer’s own words, the first time he saw the Citation X, “I was standing on the sixth fairway waiting to hit an approach shot in our annual gala that benefits the Latrobe County Hospital. I heard a familiar jet roar and looked up to see just about the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen—the new Citation X gliding right over us as it approached the Latrobe Airport.” 1, 6
What Other Aircraft Has Arnold Palmer Flown?
During his time in aviation, Palmer was given some unique flying opportunities. He flew his Aero Commander alongside the Blue Angels (he became an honorary member or both the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds), and flew many military aircraft, from DC-9s to F-15s and F-16s. He was also invited by Boeing to test fly a 747, and by McDonnell Douglas to test fly their (at the time) new DC-10.1, 6
Did Arnold Palmer Fly Around the World, Setting a Speed Record?
Yes. In 1976, Arnold Palmer and co-pilots James Burr and L.L. Perky set an around-the-world speed record. Taking off from Denver in a Learjet 36, they flew east, circumnavigating the globe in 57 hours, 25 minutes, and 42 seconds. Along the way, they stopped in Boston, Paris, Tehran, Sri Lanka, Jakarta, Manila, Wake Island and Honolulu. Why did they do it? Well, according to Palmer, the flight was “the result of a deal I made with Harry Combs, who was the president of the Lear Jet company, and he said if I would fly a Lear 36 around the world, that he would make a deal with me on a new Lear 35.” He added that after completing the flight and setting a world record as they did it, that “Harry Combs backed out of my deal, and that was the end of that.” 2, 3
How Many Flight Hours Did Arnold Palmer Have?
Over the course of nearly 55 years as a pilot, Palmer amassed between 19 and 20,000 flight hours. 1, 4, 5
Why is The Airport in Latrobe, PA Named After Him?
The airport in Latrobe started as the Longview Flying Field in 1924, before being renamed the J.D. Hill Airport in 1928, Latrobe Airport in 1935, Westmoreland County Airport in 1978, and finally Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in 1999. The airport’s name was changed not only to honor the Latrobe native who grew up less than a mile from the airport but also because of the part he played in helping the airport at Latrobe achieve major expansions and modernization, including a modern control tower and 7,000-foot runway. 1, 5
“To put it quite simply, I could never have accomplished even half as much as I have in my golf and business careers over the last four decades without having my own airplanes.” – Arnold Palmer
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