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New Plane Is Crown Jewel Of Fleet

BIG CYPRESS - A spectacular Gulfstream IV-SP corporate jet formerly owned by Jordan's King Hussein and repainted with Seminole colors, is the new crown jewel of the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Aviation Department fleet.

Aviation Director Peter Vedel and lead pilot Ken Dunn brought the 88-foot long "state of the art" long-distance jet to the Big Cypress Airfield hangar on Aug. 10, after a short flight from West Palm Beach. Tribal Chairman James Billie, Tribal member Joe Don Billie and Communications staffer Pete Gallagher were also aboard, on the last leg of a trip from Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The Tribe's previous corporate jet, a Gulfstream III, is now being sold. The new jet is taller (24 feet, 5 inches outside, six feet two inches cabin space), wider inside (Seven feet, four inches) and can comfortably transport 12-14 passengers in wide-windowed, berylwood trimmed elegance.

According to Vedel, the new Tribal jet can go "from Big Cypress to London" without refueling stops and is equipped with the most advanced avionics directing the world class Rolls Royce Tay Engines. The airplane, which was once painted black, was used less than 40 hours by Hussein, and the late King's son.

The Seminole Tribal Aviation Department also maintains a smaller fleet of airplanes and helicopters, including a Turbo Commander, a JetRanger II, an Astar, a Hughes 500C and a Bell 47G. The G IV-SP is the fourth Seminole Tribal jet, including an old British Hawker and a Falcon 50 formerly owned by Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The Big Cypress Airfield, owned an operated by the Tribe, is undergoing an expansion of its 50-foot wide, 5,600-foot long paved runway. A new turn-around is being constructed at the runway's east end, along with an extension and new turn-around pad at the west end - adding 400 feet to runway length.

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