Mach 1 for Millionaires

Briefcase-toting suits who travel in bizjets-those will be the next pioneers in supersonic flight.

A Supersonic Laminar Flow Control model of the F-16XL takes a trip through the wind tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. (NASA Langley Research Center)
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Sidebar: The Used Airliner King

Forty years before he bought Gulfstream, Allen Paulson had been working as a hotel janitor in Clinton, Iowa, when he won a $100 bingo game. He used the proceeds to buy a bus ticket to California where he was befriended by a barnstormer named Tex Rankin, who cultivated Paulson's interest in aviation. Paulson enrolled in an airline mechanic training program and was hired for 30 cents an hour at TWA.

After service in the Army Air Forces he rejoined TWA as a flight engineer aboard Lockheed Constellations and started a side business selling aircraft engine modifications. By 1951, Paulson's California Airmotive had become a full-time career and he shifted his focus to buying used airliners and converting them to cargo haulers. In 1967, Paulson founded another company, American Jet Industries, to convert old piston airliners into jetprops. During the 1960s Paulson bought and sold 300 airliners including Constellations, DC-3s, DC-7s, and Electras. In one transaction he snapped up Eastern Airline's entire remaining fleet of 42 piston aircraft. By 1969 Paulson's annual revenues topped $14 million and Newsweek proclaimed him the “used airliner king.”

“At one time he had more airplanes than a major airline,” remembers son Michael Paulson.

Allen Paulson died in July 2000. Just a year later, Michael, himself a veteran of the bizjet industry, formed SAI and hired Lockheed to conduct SSBJ feasibility and design studies.


Sidebar: The Challenger

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