Nothing, it seems, can ground private aviation. Despite the high costs for planes and fuel, the waiting lists for recent and yet-to-be-released planes are growing, and nearly every major general aviation company has put a new model on the market in the past year or so, or plans to. "Thirty years ago, there were more people getting into flying for the pleasure side of things," says Scott Fank, VP of sales at Illinois-based JA Air Center, which sells private aircraft, as well as providing training and maintenance. "Nowadays, we're seeing more people fed up with airlines and fed up with security. So they're looking to private aviation."
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Buying a plane is, in effect, buying a time machine that enables you to accelerate domestic or international travel by hours, or turn a four-hour stop-and-go drive into a 20-minute hop. That's why, even as companies like NetJets and Wheels Up try to convince fliers to buy fractional shares of planes, the wholly owned private aircraft remains a viable product. Here are the most exciting, appealing, or flat-out audacious models – available now or soon enough to place a preorder.
Price: $65 million
Available: Since 2012
Range: 7,000 nautical miles
Gulfstream's latest is all bluster – it's the biggest, fastest, farthest-flying private plane around. The Gulfstream G650 flies at speeds of up to 0.925 Mach (or 0.85 – 0.9 Mach at cruising), faster than anything outside of the military, including commercial airliners. It goes 7,000 nautical miles, a range that connects Los Angeles and Tokyo with fuel to spare. The flight crew also gets the biggest windscreen, the best avionics outside of a spacecraft, and sheepskin-covered seats. And though you can pack its tastefully appointed, super-pressurized cabin (more pressure means less flight fatigue) with up to 18 passengers, if this is your G650, opt for the layout with the stateroom, which has a fold-down double bed and a pop-up 26-inch TV. [gulfstream.com]