It doesn’t quite rank on the grandiosity scale with Air Force One.
And it won’t be crawling with Secret Service agents, though all sorts of aides-de-camp to the celebrity onboard are sure to emerge.
But when the gleaming Boeing 757 bearing a big, bold “TRUMP” logo touches down at Buffalo Niagara International Airport this afternoon, it can only mean one thing – “The Donald” has arrived.
Billionaire Donald J. Trump will attend a 5 p.m. Erie County Republican fundraiser in Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, Lancaster – just a short hop from the airport – as he ramps up an increasingly serious exploratory bid to run for governor of New York.
And as in all things Trump, the 67-year-old Manhattan real estate mogul and reality TV personality will arrive in style.
Not since President Obama and Air Force One – a military version of the Boeing 747 – touched down in Buffalo last August has such a conveyance glided through local airspace.
Trump paid about $100 million in 2011 to buy and retrofit the 757, according to several reports. It was built in 1991 and formerly owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, and replaced a “used” 727 he previously owned.
Since then, it has gained attention round the world for its opulence and as the flying headquarters of the far-flung Trump Organization. Newspapers in the New York City metropolitan area and in the plane’s Seattle birthplace, as well as the aviation press, have all enviously noted that it is the luxury equivalent to the private Pullman cars of the rail barons of old.
It boasts an onboard dining room, a television with a 57-inch screen in the entertainment center, two wood-paneled bedrooms, and Trump’s personal bathroom complete with gold-plated fixtures. The billionaire has spared nothing in the amenities department.
Maybe some Middle East sheik or Texas oil baron surpasses Trump in the “over-the-top aircraft” category, but it’s a sure bet it tops anything previously docking at the local airport’s Prior Aviation terminal in Cheektowaga.
“One thing I admire about Donald Trump is that he’s completely unashamed of excess,” Aubrey Cohen, who blogs about Boeing and aerospace news for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, wrote in a 2011 article. “While most rich people keep their luxuries to themselves, Trump shows them off to the world.”
Trump did offer one detail about his plane to the Palm Beach Post in 2011 – it’s quiet, which the Post described as a “gift” to the neighbors near his Florida mansion.
“It’s one of the quietest airplanes there is,” he said then. “I did that for the benefit of Palm Beach.”
Trump at first invited local reporters to tour the plane today while he attends the Republican event. But Scott E. Zylka, executive director of the Erie County Republican Committee, said late Thursday that the tour was canceled after the Transportation Security Administration raised concerns.
In the meantime, Amanda Miller – the boardroom receptionist appearing with Trump on “Celebrity Apprentice” – can lead the curious on a tour of the airborne palace in a YouTube video produced in 2011.
“I’m here to give you an inside look at traveling Trump-style,” she says while beckoning video visitors to the plane.
Miller then leads viewers through the aircraft, to show off gold-plated seat belt latches and the Trump family crest emblazoned everywhere on a tour of the 43-passenger luxury jet. She points to the twin Rolls-Royce engines, TV monitors at every seat, and a multiplex movie system with 57-inch screen, 1,000 movies and 2,500 CDs.
The “Celebrity Apprentice” regular also makes no excuses for her billionaire boss – this is certified, official, 100 percent luxury.
“Mr. Trump’s bedroom has yards and yards of elegant gold silk adorning the walls,” she says. “A custom headboard as well as comforter were created to complement.
“I hope you enjoyed your look inside Mr. Trump’s custom-designed VIP 757,” she says, wrapping up the video. “Stay tuned.”
Trump is expected to leave Buffalo this evening without making a commitment to challenge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this year, but just about everyone expects a firm “stay tuned.”
‘Trump Force One’
• Boeing 757 built in 1991; powered by two Rolls-Royce engines with 16-hour range.
• Purchased from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and retrofitted for about $100 million.
• Seats 43 passengers.
• Capable of speeds up to 500 mph.
• Seat belt latches are gold-plated.
• Trump family crest adorns seats and pillows throughout the aircraft.
• Personal TV screens for every seat.
• Donald Trump has a personal bedroom with desk.
• Guest room couches convert into beds.
• Dining room.
• Main lounge with movie system holding 1,000 films and 2,500 CDs.
• Trump’s personal bathroom features a circular shower and gold-plated faucets.
Sources: Seattle Post-Intelligencer and YouTube video featuring Amanda Miller of “Celebrity Apprentice”