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Gov. George Pataki often called his predecessor Mario "Air" Cuomo and accused him of overusing state helicopters and an airplane at taxpayers' expense.

But Pataki and other top Republicans have also enjoyed a free ride. The governor's fleet was airborne an average of once a day during the past three years and covered 125,000 miles, according to records from the State Police Aviation Fleet obtained by the Albany Times Union.

Industry experts conservatively estimated that the flights cost the taxpayers at least $700,000, or $5.60 per mile.

The most frequent fliers include Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick.

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