Palin tries new tactic to unload hated jet

Anchorage Daily NewsApril 22, 2007 

Editor's note: This story was originally published April 22, 2007

The state has tried selling its unwanted jet online four times and failed. So last week, the Palin administration signed a contract with an Anchorage aircraft broker who thinks he can succeed where eBay couldn't The eBay thing didn't work out very well, said Dan Spencer, director of administrative services for the Department of Public Safety. He's the person charged with trying to get rid of the infamous Westwind II.

The administration made a deal last week with Turbo North Aviation, promising the broker a 1.49 percent cut of the selling price.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski bought the jet, which cost the state about $2.6 million, over the protests of the Legislature and used it to fly around the state, sometimes mixing campaign errands with government business.

After he defied almost everyone to acquire it, the jet became a political albatross for Murkowski. Gov. Sarah Palin beat Murkowski bad in last August's Republican primary. One of her campaign promises was to sell the plane and she's been trying to unload it for months. Robert Heckmann owns Turbo North Aviation. He said his company has sold more than 1,800 planes including two dozen or so jets in the past 27 years.

Spencer said Heckmann suggested the asking price of $2,450,000, based on the current jet market.

The state's definitely not going to give this plane away. If that was the case, then they would have sold it on eBay Heckmann said. He described prospective buyers a governments, corporate entities, oil companies, movie stars, well-to-do people.

Meanwhile, the state is stuck making quarterly payments of about $62,000 on the Westwind II. So is the state sick of dealing with this bird?

I don't know about anyone else Spencer said. You don't want to keep making payments on something you're not using, he said. l'll be happy when it sells. I'll be a happy guy.

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