Buying a new car can be a wonderful experience. After you get over writing the check, that is. An undeniable new vehicle smell permeates the interior. The slick paint glistens under rows of hot white lights in the showroom.
And if that new vehicle is an airplane, you can multiply the sensations by 10.
Such was the experience for me as I walked into Textron Aviation’s new aircraft delivery hangar in Wichita in mid April. In my case though, I was buying a used airplane, the very last Mustang demonstrator. But since the owner was Cessna, I was treated to a “new” airplane acceptance process.
Welcoming me into the building, I glanced at my name engraved in a Lucite display with other visiting high-rollers. “Would you like some water, Mr. Miller?” came the question from the receptionist at the front desk. “Yes, some Perrier please,” I said, “with four cubes of ice.”
Soon, I was escorted by Chris Lee, director of Citation Sales for Texas and Louisiana, to the immaculate white-painted floor of the delivery hangar. There she was. November 416 Delta Mike. Roped off so no unwanted characters could approach. A small red carpet led me to the open door.
“Mr. Miller,” shouted the voice from behind me. “Could you stand next to Chris so I can get a picture?” This was no vagrant with an iPhone. This was a professional photographer with a flash bulb! “Certainly, why of course,” I agreed. “Which side of my face looks best?”
Delivery memorialized, I stepped inside. There was that new airplane smell. And not a speck of dirt. I looked again. Surely I could find at least one and complain about something. For an airplane with 1,200 hours, it was immaculate.
Easton Julian, customer account manager, handed me a paper form with each delivery item noted. A large table nearby was covered with all the manuals, tie-down ropes, coat hangers, static wicks, etcetera that come with a new airplane. We checked each one off the list.
It was impressive.
“For your departure this afternoon, how much fuel will you need and can I assist you with any catering?” offered Easton. “Certainly, yes,” I stammered. “I will need some Perrier and four ice cubes.” I looked around the hangar for another airplane I could buy. This was just too much fun.
Dining on a catered lunch in a reserved meeting room overlooking the delivery floor, we talked about airplanes and what a wonderful person I was. Mike Pierce, technical marketing advisor, told me I could even have the last cookie on the dessert plate.
Taxing away from the delivery hangar into the sunset, I wanted this day to last forever. I took a sip of my Perrier with ice and smiled.