Although it might not seem as momentous as some of the big moments in life, there are some people who remember where they were when the first Gulfstream G650 was delivered.
The first aircraft were delivered on December 20, 2012. Since then Gulfstream has delivered just over 200 G650s.
Aircraft have been delivered to Finland, Russia, Bahrain, Qatar, Germany, China, Gabon South Korea and Azerbaijan and many other countries. Others have ended up in places like Thailand following sales on the pre-owned market.
Some aircraft have stayed with their original owners, others introduced saw owners sell them – taking delivery of an aircraft and then putting it up for sale straight away – usually at hefty premium despite Gulfstream doing its best to stop speculators.
It was the G650 that re-introduced us to this concept, with some aircraft appearing on the secondary market at $5 million or more above list price.
It is not hard to see why people would pay the premium. No aircraft has generated so many column inches, or had its own dedicated photography groups. Gulfstream had a confirmed backlog of more than 200 aircraft on the first day it went for sale. The serial number you were allocated was based upon the time (by second) that your deposit hit their bank account, if you were late, you’d have to wait years for your aircraft.
Before the initial set of deliveries were made, Savannah was watched like a hawk. By both people on the ground, and by using flight tracking websites.
But on December 20, 2012, two aircraft were delivered on the same day, several hours apart. Serial number 6007 left first, followed by serial number 6010. And then the was 6013, registered as N650PH. This had flown several days before 6007 & 6010 left Savannah and had gone to Ft Lauderdale. Several reports suggest this was the first aircraft delivered, although the US register suggests otherwise.
Preston Henn, who took delivery of 6013 was certainly the first in the queue. He made sure he was. Rather than keeping hold of the G650 he leased it straight back to Gulfstream. But he took his friends for a quick flight on the aircraft first.
Gulfstream used the G650 as its demo aircraft, flying to shows around the world, before eventually selling the aircraft in Japan for a reported $71 million. Quite a return for Henn, who has been quoted as saying that he paid just $55 million for the aircraft in the first place.
But it was not the highest price paid for a G650 on the pre-owned market. That accolade goes to 6023, originally delivered to Formula 1 mogul Bernie Eccleston (although technically owned by his then wife) and sold on for $72 million to Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, owner of the UK’s Leicester City football club.
Not all of the original G650 deliveries have been sold. Aside from speculating on the chance to make a quick buck, several of the early deliveries have made room for newer aircraft, not least due to the extended range ER version that Gulfstream introduced in 2014.
Although you can buy a brand new G650ER, the kit was also made available to be retrofittable. Five of the first 10 G650s have been upgraded so far.
But where are those first 10 aircraft now? We’ll take a brief look at the history of each of them.
The original G650 and the first one off the line, msn 6001 started life with test registration N650GA. It flew first on November 25, 2009, the first G650 to fly.
After the flight test campaign 6001 flew around as a demo machine, until 6013 took over the duties.
It was re-registered as N650GX in November 2013. The aircraft didn’t appear to have flown much since its registration, however it’s flown several test flights from Savannah in the last few weeks, so could be about to find a new home.
Unfortunately 6002 was the aircraft that was lost in the test campaign on April 2, 2011, tragically cutting short the lives of Gulfstream experimental test pilots Kent Crenshaw and Vivan Ragusa, as well as technical specialists David McCollum and Reece Ollenburg.
Following its time in the flight test campaign, 6003 was delivered to Starbucks, where it has taken up the registration N211HS. The HS in the registration stands for Howard Schultz, the company’s chairman and CEO.
It remains with Starbucks and has not been retrofitted. It is based at Boeing Field in Seattle.
Another aircraft that was used in the test program, 6004 was also used as a demonstration machine, being put on display around the world.
It was also used as the test aircraft for the G650ER upgrade, and flew from Los Angeles to Melbourne Australia in early March 2014, making it the first business aircraft to make such a flight.
The G650 started its flight from Los Angeles International Airport at 05:37 local / 13:37z on Saturday March 1, and arrived at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport 14 hours and 49 minutes later at 15:26 local / 04:25z on Sunday March 2.
Corporate Jet Investor reported on this flight a few days after it took place. A few months later, the G650ER was launched.
It was later re-registered as N104GD to make way for a newer N650GD. It was then delivered to G350 Leasing LLC in May 2016 as N650RG.
This was another of the aircraft used in the development and flight testing phase, when it was registered as N655GD. It flew for the first time at the beginning of 2011, and after it had finished its certification duties it was delivered to Dillard Department Stores in June 2013 as N915BD.
The aircraft was subsequently converted to a G650ER sometime in August 2015. It is based at Little Rock, Arkansas.
G650 msn 6006 was the first G650 to be delivered internationally. The aircraft was operated by Airfix in Finland, and although it did have a Finnish OH-registration reserved, it was eventually registered in the Isle of Man as M-YGVI instead. It did however later take up the Finnish marks OH-GVV.
The aircraft was operated by Airfix, and owned by Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko.
Timchenko owned 99% of Airfix, but sold his stake in April 2014. As a result the G650 ended up being operated by Elitavia as 9H-GVI.
It is now registered as LX-SIX and operated by Luxaviation.
6007 was one of the first G650s to be delivered, in fact it left on the very first day of deliveries. It was owned by Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts, and when it was first delivered it flew straight to Wynn’s home in Sun Valley, ID. Wynn made most of his money from Casino’s and hotels, so N711SW was a regular fixture at Las Vegas.
Although it has been upgraded to a G650ER, Wynn took delivery of a second G650 in October 2014. That G650ER, msn 6087, took up N711SW was it was delivered, with 6007 being registered as N288WR.
The SW at the end of the N711SW registration stands for Stephen Wynn, the founder and owner of Wynn Resorts.
G650 msn 6008 was delivered directly to Wal-Mart before the end of 2012. It was upgraded to a G650ER during April 2015.
The MS at the end of the aircraft’s registration stands for Mr Sam, which was the the nickname of Samuel Moore Walton, the company’s founder.
The aircraft remains with Mal-Mart, and is based at Rogers, Arkansas.
6009 was originally delivered to the Government of Jordan in February 2013 as VQ-BNZ. It continued to fly for the Government until February 2015 when it was sold to Warner Chilcott Leasing as N923WC.
The aircraft was then upgraded to G650ER standard in July 2015 and is based at Morristown New Jersey.
The Government of Jordan currently operates two newer G650s, msn 6102 / VQ-BMZ and msn 6158 / VQ-BNZ.
6010 could have been the first G650 to be delivered. It left Savannah on the first day of deliveries, and flew to Dallas Love Field Airport to be based with Exxon Corp.
Registered as N100A, the aircraft was upgraded to G650ER standard in March 2015.
The aircraft remains with Exxon Mobil Corp.