Whether you got your private pilot’s license to fulfill a lifelong dream, have more control over your private aircrafts or to make “weekend trips” with the family that much easier, there’s also a sector of private pilots who happily help with searches. When Malaysian Airline flight MH370 went missing, private pilots stepped up to plate to aid in the efforts. Each of these pilots are heroes, but of course those with celebrity status get the most media coverage—and that includes Peter Jackson.
The director of the Lord of the Rings offered his private jet to join the hunt for MH370. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the one in the cockpit (he’s not), but since his Gulfstream G650 is nearby in Perth, the New Zealand director’s personal aircraft has helped broaden the search. A spokesman for Jackson says, “Peter would not seek publicity for something like this and would actively avoid it, in fact. A lot of civilian and military aircraft are involved in the search and it’s kind of disappointing that because one is owned by a celebrity it becomes a matter of news when there are 200 people missing.”
Why Jackson’s Aircraft Matters
While his spokesman is certainly correct, private pilots understand another reason why Jackson’s aircraft deserves media attention. After all, the acclaimed director does own a G650 Gulfstream which boasts the title of fastest civil aircraft in the world. Simply put, it can cover more area faster, and by speed and technology alone offers more help than less powerful planes and helicopters. It’s unknown which pilot is actually flying Jackson’s G650, but it’s surely someone with the experience necessary for such a crucial mission.
The jet was purchased in March 2013 and it’s estimated that Jackson paid about $66 million for it. The G650 is described as an “ultra high-speed, ultra long-range business jet” and is the “gold standard in business aviation” according to Gulfstream. Usually, Jackson’s jet is in Wellington and can carry a total of 12 people (eight passengers and four crew members) on a single journey of just over 7,000 miles.
Pilots Earning Karma Points
Frequently the underdogs of search and rescue missions, you rarely hear about the private pilots who risk treacherous weather, while donating their time, funds and private property to help in these missions. It’s not just big impact stories such as MH370, either. When local hikers go missing or other similar situations occur, there are often private pilots donating their skills and time to help.
It’s been reported that Jackson’s jet is shuttling communication from other planes which are included in the search. However, Peter Clark, an aviation expert, has his doubts about how effective a G650 is for this type of assignment. “I just can’t even see the need of anything like that. Military aircraft, they’re capable of their own communications. It doesn’t quite add up,” he told the Herald. Critics aside, Jackson’s donation certainly won’t hurt and it’s a great example of private pilots, and private aircraft owners, contributing and using their aircrafts in time of need.