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TWJay hits some turbulence over new airplane
2013/1/28 8:42:59

This week the Associated Press disclosed that the Missouri Highway Patrol had spent $5.6 million in December to buy a new airplane for Gov. Jay Nixon and other state officials. A ker immediately fuffled.

Republicans in the Legislature promised an investigation. Democratic state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis questioned the governor’s priorities at a time of tight budgets.


To be sure, in his frequent travels Mr. Nixon put a lot of hours on the twin turbo-props of the Highway Patrol’s old gubernatorial plane, a Raytheon/Beech C90 King Air (tail number NMP-2) built in 1999. But airplanes, given the proper maintenance, don’t wear out in 13 years. The new plane is an updated King Air 250.


Governors have to fly, and this is a hard state to travel by road. But unless there’s evidence that NMP-2 is unsafe, Mr. Nixon, when he announces his budget next week, will have a hard time explaining the last $5.6 million of any cuts. Highway Patrol officers especially might want to see a raise.


The state’s aircraft fleet includes a possible alternative: a Firefly 7-15, tail number N21380, operated by the Missouri Lottery. It is a hot-air balloon. Like the governor, it floats gently above the fray.

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