The Playboy jet: How Hugh Hefner traveled in style

In 1969, Hugh Hefner was the king of the world. His magazine empire was at its peak, and he was about to expand Playboy to 37 different countries. At the time, one quarter of all American college age men were buying his magazine – every single month.

So – what is a successful and flamboyant magazine publisher to do? Well, in the case of Mr. Hefner, he purchased himself a jet – a big jet.

On January 27, 1969, the McDonnell Douglas company finished production on a DC-9-32, and one month later, Hugh Hefner took delivery of N950PB, nicknamed “the Big Bunny”.

This was no normal jet – despite the wild 60′s, not many business owners had the creativity – or the money to invest in their own flying home away from home.Shower, private entry and a movie theater

playboy jet

Even by today’s private jet standards, N950PB was a very luxurious jetliner. A rear folding private entrance took Hefner directly to his private quarters with an elliptical bed. After a long flight, he could take a shower or get some work done in his conference room.

Passengers were also treated well!

Fellow passengers could relax in the bar or enjoy a movie on the big screen. Once everyone was in the mood, they could even dance in the “discotheque” complete with lights and an 8-Track deck.

Indeed – the DC-9-32 really was a bit of Playboy in the skies. The only thing missing was a swimming pool and bowling alley.

playboy jet

Hugh Hefner never made a secret about his love of beautiful women- and admitted that his many, many mile high club endeavors were just like they are on the ground – albeit with “better memories”.

N950PB’s flight crew members were obviously selected for their looks – but these were real professionals. The Jet Bunnies were all trained at Continental Airlines in LA where they’d learn inflight safety and food preparation.

From party plane to retirement

Originally, his plane was based at Purdue and was maintained by the aviation department of the University. Sadly, things started to go downhill for the magazine in the mid 70′s, so the party plane was sold to Venezuela Airlines and reborn as “YV-19C“. She then spent several years in storage.

In 1989, Aeromexico renamed her “Ciduad Juarez“, repainted her and used her for domestic Mexican routes. The era of The Big Bunny came to an end in 2004 when she was finally retired for good.

[Photos from: Playboy.com]

Super Bowl impact on Tampa uncertain

Playboy has canceled its Super Bowl party. Sports Illustrated has done the same. And, these are just two of the events that have been flushed as team owners and corporate sponsors try to navigate a difficult financial environment.

The good news is that an estimated 100,000 visitors are expected to spend $150 million in Tampa this week, so the Super Bowl is good for something … beside monkeys in commercials. But, this is 20 percent below what they would spend in healthier economic conditions, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

For the week ahead, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has remarked that image management will be crucial. “I think the word I would use is extravagant,” Goodell told the Washington Post. “You don’t want that. We understand that. That’s not what the NFL is about. But we do want the event to be exciting.”

Meanwhile, the money engine behind this annual event is showing signs of strain. NBC has set a $3 million price tag per 30-second ad, and 10 percent of its inventory still hasn’t moved. Last year’s game reached 97.5 million viewers, making it the second-largest audience in history. The final episode of M*A*S*H retains the top spot. But, the nine most-viewed shows since 2000 have been Super Bowls.How is the media handling all this? I mean, if you haven’t noticed broadcast and print are host to unprecedented corporate carnage.

Well, the NFL says that the number of companies looking for media credentials is up, thanks to that brave new world of 24-hour news called the internet (which I guess isn’t a fad) and the fact that reporters are notorious for wanting free stuff. But, most media companies are expected to spend smaller teams.

For people who have to pay for access, the story is mixed. All 72,500 tickets were sold, most at $800 a piece. Though 1,000 Super Bowl tickets were cut to $500 each (a $200 discount), 25 percent did sell at a record $1,000 each.

So, there is still plenty of money out there, the question is going to be how far into their wallets travelers will reach. After spending more than $500 on a ticket and probably a few thousand dollars on travel, we need to see how many will add a few extravagant dinners and cigar runs to Ybor City will occur on the periphery.

For now, it looks like the grandest Super Bowl party in the world – the Super Bowl itself – will not be what it has been in past year.

[Via Washington Post]