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By Ivan Veretennikov
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Falcon 5X Quite a long time ago Dassault announced the new SMS project that was supposed to fill the niche of the Falcon 50. Much later, at NBAA 2013, the company finally unveiled the Falcon 5X â€“ its biggest and most innovative jet yet. Obviously, plans had changed.
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Interior design is familiar Falcon with light leather and shiny metal parts, contrasting dark wood veneer highlighted with splashes of green. It's spacious, light and trademark Falcon
Take a look at the images of the new Dassault Falcon 5X. It is instantly recognizable as a Falcon jet, with a similar 4-window cockpit arrangement as the 7X and the classic cruciform tail that is a common trait of all Falcon models. At first glance, it doesn’t look much bigger or, rather, fatter. It retains its slender shape and clean aerodynamic lines. In all honesty, even a trained eye could probably mistake it for the current Dassault flagship if it wasn’t for a giveaway: two engines instead of three. Yes, it is indeed the first long-range Falcon jet to let the third one go. Well, many knew it was coming, but generally people were guessing that it would directly replace the 900 series. And it won’t. The wait was well worth it. Dassault have come up with a completely new design that will set new standards for their own line-up and a high plank for competitors. Let’s take a tour. Walking in, don’t turn toward the cockpit quite yet – we will come back to it. Go right. Just two steps in – and look up. The brilliant designers of this aircraft came up with a nice perk: a so-called ceiling skylight, or basically a window looking straight up. The argument is as follows: first, unlike on other aircraft, the owner or passenger won’t have to walk through a dimly-lit galley to get to the cabin, receiving a nice and bright welcome straight away (as long as it’s daytime). Second, the flight attendants will undoubtedly perform their
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jobs better when they have plenty of natural light. Plus, we reckon many would want to come in during the night to take a look at the stars too. They should be seen much better from high up above the city smog. The aircraft offers more entertainment than just that, so let’s continue. The first thing you notice inside the actual cabin, especially if you’ve flown in the other Falcons, is the size. Yes, this aircraft has a much bigger cross-section than the other jets of this model. What’s more, the Falcon 5X can easily compete with the biggest and best in this category, with a cabin height of 198 cm leaving behind even the G650 and a width of 258 cm beating the Global 5000 by 9 cm. Considering the overall parameters, the Falcon 5X is aimed more or less squarely at the market of Bombardier’s popular machine, but for now take in this familiar interior design: light leather and shining metal parts, contrasting dark wood veneers and
The first thing you notice inside the cabin, especially if you've flown in other Falcons, is the size. Yes, the aircraft has a much bigger cross-section than the other jets of this model
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A lot of thought has gone into the detail for passenger comfort like the abundance of gadget pockets for things like tablets and smartphones
little splashes of green here and there. It’s spacious, it’s light, it’s trademark Falcon, no mistake. The divans in the back that will of course make a big single bed are of a darker shade. The tail section should be a place of rest, and it creates an appropriate atmosphere. Don’t take the translucent bulkheads as a must: should the customer choose a proper solid divider with a door, Dassault will supply just that. Do you notice how many gadget pockets there are in the sidewalls and chairs? At last passengers can stop choosing between using the cup holder for their coffee or two mobile phones. Leaning the iPad against the wall in the hope it doesn’t go flying elsewhere during a performance takeoff is a thing of the past. Such a small detail, but how often overlooked! One more thing you don’t get to see in every aircraft is a veneer that speaks to passengers in symbols. No, this is not a hallucination somehow connected with the presentation of the Falcon 5X mockup in Las Vegas, but a modern technology that allows the projection of icons such as the “fasten seatbelt” sign right onto a veneer. After the sign is switched off, all that’s left behind is the clean wooden surface with nothing to disrupt the harmony. Not much else will intrude on your peace during the flight either. In terms of sound levels, the 5X will be on par with the 7X – one of the quietest aircraft ever. Cabin air will be fully recirculated in a matter of two minutes, while a smooth ride will be guaranteed by advanced control systems. And regarding the entertainment features. The 5X will offer the latest generation of the popular FalconCabin HD+ cabin management system, including its Skybox media server with a vast iTunes video and music library. A fully wireless environment will have passengers accessing all media content on their tablet PCs and using smart phones (or, as of today, an iPhone) to control such settings as lighting, volume levels, and entertainment options. After a look at the interior, let’s return to the cockpit. It’s not such a long trip as in the G450 or the abovementioned Global 5000, because the passenger cabin is shorter. In terms of volume (50 m3) there’s more than in the first and less than in the second (43.2 and 57.3 m3 respectively). Once you are inside the pilot’s workspace and we start talking technology, however, it becomes apparent that the Falcon 5X doesn’t really have competitors. In terms of flight range of 9635 km (Dubai – London, Cape Town, or Tokyo) the G450, Global 5000, and its own sibling Falcon 900LX can put up a fight, but the space-age insides of the new Dassault jet set it in a class of its own.
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Once you are inside the pilot's workspace and we start talking technology however, it becomes apparent that the Falcon 5X doesn't really have competitors. The space-age insides of the new Dassault jet, set it in a class of its own
Its 9635km flight range allows for DubaiLondon, Cape Town or Tokyo putting it on a par with Gulfstream's G450 or the Global 5000
The first step ahead is an upgraded fly-by-wire system taken from the Falcon 7X. No business jets of this class have it. The second is a new wing with advanced wing devices that keeps take-off field length down to a record low of 1535 m – 150 m better than the closest competitor. What’s even better is that the Falcon 5X can land at almost full takeoff weight. This means that after fuelling up to the full in one spot it can make a short hop, pick up passengers, and fly almost its full flight distance. Such ferry legs add to the flexibility of the aircraft and also help to save money on fuel or parking costs. There will be even more savings down the line as Dassault promises 30—35% better operating costs than business jets of the same class. Factory price? Around $45 million, which is a very competitive deal considering the cabin volume, performance parameters, and technology. The verdict? The Falcon 5X is great. It’s hard to think of a single flaw but one: deliveries start in 2017. On the other hand, ■ it looks like it’s worth every minute of the wait.
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By Ivan Veretennikov
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Dassault Falcon How do you create innovative, agile, aerodynamically perfect business jets? Dassault says, by making them together with fighter jets, using almost the same equipment and neighbouring production lines. The facilities that build Dassault Falcon aircraft are possibly the most advanced and stunning in the world.
It all kicked off with a dinner in Paris. Our hosts obviously wanted to show the 20 or so journalists from around the world that despite the fast pace of modern business, some good traditions are still around. Over the three days we spent in France for the celebration of Dassault Falconâ€™s 50 years anniversary, we were routinely treated to threecourse meals with splendid wine from ChĂ˘teau Dassault and fulfilling desserts. Every company is quick to say that it blends tradition and innovation, but at Dassault this connection is probably most apparent. Take, for instance, the company barge moored on the Quai Marcel Dassault in Saint-Cloud that we visited on the first morning. A very unusual and special place for meetings, and just that little bit unstable when a boat passes by. Iâ€™ve never seen a conference hall like it in my life, and it surely adds to the customer experience, proving that the company really thinks out of the box and pays attention to detail. After a superb lunch, it was time for surprises: The design centre in Saint-Cloud is more like a modern 3D attraction, with much more functionality than one could ever expect from a thrill ride. We
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were first shown the aircraft blueprints. Now, with any other manufacturer, this would mean at worst digging through stacks of paper to find the right one, while at best they would be shown on computer screens. Not so at Dassault. Blueprints get the Hollywood treatment: They are shown on a cinema screen and viewers wear 3D glasses. The Falcon 7X was designed totally on computer, with no drawings or mockups. It went straight from the 3D model featuring absolutely all necessary components and to the manufacture of the first production prototype. In the design centre, it was easy to see why. The insides of the aircraft are displayed in 3D, with different colours designating different systems of the machine. The model can be turned around, zoomed in and out, and adjustments can be made on the fly. Basically, it is as if the engineers were building the airplane without phy-
The Argenteuil factory has been a company property since 1951 producing all the primary metal parts for all of Dassault and the forward sections of the Falcon jets.
sically building the airplane. All the testing of what they came up with is then also done on computer. And in the room next door. There, an even bigger surprise was waiting: A virtual reality chamber. The operator launches the relevant programme, puts on 3D glasses and sensors on his head, hands, feet, and body, and steps into a virtual mock-up. It can be an interior where one can open and close tables and doors with a move of the arms, or it can be an engine â€“ to find out whether the maintenance guy would hit his head on anything if he had to use a ladder. Hundreds of spots around the aircraft can be brought up in this extremely realistic manner to test all sorts of situations long before metal is cut. Forward thinking indeed! After that, it was a visit to the Argenteuil factory, which has been a company property since 1951. It produces all primary
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oem metal parts and metal structures for the whole of Dassault, as well as the forward sections of the Falcon jets. What struck me there and in the following plants we visited was the abundance of impressive machines that seemed to be doing an important part of the work. In particular, at Argenteuil the fuselage sections are held vertically by a formidable assembly jig, while an obviously clever robotic arm rivets parts together and ensures it is done with precision. There is enough work for people to do as well, and there seemed to be harmony between man and machine. After Argenteuil it was time to board the various Falcon jets and depart to Bordeaux. A flight on a Falcon 7X is a very rewarding experience in itself, but
I obviously underestimated the company motto: “The best is yet to come.” Relaxing in the back, I was suddenly aware that we were being escorted by two fighter jets. After a quick mental check, I realized that we probably did not count as smugglers and could not be flying over a hostile territory, which left only one option: that Rafale interceptors, also produced by Dassault, came to greet us. In fact, they turned out to be one Rafale and one L-39 aerobatic jet, but the experience was unforgettable... especially when we briefly flew in formation. After such a show, it was rather difficult to focus on the Rafale final assembly plant in Bordeaux, right near the Mérignac Airport. It is worth mentioning
once again, however, the military heritage of Dassault Falcon jets, which are known for their agility, interceptor-like handling qualities, and near-perfect aerodynamics that give them their superior efficiency. The next day it was time for the Martignas factory, where more robots assemble the wing for Falcon jets, and the Bordeaux-Mérignac facility with the separate Charles Lindbergh hall for the final assembly of the Falcon 7X. This is arguably the only Dassault factory that looks like other aviation plants: business jets in varying degrees of completeness stand opposite each other by the two long walls, and work goes on in a quiet, tranquill manner. After Dassault reviewed the whole manufacturing process
After realising how much savoir faire there is in the production of the Falcon jets, it is easier to understand why they are capable of so much and still remain more efficient than the competition
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The Falcon 7X was designed totally on computer with no drawings or mock ups. It went straight from the 3D model to the manufacturer of the first prototype
and made the transition to a fully digital design, engineering, and production system, assembly became a whole lot easier and more accurate. Parts come together perfectly, and there is rarely a need for adjustment. Factory veterans remember a time when they had to use paper plans and repeat some operations to achieve the desired result. Another specialty that of all aircraft manufacturers only Dassault can offer is a visit to their own vineyard Château Dassault, with a degustation of the various fine wines that give a real taste to the ownership experience. Seeing the three Falcon jets (the 7X, 900LX, and 2000S) fly above us in formation at one point during the trip was a perfect bonus of the eventful and informative days. The precision with which the Dassault test pilots – all former military pilots – control their machines reflects the precision and attention with which they are conceived and made. After realizing how much savoir faire there is in the production of the Falcon jets, it is easier to understand why they are capable of so much and still remain more efficient than the competition. Of course, the Falcon SMS was presented at NBAA in Las Vegas and is the next big news in the Falcon family. As they say, "The best is yet to come." ■
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Allen Paulson The rags-to-riches aircraft engineer, pilot, dealer, leader, and visionary is best known for establishing Gulfstream Aerospace and playing a major part in making G-jets the most desirable private aircraft on the market. A man of many talents, his recipe for success was quite simple: Put more effort into things than the other fellow does.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve seen history in the making here this afternoon at Arlington International Racecourse!” shouts the excited commentator on the fine sunny day of 13 July 1996, as the crowd of 35000 attendees hails Cigar, winner of 16 consecutive races – the first since legendary race horse Citation to break the record. In the cheering crowd, a lively and evidently happy man in his mid-70s is caught on camera, congratulated by excited ladies and shaking hands with men around him. He is Allen Paulson, the leading North American horse breeder whose farms raised 113 stakes winners in under 20 years. In fact, by the time Cigar retired later that year, he was just $185 short of becoming the first horse in history to earn $10 million, and would remain the top earner of all time until 2008. “A very enlightening story,” the reader is bound to think, “but what does this have to do with aviation legends?” Well, just about everything! If
Paulson’s horse only equalled Citation’s record in 1996, the aircraft he is famous for never even had to compete with Cessna’s namesake family. A VAGUE BEGINNING The Great Depression. Children at work are a common sight as families struggle to make ends meet. The rare visitors to Clinton, a small town sitting on the plain in Iowa right on the bank of the Mississippi, never fail to notice a particularly energetic kid at the local hotel, who manages to clean the rooms and latrines with a whistle and an enthusiastic face, and then – his job here finished – run out to sell newspapers, seemingly never tiring of these uninspiring chores. The kid is 13-year-old Allen Paulson, raised on a 40-acre farm gone bankrupt amidst the Depression. His parents are divorced: mother is at a sanitarium with tuberculosis, while father had moved to California to look for work. Paulson, born on 22 April 1922, even received the
By Ivan Veretennikov
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Grumman representatives, who had been having problems with their business aircraft programme, approached Paulson with a counter offer: Forget Aero Commander. Buy Gulfstream. Horatio Alger Award in 1985 as a recognition of his “rags-to-riches” story. Winning $100 at bingo, he spent $30 of it on a ticket to California, where his father found him a job at a large dairy farm. It was in the Golden State that he had his first ride with a stunt pilot, which changed his life forever. Working to pay for school, he didn’t have much time to actually study. However, the young Paulson was good at maths and had an engineering talent, even a fascination with mechanisms – especially the ones inside flying machines. It is small wonder, therefore, that he signed up as an apprentice mechanic for Trans World Airlines, despite a wage of just 30 cents per hour. Then the World War II broke out, and he si-
gned up for the Army Air Corps, got pilot training and honed his technical skills. Returning to TWA, he became a flight engineer and then started to fly commercially. Inventive by nature, he made some improvements to various aircraft elements, and after his airline failed to recognise them, went on to patent them and sell them back to TWA and other companies. Business began in earnest when he realised that automobiles were readily available in some parts of the country, while they were hard to obtain in California. Driving them back from where his airline pilot job took him, he started making some money... and put it all on aviation. “I got started in this business in 1951 when I borrowed $1,500 on my car,
bought an old airplane engine and tore it apart,” Paulson said in an interview for the Tuscaloosa News on 18 December 1968. “I got enough from the parts to buy two more engines, and from them I got enough to buy five. Things just mushroomed. About 1955 I bought a DC3, refurbished and resold it. I was in business.” THE LEAR STORIES By the early 1960s, Allen Paulson and his California Airmotive Corp. were big names in second-hand dealings, turning over huge inventories of spare parts and airplanes. At one time, Paulson had about 30 acres of aircraft! By then he was already friends with aviator Clay Lacy, himself a legend, featured in one
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of the past issues of Altitudes. Interested in the new business jet that Bill Lear was making in Wichita, Lacy talked Paulson into taking a look. It wasn’t easy, as Allen never had any spare time. “Typically though, one day he called me.” Clay Lacy recalls in his memorial article for Professional Pilot. “‘Why don’t we fly to Wichita in that P51 Mustang of yours?’ he asked. ‘We can get out there and back fast.’ In Wichita, Al took a flight in the Lear 23. It got him really excited. He quickly negotiated a Learjet distributorship for 11 western states, which he operated under California Airmotive. We got our first Learjet demonstrator, s/n 012 (which I’m still flying today), and I went to work for Al as manager of Learjet sales out of VNY.” Bill Lear’s early success with the Lear Jet (written in two words back then) owes much to Allen Paulson’s talent as a salesman and Clay Lacy’s tireless flying. Hollywood stars, politicians, businessmen all got rides in the new jet, and many of them signed up. What’s more, some – such as Frank Sinatra – became vigorous advocates of the Lear 23, while celebrity Danny Kaye became a partner in Paulson’s business when Pacific Lear Jet Sales was formed. By 1969, when Bill Lear sold his programme to Gates Rubber Company and its executives decided to switch to factory-direct sales, the partners were eager to do something else: Clay Lacy went on to start his own charter company out of Van Nuys, while Allen Paulson returned to his second-hand dealership with a strong desire to produce aircraft. The many stories told by Paulson’s friends attest to his wit, entrepreneurial talent, undaunted optimism, and a seemingly endless supply of energy. A particularly amusing one from that period was told by Alex Kvassay, former Learjet and Beechcraft dealer. In short, Paulson had two damaged Learjets after hard landings, and Gates Rubber Co. refused to sell him spare parts. Allen had known Alex before and, reasoning that the more Learjets fly the better for their image (as they had had a series of accidents by then), talked him into shipping the parts from the factory in Wichita using a fictional address in Mexico and
intercepting them in L.A. Facilitated by a lack of attention to the factory on the part of Gates executives, the operation was a success. “After this, Al and I became fast friends and met frequently.” Alex wrote in his memoir in Professional Pilot magazine. PRE-PRODUCTION Chasing his new goal of becoming an airplane manufacturer, in 1970 Paulson renamed his company American Jet Industries, devoting most of his energy toward a design of his own and making money by retrofitting piston aircraft with turboprop engines or reconfiguring former airliners into cargo planes. His new Hustler was to be quite unusual: a twin-engine machine, the light 7-seater had a turboprop in the front for efficiency and short field performance and a small jet engine in the back for speed and high altitude capability. It even went past the drawing board to metal cutting, and the prototype made its first flight in early 1978. By that time, though, history had another twist in store, and one for which business aviation as a whole should be very thankful. At least several people, including Alex Kvassay and David North, former Editorin-Chief of Aviation Week, have a story to tell. In essence, it goes like this: By the time Paulson needed a production site to manufacture his Hustler aircraft, Rockwell was selling the vacated Aero Commander facilities after the programme had been taken over by IAI in Israel (their designs would much later become the Gulfstream G150 and G280). Right before signing the contract, Paulson talked about the coming acquisition to some people who directly or indirectly got it into the press. According to Kvassay, he related the news to Flight Editor Hugh Field, who then published the story (of which Alex is not so proud as it was told to him in confidence). North says he printed the story himself. Whatever the reason, Grumman representatives, who had been having problems with their business aircraft programme, read the story and approached Paulson with a counter offer: Forget Aero Commander. Buy Gulfstream. The dream was about to come true.
Under Paulson's guidance, Gulfstream flourished from the radical Hustler concept (bottom) that featured a prop at the front and a jet at the rear which later morphed into the jet-trainer Peregrine 600, while Gulfstream became the jet of choice for Hollywood's A-list stars.
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BURNING BRIDGES “Ok, so we don’t want to confuse it with the trainer, which is the 600, but Peregrine sounds good. Let’s keep the Peregrine but change the number, shall we? How about we call it the G-550?” Allen Paulson, in his late 50s, is sitting in the conference room in Savannah, headquarters of Gulfstream American – that’s what he named his company after becoming president and CEO in 1978. “No objections? Fine. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk business. What do we have on the new G four?” When he assumed control, there was no talk of the G-IV. Even the Gulfstream III was still in the works. Given top priority, it flew just a year into the company’s new history, but Paulson had not discar-
Paulson motivated his staff by showing that talent and hard work go a long way. When asked about luck, he liked to reply saying that he 'never knew a lazy, lucky guy.
ded his own designs. The unconventional Hustler morphed into the military single-engine jet trainer Peregrine 600, and then, using parts of both, into a light business jet (the one that nearly got called the G-550, by some accounts). The PiperJet and Cirrus SF50 designs of the 21st Century are very similar, but the Peregrine sported a retrofuturistic look with downward winglets and a rectangular air intake by the tail (while the artist-drawn brochure version looked much more attractive, with a sleek Learjet-style windshields and smooth lines). It was not to be, as demand was low at the time, but an episode came out of these experimental ventures that highlights the optimistic nature of this self-made man.
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LEGENDS In his memorial article, Clay Lacy recalls how he considered the ejection seat on the Peregrine military trainer a little “Mickey Mouse”. Later, the prototype crashed during a flight test, but the pilot survived. Paulson never talked about it, so one day Lacy finally told him that he had heard about the crash. Allen said, “Oh, yeah. You know how you guys were so worried about that ejection seat? Well, it worked just perfectly with no problem.” THE FLYING ROLLS-ROYCE Waldorf Astoria, New York, approaching Christmas 1982. A tranquill and luxurious setting, perfect for lunch. There are enough guests around, so it’s not so easy to find a particular group of people. But here they are, at one of the tables – two of them close together, evidently discussing something of importance. One is Sir Ralph Robins, managing director of Rolls-Royce. The other is Allen Paulson. “Trust me, this jet is gonna leave everyone behind,” Paulson is saying. “It will fly from here to Paris, from London to Miami. I’ve already asked around and people are ready to put money in. They want the plane, so I’m gonna need some engines.” “From your description, I understand that you will need something less thirsty, quieter, with more power and a higher bypass ratio, which we can well do. So, let’s see... excuse me, do you have something to write on?” “Don’t bother, let’s just use this,” says Paulson handing him a napkin. The two begin scribbling numbers and dates, exchanging remarks, crossing out and starting anew. A guest who has been following the conversation leans over and says “if you’re trying to do a deal, you’d better have something a bit more substantial to write it on.” He passes a small card, and the two finish drafting what will be one of their biggest contracts – on a napkin and this card! Paulson style. By then, the struggling Grumman business aircraft division had already become a successful Gulfstream Aerospace, and it was time to hit the market with a game-changer. The engine deal concerned the G-IV, a legendary plane that set
new standards for business aviation and became one of the most sought-after symbols of prosperity, firmly putting Gulfstream at the top of the private jet wish list. Paulson didn’t even wait for the first flight (19 September 1985), however, and sold the company to Chrysler in mid1985, staying on as CEO. NEED FOR SPEED “Al, remember that Soviet fighter jet we saw yesterday? The Sukhoi? Can you please get me the guy who made it, I need to sit down and talk to him,” Paulson asks Al Balaban, Gulfstream’s corporate communications director, on the opening day of Paris Airshow 1987. In a while, Balaban comes back to the Gulfstream chalet with Dr Mikhail Simonov, the brilliant Russian aircraft designer who had created the modern family of supermanoeuvrable Sukhoi 27 fighter jets. Just a bit younger than Paulson, barely speaking English, and coming from a very different background, Simonov nevertheless quickly recognised their mutual interest: to create the world’s first supersonic business jet. At a time when the Concorde was still around and everything seemed possible, this idea grew stronger. Much later, when Paulson bought Gulfstream back from Chrysler in 1990 with the help of investor Ted Forstman, it was even considered one of the possibilities for the G-V business jet. But speed had always been his interest. Even before he and Clay Lacy entered a four-engine DC-7 airliner for the Cali-
fornia 1000 Mile Air Race in 1970 (and managed to come in 6th of 20 against WW2 fighters and attack planes) he wanted to go fast. When the time came to promote the new G-IV, he put together a crew, got in the cockpit and took the plane around the world both eastward and westward, setting world speed records both ways. Allen Paulson was fast in his planes, fast and clever in his deals. Even his horses were fast, such as the legendary Cigar and many other thoroughbreds that he saw through to victory at races in the US and worldwide. At the same time, by many accounts, he was a joy to work with, affable, knowledgeable, and always wanting to hear the truth, not just something that would please him because of his high position. He died in 2000, aged 78, but his legacy lives on. His former company is putting out arguably the world’s most advanced business jets, while the dreams of supersonic flight that he pursued until his last day are bound to come true in the future, and his efforts will be rewarded. Even Cigar is still around, enjoying retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. An extremely motivating character, Allen Paulson throughout his life showed that talent and hard work go a long way. What about luck? He had a saying that would serve as a very inspiring ending to this story. Whenever someone talked about luck, Paulson would reply: “I never knew a ■ lazy lucky guy.”
Paulson left a legacy of a company which produces arguably the world's most advanced business jets that continue to break records around the world.
Published on Jun 10, 2014