Throughout the long and varied career of Donald J. Trump, he has owned and flown in some of the most lavish planes imaginable. From his Trump Force One personal planes, his Trump Shuttle airline and now his vision for the newest Air Force One - all of them are Boeing and every one of them a luxury plane. VP-BDJ was one of these opulent flying palaces, befitting a brash and flamboyant businessman. Check out the Trump Boeing 727 collection.
Trump entered the airline business in 1988, after he and Eastern president Frank Lorenzo met at a party and later negotiated the purchase of a shuttle service and its fleet for $365 million. The purchase included 17 Boeing 727s, including VP-BDJ, landing facilities at LaGuardia, Logan and Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport), and the right to brand the company and fleet with the Trump name. After adding additional aircraft, the Trump Shuttle was launched June 8, 1989.
It was intended to be converted from a no-frills business shuttle to a luxury airline. The planes were repainted and branded with the Trump name. The interiors were redone with maple wood veneer with gold touches throughout. Passengers were able to check in with self-service kiosks at LaGuardia, make in-flight calls, rent laptop computers, and enjoy free meals and beverages. Despite these luxury touches, the airline was never able to stay profitable. It was merged into another corporation April 7, 1992, and eventually became American Airlines Shuttle. VP-BDJ was sold to Theberton, but repurchased by Trump in 1997 to be used as his private jet, the original Trump Force One.
“Get going. Move forward. Aim High. Plan a takeoff. Don't just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won't happen. Change your attitude and gain some altitude. Believe me, you'll love it up here.” - Donald Trump
While the Boeing 727 is known for being extremely noisy, VP-BDJ had a Quiet Wing system kit installed, which changed it from Stage 2 to Stage 3 noise compliance. The interior was redone with mahogany cabinetry and silk upholstery. Additional features included:
It was replaced by a Boeing 757 and VP-BDJ was then sold in 1997 to Weststar Aviation Services , and flew as part of its corporate VIP transport fleet. It retained the lavish decor until the plane was slated for destruction. It turned up in 2015 and caught the eye of one of MotoArt’s boneyard contacts.
Dave Hall of MotoArt was excited when he heard VP-BDJ was available. “We always love finding a plane with a lot of interest to it. This was undeniably a great find,” said Hall.
In addition to creating the Trump PlaneTags and matching Trump money clips, the team also prepared for their release with an over-the-top press campaign, in line with an over-the-top man. While it was not well received by the media contacts MotoArt reached out to, it was appreciated by airplane enthusiasts. “We made them for people like ourselves, for avgeeks by avgeeks,” says Hall. “Politics aside, there is a lot of affection for the Boeing 727 and we felt a great honor preserving one that had seen so much, including being the private jet of our 45th president.”
This marked the first time MotoArt offered a money clip as an aviation collectible. They are made in the USA and constructed from solid brass and are gold plated. They, and the Boeing 727 PlaneTag are made from the fuselage skin. The skin is cut, polished and assembled by hand into the finished products. While PlaneTags are perfect as aviation keychains and airplane luggage tags to be used every day, they are beautiful enough to be a luxury travel item and would be suitable on a flying palace like VP-BDJ herself.