Tom Haines

Sonny and the $22 million Bellanca

August 19, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (right) with CFI Ron Carroll and a Robinson R44 in front of the Georgia captiol.

Look out Georgia Dems! If you thought Sonny Perdue was a formidable force with a Bellanca Super Viking at his disposal, think what he can do with the addition of a helicopter.

I was among the crowd of thousands at the 2007 National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta when the Georgia governor told of his exploits using general aviation over the years. Perdue, an enthusiastic pilot since his boyhood in central Georgia, routinely flew a Bellanca Super Viking to campaign stops around the state in his 2002 bid for the Georgia governorship. He won–the first Republican to win the seat since Reconstruction. He says the Bellanca is worth $22 million–the difference between the $3 million he spent to win the seat and the $25 million his non-pilot Democratic opponent spent to lose.

Perdue, 61, claims the speedy four-seater allowed him to be more places than his opponent and especially allowed him to easily access smaller communities than his opponent.

So if the Bellanca provided easy access, imagine what he can do with a helicopter. We’ll find out because Perdue in July earned his rotor rating in a Robinson R44 with Ron Carroll, an instructor at Blue Ridge Helicopters in Lawrenceville. Perdue used his vacation time to solo and a total of 66 hours to get the rating. All in all, he has more than 2,800 hours of flight time. On the fixed-wing side, the governor has a commercial certificate with a multiengine rating.

Because of Georgia term limits, Perdue won’t be eligible to run again until 2014, enough time for him to truly hone his helicopter skills. Also enough time for any opponents to recognize his secret weapon and begin flight training now! May the best pilot win.

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6 Responses to “Sonny and the $22 million Bellanca”

  1. Glenn Plymate Says:

    Hearty accolades to Gov. Perdue and his recognition of the value of general aviation aircraft … and adding a helicopter rating to his credentials. The stories make no mention of AOPA. Is Gov. Perdue counted among the 416,000 members?

  2. Wally Crabtree Says:

    Congratulations Sonny, I knew that you were hooked and would get it done.

  3. Joel Levine Says:

    On the first Saturday in July our monthly 1st Saturday Aviation Program & Breakfast was honored by Gov. Perdue’s after completion of his first helicopter solo. It was indeed a surprise as he and his instructor joined about 100 others for breakfast. Wearing shorts and a baseball cap, it took us all a moment to recognize him.

    Pictures of his visit are in the Media Gallery at http://www.eaa690.org or at http://www.eaa690.org/mediagallery/album.php?aid=75&page=1

  4. Baird Foree Says:

    Nothing is more enjoyable than flying for 37 years and practicing veterinary medicine for 28 years, unless it is believing in Jesus. Continue to enjoy each day. Thanks for being an excellent role model for all of us. Job well done!

  5. Reuben S. Roberts Jr. M.D. Says:

    I congratulate you Sonny on your aviation accomplishments. Rural Georgia thanks you for your Air Georgia Program that will help the economic development of small communities through airport initatives. Thanks again for what you have meant to the people & pilots of Georgia.

  6. John Merryman Says:

    Congratulations to the Governor. As a resident of New York City (and a helicopter and airplane pilot myself), I an pleased that our Mayor, Michael Bloomberg is also an active private pilot with his instrument rating as well as a rotorcraft rating. I heard him on the radio at HPN airport a few months ago requesting takeoff clearance to fly his big sikorsky to the downtown Manhattan heliport. This country needs more politicians who fly!

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