An award-winning international aviation journalist has told of his amazement as he saw Sir Richard Branson emerge from a Manx-registered luxury business jet.
Los Angeles based Guy Norris spent many of his early years in the Isle of Man and went to school at King William’s College.
Mr Norris, a senior editor with the publication Aviation Week, said he was astonished to see Branson emerge from the Manx jet, complete with the M-prefix and he said it served to show the global influence of the Isle of Man Air Registry and all the associated private companies involved in the aviation sector here in the island.
He was in the island covering the popular Aviation Conference and was joined by delegates from the island and around the world.
Another American based visitor likened it to an ‘international who’s who’ of big names involved in the tax and finance work surrounding the aviation business world.
LA Bureau chief Mr Norris, who has won awards for his aviation journalism was at the Villa Marina, Douglas for the day-long event last Thursday. He comb ined it with visiting family in the south of the island.
Later he told Business News: ‘I’ve been trying to get to this conference for five years and this was my first chance where happy timing and circumstances worked out.’
Asked about the influence of the Isle of Man worldwide he told how he went out to the Mojave Desert in California last October in connection with Branson’s Virgin Galactic space flight project. He said Branson was flying in to celebrate the 10th anniversary of winning the X-Prize with SpaceShip One. He said: ‘I saw Sir Richard Branson fly in from Necker Island, his private island in the Caribbean, in his own personal Falcon jet to be at this big event.
‘Lo and behold it was a Manx registered aircraft sitting there on the ramp in Mojave. I took a photograph of it and I thought: ‘‘Are you kidding me?’’
‘The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry, to me, it’s like you never know now where it is going to show up, every corner of the world is the likelihood that you will see a Manx registered aircraft and it’s great for me, it reminds me of home.’
He said there is not a lot of information available about the exact provenance of some business jets but it was highly likely that the jet used by the multi-millionaire British entrepreneur was owned by his company.
He said the Falcon is a French built business jet. ‘There it was in the middle of the desert. It was a real shocker to me.’ Mr Norris, who has written several aviation books, said the Falcon 50EX is a top of the range business jet which is still small enough to land in Necker Island.
A speaker, Scott O’Brien, from Washington DC told Business News: ‘For people that do tax and finance work in aviation this is kind of like a who’s who of people. There’s a lot of very well known people here. It’s a great conference.’
Mr O’Brien is senior manager, finance and tax policy with the National Business Aviation Association.
Delegate Simon Davies, who is the Canadian based managing director of Global Jet Capital, Inc. said the trip to the conference had been well worth making.
He said: ‘We have a growing number of people starting to look at using the Isle of Man Registry. We are a new company, only in business for 12 months, but more and more we are seeing requests from our clients to consider using the Isle of Man .
‘We have clients around the globe wanting to talk about the Isle of Man and we are very comfortable with the Registry.’ Mr Davies said the Isle of Man was a getting a ‘fantastic reputation as a friendly jurisdiction’ where bureaucracy and red tape was not as great as some other parts of the world.