Tom Foley, a businessman running for governor in Connecticut, seems to own a pair of his own supersonic fighter jets.
According to a 1997 profile of Foley in “Flying” magazine, Foley purchased two Folland Gnats — British military aircraft first used in the late 1950s — and received special training to fly them and perform the “usual range of military aerobatics including, barrel rolls, loops and even spin entry.” The magazine described Foley, the owner of Stevens Aviation, as someone with a “lifelong interest in aeroplanes, cars, boats and other machines.”
Foley purchased the planes when the British government auctioned some of its old Royal Air Force vehicles in 1990. He reportedly leapt at the opportunity and bought two for $US200,000 apiece from Sotheby’s. He then spent about a million dollars “modernizing and civilizing” one of the jets.
Among other changes, he gave the jets a special white paint makeover that was the reverse of the colour scheme the planes sported in the Royal Air Force. You can see a photo of one of the jets in its military colours here and another picture of it after Foley’s makeover here. “Flying” also has a photo of Foley in the cockpit.
“Flying” reported Foley, who had to wear an oxygen mask while piloting what the magazine dubbed “an unusual business jet,” originally intended to sell one of the planes and use the funds to make the second one “even better.” However, the magazine said his makeover of the first aircraft “took so long and turned out so well” that he did not get rid of the second jet.
Currently, FAA records seemingly show Foley still owns both planes. One of the jets is still registered in Foley’s name at an address in Greenwich, Connecticut. The second jet is registered to a holding company at the same address. Foley’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider about his jets.
Foley’s opponent, incumbent Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D), has repeatedly sought to depict Foley as an out-of-touch millionaire who profited from heartlessly firing workers across his various businesses. Malloy reportedly pointed out at a recent debate that Foley owns the jet, in addition to a “$US10 million house and a $US5 million boat,” in order to press this point.
The Journal Inquirer reported earlier this month that it reached out to Foley’s campaign about the “Flying” magazine account of the fighter jet. However, Foley’s spokesman “ducked” and instead chose to speak broadly about his candidate’s vision for the state.
“What people want in leaders are strong values, the right policies, and the right experience and skills for the job,” the spokesman said. “Tom Foley beats Dan Malloy on all three. Tom believes in honesty, hard work, generosity, and being a respectful, contributing member of the community.”
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