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Old 10-04-2010, 04:12 AM   #1  
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Default When Stewardesses Were Hot and Jets Were Cool

When Stewardesses Were Hot and Jets Were Cool


By Hugh Hefner



When I was growing up in Chicago I didn't travel much. I started to commute between Chicago and Los Angeles a lot in the mid-'60s. In 1966 I traveled to London for the opening of the London Playboy club. I saw the future when I was in London: The sexual revolution was going on and the miniskirt had just arrived. I decided then and there to get the jet.
I designed the Big Bunny jet to stand out. We considered a bunch of psychedelic colors and then one night I was looking at my limo and I thought, "My limo is black. My plane should be black." Nobody had a black plane at the time. It was like "The Ugly Duckling."


I purchased it in the late '60s and they delivered it in '69. It came off the McDonnell Douglas factory line. I visited the factory two or three times while it was being manufactured. It was a stretch version of a DC-9, meaning it had the capability to go anywhere in the world.


We had to get special permission from the Federal government to paint it black. We got spotlights on the wing tips that lit up the tail so at night all you saw was the iconic rabbit flying through the air. It was a truly spectacular sight to behold.


It was a great toy and it was a great gift to give. I lent it to Elvis Presley to fly to concerts and I lent it to Yul Brynner. When the Vietnam War was ending, he had arranged to adopt a Vietnamese orphan. A lot of them had been brought to San Francisco and their adoptive families were across America. He called me and asked me if it was possible to ferry them to the families who wanted to adopt them. I said yes. The Big Bunny transported about 40 babies. There were babies everywhere on the plane, all being taken care of by the Bunny mothers.


The summer of 1970 was the most memorable trip I ever took on the plane. I went with Barbi, my brother Keith, the Playboy artist LeRoy Neiman, the film critic Gene Siskel, a couple of other friends and a photographer, a houseman and the jet bunnies. We went to London, the south of Spain, Kenya and the Nairobi bush, Athens, and then we sailed around the Greek islands, and then we went to Rome, Venice, Munich and Paris. And then we went home. It was all remarkably easy.


I had never been to Africa before. My only big trip before that was the year before when I had just started dating Barbi. She was filming a German movie so I flew over with her and then we went to London and Monte Carlo.
The jet bunnies were women who were actual bunnies in the Playboy clubs in Chicago and Los Angeles but they were also fully trained stewardesses. Stewardesses used to look like Bond Girls; now they look like your mother. The jet bunnies' costumes were very James Bond-like. There was a black mini dress made of a leatherette material that was very striking, tall boots and a long white scarf with a rabbit. I'm very design oriented, so I had a lot to do with them.


I loved the convenience of the jet. You're not locked into a seat. It was literally a floating apartment with a bedroom, a living room, a dining room and a disco area in the back. I had TV tape machines at both of the mansions. They recorded our favorite programs and you could watch them on the plane. This was before videocassettes.


Once I got the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles in 1971 and settled in, there was less reason to travel. I fell in love with life at the mansion so a lot of the things I enjoyed in traveling I found at home.
When people ask me if I miss the Big Bunny I say "only when I fly."


—In this weekly column, guest contributors share their most memorable travel experiences.
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Old 10-04-2010, 05:25 AM   #2  
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FWIW, Purdue used to help in the operations of the PB jet, and can't argue with what his thoughts on things are either!
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:46 AM   #3  
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I have heard that Hugh Hefner was the inventor of the logo light on the tail. He complained that you couldn't see the bunny at night and wanted a light on it.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:31 PM   #4  
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I believe Purdue had their own charter airline at the time, and they provided pilots for Playboy.

Ozark provided maintenance at their hanger in STL. My uncle was an Ozark Cpt. and would often take me through the hangar. On one occasion, the Playboy -9 was there. Very striking in appearance compared to the typical airliner Some resemblance to the Braniff "jelly bean" livery of the day however. At least the black ones.

This would have been around 1970-71.
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:41 AM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USN(Ret) View Post
I believe Purdue had their own charter airline at the time, and they provided pilots for Playboy.
That is correct! I'm sure there are stories......maybe someone's waiting until retirement to share them Anytime it was mentioned by some folks, you could tell something was up!
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:47 AM   #6  
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Lightbulb Or maybe a beacon between the ears?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coto Pilot View Post
I have heard that Hugh Hefner was the inventor of the logo light on the tail. He complained that you couldn't see the bunny at night and wanted a light on it.
Good safety move. A lot of customers were colliding with Playboy bunnies in those dimly-lit clubs.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:09 PM   #7  
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Ozark provided the crews for the bunny airplane....not Purdue. Purdue did not have any qualified DC-9 pilots. Ozark crews described being kept in the cockpit while Hefner and friends boarded or deplaned. Not much fun.
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:31 PM   #8  
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I forgot the program but Hef was on it talking about the luxury of flying in his own private jet. I believe he owns a GIV or GV meow.

Some more good photos of his jet and one with some F/As.
Just Plane History: The Playboy Jet: "Big Bunny"
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