The 2014 CJP Convention came to a close Sept. 20 with a gala dinner featuring the induction of golfing legend and accomplished aviator Arnold Palmer to the Citation Jet Pilots Association Hall of Honor. Palmer joined Cessna Chairman Emeritus Russell W. Meyer Jr., and veteran Cessna engineer Bruce Peterman, among the esteemed ranks of aviators to receive the highest distinction bestowed by CJP.
“Without aviation, I probably never would have had the success I’ve enjoyed over the years,” Palmer said before the induction ceremony. “To be able to tell all these pilots – who are far better than I am in flying [Citations] – how much fun I’ve had, and what it has all meant to me, is a wonderful honor.”
Palmer began his flight training in 1956 at the controls of a Cessna 172, and over the years amassed time in aircraft ranging from Aero Commander turboprops to the Boeing 747. At Meyer’s request, Palmer served as a consultant on the development of the original Citation 500 business jet in the early 1970s.
“I started the program with Russ when he became chairman of Cessna, and I’ve flown just about all of his airplanes through the years,” he added. “Taking delivery of my first Citation [in 1976] meant an association with Cessna and Russ that was key to my future and my life. Playing golf, it afforded me the opportunity to play the game where ever I had to be to play it, while also being with my family at the same time. That was very important to me.”
Over the next 38 years, Palmer would own “seven or eight” different Citation models, bringing the same professional attitude and spirit to the cockpit as he did to championship golf courses around the globe. On January 31, 2011, Palmer capped off more than five decades and nearly 20,000 hours in the left seat with his last flight as PIC.
“I was thrilled,” Palmer said when asked about his feelings on that final trip from California to Orlando, FL. “The airplane was so wonderful, and I was excited to be able to set a speed record from west to east. Particularly in the [Citation] X, which was a great airplane and gave me the opportunity to fly anywhere in the world.
“Certainly the airplanes I’ve owned have been a thrill for me, and I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a lot of success with those airplanes,” Palmer concluded. “The opportunity to fly Citations, and be a part of this program from Day One, has been very important to me. I’ve loved it, and that has helped my business go as it has.”