Photo Credit: George Stroud/Express/Hulton Archive
Did You Know? James Brown Was The First Black American To Own A Private Jet
James Brown held a lot of titles, including “The Godfather of Soul,” “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business,” “The King of Funk,” and the list goes on. Yet, there’s one title he’s known for that has nothing to do with his iconic stage performances, but highlights the fact that he defied the odds.
When The King of Soul purchased a Learjet 23 in 1966, he became the first Black American to own a private jet. This was during a time when Black Americans were still fighting for equality, even though The Civil Rights Act was passed just two years earlier.
The Learjet 23 was introduced in 1964 and is an American six-to-eight-seater twin-jet.
It was a game-changer at the time as it revolutionized business transport and created a new market for fast and efficient small jet transports, according to The Museum of Flight.
Buying the plane reportedly allowed James Brown to perform more than one show across multiple cities in a day.
While the Lear was the private plane that people knew of the most, Brown had previously owned the Beech H18 aircraft. It was the same plane that crashed in Wisconsin’s Lake Monona, killing soul singer Otis Redding.
By the 1970s, Brown was forced to sell his Learjet 23 to pay back taxes he owed the IRS. He, who many in his circle called an “aviation buff” loved planes and later leased a Learjet 24.
One of his dreams was to fly on the Airbus A380 – the world’s largest passenger aircraft that can seat anywhere between 500 and 800 passengers.
Brown’s dreams were never fulfilled, as he died in 2006 after a week-long battle with pneumonia.
As for the Airbus A380— nicknamed superjumbo— Airbus announced in 2021 that it would discontinue the plane because of the lack of orders.
If you plan to honor Brown, your best bet is to fly Emirates Airlines, as the airline has the largest fleet of A380 aircraft.