Up in the Air With T. Boone Pickens

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 5's Meredith Land recently joined 84-year-old T. Boone Pickens on one of his business flights to experience a day in the life of the oil tycoon. (Published Friday, Apr 26, 2013)

    Even at 30,000 feet, T. Boone Pickens rarely stops.

    Most Texans know the 84-year-old as an oilman. He is on the Forbes list every year and, according to it, is worth $1.2 billion.

    On a recent day, a Gulfstream 550 with orange and black stripes awaits the billionaire, whose birthday and initials are on the jet's tail, at Dallas Love Field at 11 a.m.

    He arrives by car on the tarmac and, in less than four minutes, his G-5 is wheels up. Before noon, he is 30,000 feet in the air.

    Each seat has a monitor that shows the plane's location and speed.

    "Yeah, we are right on 600," Pickens said from his leather chair.

    The trading day is still young. Pickens dials up the trading desk at his Dallas Hedge Fund, BP Capital.

    "I want to know what the market is doing anyway," he said.

    Still in the skies over Dallas, Pickens is calling the shots.

    "Thirteen billion? OK, so you're down now on the oil, you're down $12 this month," he said to the trader at the other end of the phone.

    He watches Bloomberg TV on one of 10 TVs on the luxury jet. On another, he keeps up with news reports.

    But now it is meeting time. Jay Rosser, BP Capital vice president of public affairs Pickens' chief of staff, briefs him on media coverage and the day ahead.

    "See, we've been working on that New York Times story -- natural gas, heavy-duty trucks," Rosser said.

    The two go over several articles and an itinerary for the day in South Carolina, today's destination.

    In less than two hours, Pickens lands in Pickens County. Today, he is tracing his ancestry. Two genealogists and several other members of his BP Capital staff are on board with him.

    When asked if he enjoys his busy life, Pickens said, "Yeah, I like this life. I don't find anything wrong with it."

    The $50 million jet itself is key in his fast-paced life.

    "Well, I couldn't do it on the airlines, but I could do it on a smaller plane," he said with a smile.

    His G-550 has 18 seats, two bathrooms, four phones, two large TVs, eight smaller ones, a fridge and two full-time pilots with a combined 65 years of experience.

    But it's not a cheap way to travel. Pickens said the fuel costs $7,000 per hour.

    "It's worth it," he said.