Governor Kristi Noem spent $195K on Oklahoma plane consultants Verity Jet Group to tell her a truth that any regular citizen in the street could have told her for free: the Governor of South Dakota does not need her own jet plane. Stephen Groves reports that the Department of Transportation is replacing the state’s King Air turboprop planes with a 2015 King Air turboprop:
The Department of Transportation completed the purchase of a 2015 Beechcraft King Air 350 for about $4.5 million, spokesman Ian Fury confirmed. The aircraft, which holds up to nine passengers, is marketed to business executives with pull-out work tables, a built-in refreshment center and onboard Wi-Fi.
…South Dakota’s new plane will be one of the most luxurious state-owned planes in the region. North Dakota flies a pair of King Air 200s manufactured in 1995. Minnesota’s King Air 200 is a 1993 model. And Nebraska’s King Air C90 GTX, which it purchased straight from the factory in 2014 for $3.5 million, has a cabin roughly half the size of South Dakota’s new plane.
The state is selling its King Air 200 along with a 1995 King Air 90. The Department of Transportation estimated the two planes would need about $850,000 in maintenance in the next three years. The three planes in the state’s fleet were previously averaging an annual maintenance cost of $333,000 [Stephen Groves, “Noem Settles on Roomy Turboprop for New State Airplane,” AP, 2021.08.05].
The state’s new-to-us King Air 350 can easily whisk Noem and a full load of seven other passengers to a pop break at What-a-Burger in McAllen, Texas, in 3.5 hours and still have plenty of fuel to fly to a fundraiser in Dallas. Mar-a-Lago is still in range, too, and hey—if Kristi wants to get their faster, she can borrow pillow-man Mike Lindell’s jet again.