According to FlightAware.com, Pilot Travel Centers in 2009 acquired a 10-seat Falcon 20 from a company called Air 1 Inc.
Air 1 had the same address as Western Express, according to state records.
Paul Wieck, the president of Western Express, said the company’s former majority owner was the one involved in the deal, but he has since died.
The records from FlightAware indicate that Pilot sold the aircraft to a Michigan company called Royal Air Freight Inc., in 2010.
A Royal Air spokeswoman said the company “wouldn’t have a comment.”
Eric Eckardt, of Florida-based Flight Source International, said his firm brokered the deal.
“That aircraft was sold to one of our clients up in (the) Detroit area,” he said.
Asked why the company bought or sold the aircraft, a Pilot spokeswoman declined to comment.
The plane transaction could be significant as prosecutors try to make the case that top Pilot executives were aware that customers were being defrauded.
The affidavit, for example, highlights a Nov. 20, 2012, diesel sales meeting at which Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam and president Mark Hazelwood allegedly were in attendance.
As we talked about before, the affidavit highlights more than that. John Freeman, Pilot's vice president of sales, straight up says, "Fuckin' A. I mean, I called Jimmy and told him I got busted at Western Express. [...] I mean, he knew all along that I was cost-plussin' this guy. He knew it all along. Loved it. We were makin' $450,000 a month on him."
If Freeman is telling the truth, it means that Haslam knew years ago that this was happening and did nothing until the search warrants came to put a stop to it. In fact, Freeman makes it sound like Haslam not only knew about it, but thought it was awesome.
So it turns out that, for now, the plane is the thing to watch. Like I said before, it's not the kind of thing a CEO just doesn't know about — a million-dollar unusual purchase by a company. Here's the other thing. A Falcon 20 that works, depending on how old it is, is worth between $400,000 and $1.5 million.
It seems unlikely that a Falcon 20 that is — and I'm quoting Freeman here from the above News-Sentinel story — "so broke, the (expletive) wasn’t air-worthy, so we had to sell it in Nashville," is worth the million dollars Pilot paid for it, considering that there are a number of working Falcon 20s on the market right now that aren't worth a million dollars.
And you'd have to think that the CEO of a company would either know ahead of time about the purchase of a jet by the company, or he'd have questions after the fact about why the company paid "working plane" prices for a plane that couldn't leave Nashville.
Not to repeat myself, but Jimmy Haslam would have to be stupid for this to have gone down without his knowledge. And for better or worse, he doesn't seem stupid.