It's become a fixture, really, the 1969 Fokker F28 parked near the fence at the Oakland County International Airport. Only the last two characters of its registration number — N500WN — give a clue as to its owner: Wayne Newton.
Yes, Wayne Newton, the former squeaky-clean, falsetto-voiced, teen-standard singer turned Las Vegas "Midnight Idol" turned "King of Las Vegas."
Seems Newton's plane has been at the Michigan airfield since 2006 at least — no one really seems to know when it arrived — and shows no signs of leaving anytime soon, says Dave Lussier, the vice president and general manager of Oakland Air. Lussier's company, an aircraft maintenance, storage and charter business, gets a monthly check for the plane's storage, but he wouldn't say from whom or the amount of the payment.
Aerodynamics Inc., another business at the airport, did some work on the plane's interior, Lussier says. Judy Gadsby, an ADI employee, confirmed her company worked on it, but wouldn't provide any details.
If you're in the market for an older aircraft, it's for sale. The price? "Make Offer," reads a website with its listing.
"It just doesn't have a home. We can't open the doors because we wouldn't be able to close them. The batteries are dead," Lussier says. "It's an older aircraft, and there's just not demand for those."
It's also missing some mandatory inspections and part of its windshield, he says.
A search of federal court records found a lawsuit related to Newton's aviation habits. Newton's former pilot, Monty Ward, of Eagle, Idaho, sued the entertainer and Desert Eagle LLC, the company that technically owns the plane, in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas in August 2006, claiming breach of contract.
According to Ward's complaint, Newton hired him at a $92,000 annual salary as a private pilot for a decade beginning in 2003. Ward was not paid, his suit says. He is seeking in excess of $75,000 and attorney fees.
Neither Ward nor his Las Vegas-based attorneys returned telephone calls.
Newton's Nevada attorney on the federal suit, Michele Mercer, said Newton had not authorized her to discuss the case. "And I'm not going to call my client and ask him," she told News Hits.News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]