While seemingly drifting through the clouds after leaving Hawaii from my Drinkin’ – Singin’ – Swingin’ event for FedEx and pondering my newest and biggest project, Frank… A Life in Song, I began to consider how important the roles of airplanes were in the life of Frank Sinatra.
His introduction to aviation apparently began at a young age, with some reports stating that his mother, Dolly, wanted Frank to become an aircraft engineer and when she found out his heart was set on singing, she let a shoe soar in his direction. It would be an airplane that would take his mother’s life, when in 1977, at the age of 82, the private jet flying her to see her son in Las Vegas flew into the side of a mountain shortly after leaving Palm Springs.
Sinatra was one of the first to get into the private jet scene, clearly starting a celebrity trend. In his 1962 film, The Manchurian Candidate, when Raymond is recently decorated with the Medal of Honor and is arguing with his parents, the plane used in the scene is Sinatra’s own.
His Lear Jet, which he obtained in 1965, was like a club hangout for the Rat Pack, even being flown to Martin Luther King Jr. rallies. With it he was able to show off to the Beatles’ Paul McCartney, let Elvis use it to elope with Priscilla, and enchant Mia Farrow.
On top of that it undoubtedly helped his career, which was another example of Frank being innovative. Private jets aren’t only about showing off, they are popular among the wealthy because they are convenient and helpful to busy people needing to do a lot of traveling. Today you can find, to name a few, Celine Dion, Harrison Ford (he once owned one of Sinatra’s old planes), Mark Cuban, Donald Trump, Oprah, Jay-Z and Beyonce all flying high with lavish toys.
All of this will definitely impact my performance when rendering hits like Fly Me to the Moon, Leaving on a Jet Plane and Come Fly with Me and gives a deeper sense of meaning to the legendary, My Way, when I think about how the lines, “I planned each chartered course/Each careful step along the byway/And more, much more than this/I did it my way,” likely hit home for him.