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Published August 20, 2012, 09:45 PM

Celebs make stops at Fargo Jet Center, but how many tough to say

FARGO – The visit by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and his family to a West Fargo diner early Friday might lead some to wonder how often celebrities make pit stops in the area.

By: Dave Olson, INFORUM

FARGO – The visit by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and his family to a West Fargo diner early Friday might lead some to wonder how often celebrities make pit stops in the area.

The question is a difficult one to answer, even for those at the Fargo Jet Center, where private planes come and go night and day.

“Most of the time we don’t know who is on the airplane,” said Darren Hall, vice president of marketing at the Jet Center, which he described as a private aviation services company. “The anonymity of flying on private airplanes is just something that comes with the territory.”

Hall declined to dish details about famous names who have stopped at the Jet Center, but he said they do show up.

“The percent of people that are movie stars that come through is probably less than 1 percent. They do come through, but it’s not every day,” said Hall.

He said Fargo is an attractive place to land, particularly for those returning from international flights.

“They could fly nonstop to Los Angeles or Las Vegas,” Hall said, “but they have to clear customs at Los Angeles International Airport.

“Who wants to do that?” he asked. “They might run up against a 747 with 400 people on it.”

While he isn’t privy to every glitterati to touch down in Fargo, Hall’s work has meant rubbing shoulders with celebrities now and then.

“Years ago – this was even before the Jet Center was around – I helped Ron and Nancy Reagan when they came back from Europe one time,” he said.

“It was after he was president,” Hall said. “Ronald Reagan walked off the airplane, and I was helping Nancy on the phone to call her daughter.”

If celebrity landings are not unusual in Fargo, longish layovers, like the one that allowed the Hanks family to make a trip to West Fargo, are.

“Usually there’s not time to do that,” Hall said. “I don’t know that it has ever happened before, where they have had to lay over for several hours and had to find something to do.” He was referring to the Hankses’ visit to TNT’s Diner in West Fargo on the recommendation of Jet Center staff.

“We took care of them like they were one of our everyday customers,” Hall said.

Another famous visitor to the Jet Center, former President George W. Bush, stopped there as a candidate for president and later as president.

“That’s when Air Force One came to town,” Hall said, adding that many high-profile travelers to Fargo fly under the radar.

“A plane clears customs, we fuel the airplane, and they’re gone in, say, 15 or 20 minutes,” said Hall. It’s later that they’ll find out someone famous was on board.

“A lot of times we don’t see who it is. And, truthfully, a lot of times it’s not the movie stars coming through here. It’s maybe the producer, something like that.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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