Hugh Hefner Aboard Playboy’s “Big Bunny” DC-9

Sep 28, 2017

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Hugh Hefner, founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine and CCO of Playboy Enterprises, died at 91 on Wednesday, after a life that had made him a symbol of the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s. He lived the Playboy brand throughout his entire life — and a huge part of that brand was Hef’s very own DC-9.

Hefner bought the jet, dubbed “The Big Bunny,” in 1969 for about $5.5 million, about $40 million in today’s dollars, new from the Douglas factory. He then had it customized into a flying party bus. The DC-9-32 was at the time a state of the art plane, the stretched version of the Douglas DC-9 that had marked the company’s debut into twin-engine jets and competed directly with the Boeing 737. Hefner’s was painted black and bore the registration N950PB, possibly a nod to the “Playboy Bunny,” the famous logo that was also printed on the tail.

“My limo is black. My plane should be black,” Hefner said in a Wall Street Journal article. Apparently, he even needed special permission from the federal government to color it in this fashion. The DC-9 was totally redesigned on the inside and featured a theater, living room, dining room, bathrooms with showers and even a “disco area.”

The Big Bunny at Chicago O'Hare (ORD) airport in 1975. Image by RuthAS via Wikimedia Commons.
The Big Bunny at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) airport in 1975. Image by RuthAS via Wikimedia Commons.

The aircraft was outfitted with a circular bed and a full command center, where the media mogul could conduct business.

Photo taken on August 30, 1970 shows US Playboy Magazine publisher Hugh Hefner (R), his girlfriend actress Barbara Benton and other playmates arriving aboard the Playboy jet "Big Bunny". AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO / CENTRAL PRESS / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo taken on August 30, 1970 shows US Playboy Magazine publisher Hugh Hefner (R), his girlfriend actress Barbara Benton and other playmates arriving aboard the Playboy jet “Big Bunny” (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images).

There was plenty of seating and lounge areas available.

American publisher Hugh Hefner in his aircraft at London Airport, before flying back to Chicago, 20th February 1971. With him are Playboy models (left to right) Marilyn Cole, Barbi Benton and Connie Kreski. (Photo by Dove/Daily Express/Getty Images)
Hefner in his aircraft in London, before flying back to Chicago, 20th February 1971. With him are Playboy models (left to right) Marilyn Cole, Barbi Benton and Connie Kreski. (Photo by Dove/Daily Express/Getty Images).

The flight attendants, referred to as “Jet Bunnies,” were actual Bunnies from the Playboy clubs in Chicago and Los Angeles and trained by Continental Airlines. Hefner shared quite a few photos of the jet via Twitter over the years, calling it a “great toy and a great gift to give” — having lent it to Elvis Presley and Yul Brynner. The airplane was actually operated and maintained by two since-defunct US airlines, Perdue and Ozark.

Here’s Hef ready to take on the press.

You know you’ve got a big plane when you and your buddies can play Monopoly with a full-sized board.

The jet-black aircraft looked striking against the blue sky.

Check out a collection of clips aboard The Big Bunny:

Hefner said he retired the jet in the 1970s after he purchased the Playboy mansion.

“I fell in love with life at the mansion so a lot of the things I enjoyed in traveling I found at home,” Hefner said. According to PlaneLogger, the Big Bunny was sold to Venezuela’s Aeropostal in 1976 and then to Aeromexico in 1979. It flew with the Mexican airline until 2004 and is now displayed in a theme park in Mexico.

Featured image by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.

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