The Quintessential Self Made Man: Michael Harrah PDF Print E-mail

He was penniless when he first resolved to buy a jet. Not anymore.

Thirty five years after launching his career with nothing but competitive zeal and a carpenter’s tool kit, Michael Harrah is the sole owner of Caribou Industries, a major development corporation which has built and managed restaurants, high-rise offices, hotels, golf courses, shopping malls, convention centers and other properties across the western United States. Harrah’s interest in aviation began in 1976 when he saw a simple, “Learn to Fly--$25” ad, took an introductory flight and was hooked. He worked his way up from a Cessna 310 to a 421B, buying and flying a number of planes along the way, all in the course of a couple months.   He now owns a Gulfstream IV and five helicopters, including a Cobra combat helicopter he’s flown in a number of blockbuster Hollywood films.  While Harrah loves flying, he also sees how owning a jet and helicopters makes a statement.  In this interview, he tells a story of flying to San Francisco, picking up his loan officer and flying to Lake Havasu where he had a helicopter parked.  They transferred to the helicopter and Harrah flew across the river where the pair had a great dinner in Harrah’s restaurant. He says, “I had a loan commitment for $13 million that same night. I think he was fairly impressed.”

Read More in the January 2007 Business Jet Traveler