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When FBI Director Christopher Wray wants to use the bureau’s $60 million Gulfstream G550, he typically summons it to nearby Reagan National Airport instead of being driven 30 miles to the regional airport where it’s kept, a whistleblower told The Daily Wire, describing a costly habit paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
Records obtained by The Daily Wire show the jet has made the roughly 15-minute flight between its base at Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia and Washington, D.C., area airports 140 times since 2020. The whistleblower and currently suspended FBI agent, who spoke to The Daily Wire, said the local trips are made to save Wray and possibly other bureau bigwigs from the 45-minute drive to and from Manassas on either end of their flights.
“The FBI jet is being used, I believe, in a grossly mismanaged way,” FBI agent Kyle Seraphin, who was suspended from the bureau last year, told The Daily Wire. “Chris Wray has a jet fly from Manassas, Virginia, to Reagan National Airport, because he doesn’t want to sit in traffic.”
Security detail agents inside the bureau told Seraphin that the Gulfstream jet has been picking up Wray, who moves around D.C. in a motorcade of three black Chevrolet Suburbans, from Reagan National for years, possibly since Congressional members confirmed him as bureau director in 2017.
Of the 140 trips between Manassas and larger regional airports, 124 were to or from Reagan National, the closest major airport to the bureau’s Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters. Nine were either to or from Dulles International Airport, some 26 miles from downtown Washington, and five flights involved Baltimore–Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Two other flights landed in specific locations in the nation’s capital.
“[Wray] does it simply because he doesn’t want to be inconvenienced by traffic on I-66,” Seraphin said.
Flight records obtained by The Daily Wire covered the period from April 2020 to the present and showed the trip from Manassas to Reagan National can take as little as six minutes. While the FBI declined to say how much the bureau spends on the short flights, The Daily Wire spoke to an aviation expert, who requested anonymity due to the nature of the story, about operational costs for a Gulfstream G550 in an effort to estimate how much it costs taxpayers to spare Wray from being driven back and forth.
The private sector cost to fly the jet ranges between $7,000 to $11,000 per hour, including fuel, landing fees, and other costs, the source said. Gulfstream G550 jet fuel tanks hold about 6,000 gallons and the aircraft burns roughly 500 gallons per hour, the source said, adding most fuel is burned at takeoff and landing. The shorter the flight, the less cost-effective, the aviation expert said.
A 15-minute flight of that duration by a Gulfstream 550 burns 223 gallons of fuel, the source estimated, noting flights of a half-hour or less can burn up to 70% more fuel on a per-hour basis than longer ones. Jet fuel prices fluctuate wildly, dipping as low as 61 cents per gallon in April 2020 and reaching $4.12 in June 2022. At the current market price of about $3.50 per gallon, the cost of fuel to fly from Manassas to Reagan works out to $780.
But there are substantial other costs. General aviation services at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport are handled by Signature Flight Support company, which told The Daily Wire that average landing fees vary per aircraft. However, representatives said those registered in a waiver program designed for government officials average around $2,500 per landing. How much the bureau spends on landing fees at Reagan National and surrounding D.C. airports, or if it must pay both when picking up and dropping off Wray or other officials was not immediately known.
The source cautioned that there are other costs and variables involved that cannot be estimated based on available information.
Officials at Manassas Regional Airport, where the FBI maintains a hangar, said the bureau does not pay landing fees there, apparently making it even more expensive for the jet to pick up and drop off Wray away from its home base.
It was not known how many of the short flights were made to facilitate travel for Wray. In a statement to The Daily Wire, the FBI denied that Wray uses the jet to avoid automobile traffic.
“The FBI is not going to comment on specific plane locations because of operational and security sensitivities,” the bureau statement said. “The FBI Director’s use of FBI aircraft is long-established and continues due to the mission needs of the FBI and the FBI Director’s security requirements.”
Wray’s use of the bureau’s jet came under heavy scrutiny last year when the New York Post investigation found the Gulfstream made eight trips in the four months to Atlanta, where Wray has a house in the exclusive Buckhead district.
Wray also cut short a Senate oversight hearing on August 4 to fly to a vacation getaway in New York’s Adirondacks after telling Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that he had to attend to “business.”
Following the hearing, House Republicans pressed Wray on his use of government aircraft for personal travel as an “illegal abuse of taxpayer funds.”
FBI officials responded to members of Congress, verifying Wray’s testimony as “consistent with the prearranged format and timing,” noting the bureau works out hearing logistics with congressional committees in advance.
“The FBI Director travels by government aircraft due to the FBI’s national security mission, which necessitates specific communications capabilities and security considerations,” the statement reads. “Director Wray has adhered to the federal regulations governing the use of the aircraft to include reimbursement for personal use. The Bureau’s national security and law enforcement operations, including transporting investigators and critical evidence, has been and remains the first priority for all FBI aircraft.”
Seraphin, who spent six years in the bureau working in counterterrorism and counterintelligence, was officially suspended indefinitely and without pay in June 2022 after he complained of allegedly questionable activity within the bureau and refused to comply with its COVID vaccine mandate.
Because he refuses to resign, Seraphin remains sidelined and unable to seek alternative employment without the bureau’s permission.
House Republican lawmakers approved the creation of a new select subcommittee earlier this month under the Judiciary Committee, led by that panel’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). The subcommittee will investigate the weaponization of the federal government, including the FBI.
Jordan told Sean Hannity last week that over two dozen whistleblowers from the bureau have come forward since lawmakers approved the GOP resolution.
Seraphin, according to Jordan, would be among the first to testify about the agency he once served.