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Celebrating Guys and their Gadgets

January 28, 2002|MARK SACHS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With Super Bowl week playing into the storied sports fixation of red-blooded American males, the History Channel answers with what it calls Boys' Toys week, a five-day homage to the likewise storied link between guys and gadgetry.

The testosterone-fueled series, "Modern Marvels" (9 p.m.), gets off the ground tonight with "Private Jets," a diverting, if a bit overlong, look at luxury air travel for those who feel first-class just doesn't get it done.

The theme week continues nightly through Friday from 9 to 11, with one- and two-hour shows delving into such topics as "Million-Dollar Cars," "Power Tools" and "Remote Control," leaving no stereotype unexamined.

Colorful billionaire Mark Cuban became poster boy for the "Private Jets" episode with his $41-million purchase of a Gulfstream V on EBay, a record for the Internet auction house. And as if that weren't enough, Cuban then bought another Gulfstream so his Dallas Mavericks NBA team wouldn't have to cope with the indignities of charter flights.

This being the History Channel, the program steps back to track the development of aeronautics from the Wright Brothers forward. It's a long trip back to present-day issues, such as the safety of traveling via private jets compared with commercial airlines.

The luxury models' triple-redundancy in its technical systems guard against even double failures, and the private, highly screened and trained staffs that service, load and fly the jets offer some major peace of mind in that regard.

Tantalizingly, the show says "fractional ownership," sort of a time-share-in-the sky arrangement, now makes private jet travel affordable even for the common man.

See you on the tarmac.

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