Caitlyn Bruszewski Aviation Articles

The Big Four: the aircraft that shaped private jet travel

Business jets have created a world of opportunity for businesses and high wealth individuals around the world, allowing them the ability to fly themselves or send predominant staff to places that commercial flights can’t reach. They allowed these executives to attend imperative meetings and be home for dinner. The social status of owners increased as well, showcasing to others that they were long on financial resources and short on time. 

The following are four aircraft that changed the world in regards to time efficiency, business productivity, and social status.  What is most interesting is that all four originated from military contracts with the intent of being quicker and more efficient than predecessors.

 

Lockheed JetStar – L329
Deliveries: 202 (1961-1980)

 

Lockheed created the L-329 as a private venture to meet a United States Air Force (USAF) requirement, which ultimately shaped it into the world’s first business jet design.

The JetStar was one of the largest aircraft in its class, seating ten plus two crew. It was the first corporate aircraft allow a person to walk upright in the cabin.  It can be distinguished from other small jets by its four engines, which are mounted at the tail and the “slipper” style fuel tanks fixed to the wings to accommodate the increased fuel consumption from two extra engines. 

Although it was not the primary Air Force One aircraft, VC-140B’s did carry Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan while they were in office and used the Air Force One call sign while aboard.

Elvis Presley owned two JetStars at different times, the second being known as Hound Dog II. Reportedly he paid $899,702.60 for the aircraft on September 2, 1975.

 

North American Sabreliner 40
Deliveries: 137 (1959 – 1974)

 

The Sabreliner was developed in the mid-1950s by Los Angeles-based North American Aviation as an in-house project. North American offered a military version to the USAF in response to the Utility Trainer Experimental (UTX) program.  Because no other companies competed for the UTX, North American Aviation won the contract by default. 

This was the world’s first executive aircraft to run on a twin-jet system. It was named Sabreliner due to its similarity of supercritical and swept wings and tail to the North American F-86 Sabre jet fighter. It also included innovational slats.

Over 800 Sabreliners were produced, 200 of which were T-39s, military variants used by the USAF, United States Navy, and United States Marine Corps. Deriving itself from the F-86 Sabre, the Sabreliner is the only business jet authorized for aerobatics. The cockpit windows had topside “eyebrows” that provided a distinctive recognition feature for the aircraft.

Sabreliner was sold to Rockwell International and renamed as the Rockwell Sabreliner. In 1981, Sabreliner production came to a close.  In 1982, Rockwell sold the Sabreliner division to a private equity firm which later formed Sabreliner Corporation.

 

Learjet 23
Deliveries: 101 (1964-1966)

 

Among the first, and best known, private jets was the Lear Jet 23 (later renamed Learjet). This jet’s small size and economically fast operation made it a staple in the fleet of captains of industry, celebrities, and other wealthy members of society across the world.

The Lockheed JetStar and North American Sabreliner had been on the market before the Learjet 23 was produced, but its ability to climb higher and faster than its competitors made it the first civilian, jet-powered light aircraft.

The aircraft was beyond its time in terms of performance: 518 MPH cruising speed, 562 MPH (488 knots) maximum speed, 6,900 feet-per-minute rate of climb, 1,830-mile range, and 45,000-foot ceiling. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the Model 23 could out-climb an F-100 Super Sabre to 10,000 ft.

The man behind the Learjet was William “Bill” Powell Lear, Sr., who was inspired by the Swiss P-16 fighter jet prototype. Lear established the Swiss American Aviation Corporation (SAAC) to produce the passenger version: the SAAC-23 ExecuJet. After moving the company to Wichita, Kansas, he renamed it the Lear Jet Corporation. 

Essentially, Bill Lear wanted a small aircraft that could perform like a jet airliner and carry its five passengers and two pilots at 500 MPH for distances of 1,500 miles or more. While the aircraft performed like a fighter, it also had the accident record of one. The Model 23 was demanding to fly, even for experienced pilots. It was unrelenting of pilot errors, leading to 23 Learjet crashes in only three years with four of those resulting in fatalities.  The fleet was only made of 104 aircraft, meaning you had a 22% chance of crashing each time you flew in one.

Lear recognized the problem and introduced the Model 24 in 1966, with improved two-speed handling qualities. The accident rates improved as new models continued to be put on the market, but these rates were still much higher than other corporate jets of the time.

 

Dassault Falcon 20
Deliveries: 512 (1965-1991) including 20C, 20D, 20E and 20F

 

In December of 1961, French aircraft designer and head of Dassault Aviation, Marcel Dassault, provided the approval to work towards the production of an eight to ten seat executive jet/military liaison aircraft that could fly 500 mph+, which was initially named the Dassault-Breguet Mystère 20.

This low-wing monoplane drew upon the aerodynamics of the transonic Dassault Mystère IV fighter-bomber and was equipped with a pair of rear-mounted Pratt & Whitney JT12A-8 turbojet engines. Later upgrades to the airframe include Garrett TFE-731 engines.

Directly selling the aircraft wasn’t a viable option, so they settled on Pan American World Airways as the US distributor. The aircraft were distributed in America under the name Fan Jet Falcon, later becoming popularly known as the Falcon 20.  In total, Pan American placed orders for a combined total of 160 Falcon 20s. Other major orders were soon placed by several operators, both civil and military; amongst these included the French Navy, the United States Coast Guard, and Federal Express.

During the late 1960s and early 70s, aviation businessman Frederick W. Smith was seeking an ideal aircraft with which to launch his new business, Federal Express, commonly known today as FedEx. The Falcon 20 had a strong fuselage, making it the ideal aircraft for cargo operations.  The first packages to be carried by FedEx were in a Falcon 20 on April 17, 1973. Within a decade, the company was using 33 of the twinjets in its air express network.

Dassault went on to sell more than 500 Falcon series aircraft until 1991. The French company continues to be a major player in the market today with its lineup of twin- and three-engined designs.

 

These private jets began as ideas on a crumpled piece of paper in the corner of a desk. No one could have known just how impactful they would become. Across the world, they represent wealth and power to socialites and business owners alike. It is because of these aircraft that the private jet industry is stronger today than ever before.

10+ Gift Ideas for Pilots and Aviation Enthusiasts

Pilots and aviators get to do what many of us can only dream of; fly. So what do you get the people who have the ability to soar above the clouds on a weekly basis? A gift for a pilot should be practical... but it must also maintain a level of sentimentality. 

Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of gift ideas that are aviator approved! 

 

Pilot Wings Hat - $15.95

If you've ever worn a baseball cap while flying, you'll immediately understand how much of a pain (literally) it can be to wear a headset and fight with the little button on top.  Not with this stylish hat! This company had the factory leave off the button that is traditionally found on the top of a baseball cap! Perfect for a sunny afternoon flying or spending the day with friends in the hangar.

 

Leather Pilot Log - $62

You've got to make every trip count. Track each flight with our pilot log, handmade from top-grain leather. This product includes either a standard (ASA-SP-30) or master (ASA-SP-6) pilot log. 

If the special pilot in your life prefers maintaining a digital logbook, send them to Globalair.com! Ours is free, easy to use, and is fully downloadable as a text file or CSV file. And the best part is the ability to add as many aircraft profiles as you need!

 

Flight Gear HP iPad Kneeboard - $34.95

The Flight Gear HP iPad Kneeboard holds the iPad right where you need it - secure on your leg but easily within reach. An integrated kickstand means you can tilt the iPad towards you, which helps to reduce glare. A simple hook-and-loop rotation mechanism allows for portrait or landscape viewing. 

 

Personalized Bobblehead in Flight Suit - $65

Personalize a bobblehead to look just like your favorite aviator. Simply send in images of the person you want the bobblehead to be crafted after and you will receive a custom look-alike. This bobblehead will come in an Air Force uniform. 

 

Set of 5 Aircraft Posters - $21.99

These patent art prints are printed on acid-free matte paper with high-quality archival inks. The prints are shipped in a durable shipping tube and rolled to ensure they don't crease. Perfect for wall decor in a home, bedroom, or college dorm. 

 

Aviator Engraved Whiskey Set - $69.95

This personalized gift for pilots is a unique way to thank the favorite aviator in your life. Each box is made from American Maplewood with sturdy metal hinges. Inside are two custom whiskey glasses and 9 whiskey stones. Includes personalization of the engraved box and glasses with the name and year for an unforgettable gift. The Maplewood box measures 11.25” x 5.5” x 4”. Each whiskey glass is 4” tall and can hold up to 10 ounces. (Liquor not included).

 

Airplane Propeller Replica 47" - $170+

This personalized wood airplane propeller wall hanging is custom designed with hand-engraved personalization and custom colors.  Wooden airplane propellers are the perfect gift for a retiring pilot, new pilot, or for travel themed weddings.

 

Airplane Keychain - $16.99

This key chain is an awesome gift for a pilot, airman, flight attendant, anyone in the air force or for anyone who loves to travel. It features a 1-inch 20 gauge stainless steel round disc stamped with "Have a safe flight I love you Love, (Name of your choice)” and a 1 3/4 inch x 2-inch antique silver-plated metal airplane charm on a 1-inch key ring. 

 

Red Canoe Cessna Stow Bag - $79.99

The Cessna Stow fits a headset, navigational tools and your pilot operating handbook as easily as your gym gear. It is the perfect gift for the pilot who spends more time on his plane than he does at home.

 

Vintage Instrument Coasters - $21.95

These vintage instrument coasters would look great on any pilot's coffee table. They are made with scratch resistant acrylic and have non-skid rubber feet. Designed to look like vintage aviation instruments and comes in a set of 6.

 

Pilot Humor Mug - $16.85

This is the perfect gift for your aviater pilot to use for pre-flight coffee. It will surely put a smile on their face as they try to remember the correct way to spell 'aviator'. 

 

Principles of Flight Tie - $28

Fly into your next business meeting or night on the town with this silk tie that sports the graphic principles of flight. This tie is the perfect accessory for an aviator, science teacher, or anyone with his head in the clouds. 100% silk; fully lined.

 

Spark Plug Plane Paperweight - $35

Recycled spark plugs, butter knives, and nuts and bolts are welded together into the shape of an airplane, giving this mini-sculpture the power to take off with the conversation as it taxis around your desk, workshop or tool shed. It can be used as a paperweight or a simple desk ornament.

 

Pilot Humor T-Shirt - $20

Show the world how much you love aircraft with this funny t-shirt. Available in multiple sizes and colors.

 

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much you spend on the gift. All that matters is celebrating the love you have for that person... and for aviation. Don't stress wondering if the gift is perfect. If it is coming from you, it surely will be!

Do you have a favorite aviation-themed gift that you’ve received or a gift that you were proud to have found for someone else? Let us know in the comments below!

All prices are current at the time of posting. 
 

97-year-old WWII Naval Intelligence Officer takes first flight in a B-25J Mitchell

B-25 Mitchell - Show MeWorld War II era B-25J Mitchell lands on the runways of Bowman Field (KLOU) to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. World War II veterans are being treated to honor flights during WWII Operation Gratitude.

The B-25J Mitchell, affectionately nicknamed “Show Me”, is best known for its role during the raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. This raid, led by Col. Jimmy Doolittle, is often cited for boosting America’s morale after the attack on Pearl Harbor just months before.

“Show Me” flew from the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, which is located in St. Charles County Smartt Airport (KSET), to Louisville’s own Bowman Field Airport (KLOU) specifically for the celebration. 

WWII era B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Twenty veterans from all branches of the military were carried five at a time in “Show Me” across the rolling hills of the Bluegrass State.

 One of those passengers, Norma Lewis, admits she spent most of the flight with her hands clenched. Not in fear, however, but exhilaration.

“The engine is like a thousand violins in my ears,” she said before pausing. “The feeling of being in the air is just… wow.” Norma smiled, recounting the flight in “Show Me”.

At 97 years-young, as she will be sure to remind you, Norma has lived an altruistic life.

In 1943, at the age of 21, she joined the Navy. She was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina as part of a mission of tracking German submarines.

After three and a half years as a Naval Intelligence Officer, Norma retired from the Navy.

She came to Louisville in the 1960s as a sign language interpreter, something she picked up around the age of 10 after having been raised by her deaf aunt and uncle in Connecticut.

In 1977, “Mass of the Air”, a televised weekly mass on local news station WHAS, began to air. Norma volunteered for the program as an interpreter and has since been with the station for 40 years. 

WWII Operation of Gratitude is presented by Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter during the week of June 3-7 to recognize the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

Jeff Thoke, chairman of the board of Honor Flight Bluegrass, said: “I am thankful to be able to put on such a truly special event for these veterans.”

From left: Norma Lewis, Jeff Thoke, and Ernie Micka pose
in front of the B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Honor Flight Bluegrass was selected as a recipient of a $75,000 grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund, administered by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to fully sponsor the honor flight.

For more information, visit www.honorflightbluegrass.org

B-25J Mitchell lands at Bowman Field to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, June 2019

 

End of content

No more pages to load