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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Lear Jet Corporation


Historical Note

Established in 1962, Lear Jet Corporation built the Learjet, a small executive transport jet, as well as the 8-track player.

In August 1962, Swiss American Aviation Corporation changed its name to Lear Jet Corporation (LJC) and relocated from St. Gallen, Switzerland to Wichita, Kansas. The SAAC-23 designed by SAAC became the Learjet Model 23.

The prototype Learjet Model 23 (N801L) made its first light on October 7, 1963 but a few months later, on June 4, 1964, N801L was destroyed, without injuries to crew, in a “forced landing” due to pilot error. Shortly after on July 31, 1964, the Model 23 was FAA type certificated. The first delivery of the Model 23 occurred on October 13, 1964 to Chemical & Industrial Corporation located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The FAA awarded the Model 23 its production certification, for highest quality control standards, on September 28, 1965. The Learjet Model 23 earned many achievements and set multiple records, including a successful 10 hour, 17 minute transatlantic flight from Wichita to Frankfurt, West Germany on April 17, 1965 and three speed records on May 21, 1965 when a Model 23 flew from Los Angeles to New York back to Los Angeles in 10 hours and 22 minutes.

In February 1965 Lear Jet Corporation formed the stereo division, which built the 8-track player, in Detroit, Michigan while the Wichita-based industrial division restructured to become the avionics division. LJC’s aircraft division announced two new models in October, 1965; the Learjet Model 24 and the Lear Liner Model 40 “for airlines and business markets.”

In 1966 the company rebranded to Lear Jet Industries and bought Brantley Helicopter Corporation (as a subsidiary). The Learjet Model 25 debuted in 1967. In April 1967 WPL sold his controlling shares of stock to Gates Rubber Co., although he still continued to serve on the Board of Directors. He and MOL resigned from the board in 1969 when the company merged with Gates Aviation Co. to become Gates Learjet Corporation.

In 1987, Gates Learjet was acquired by Integrated Acquisition and the next year the name was changed to Learjet Corporation. In 1990, Bombardier Aerospace purchased the Learjet Corporation and rebranded the company to Bombadier Learjet. As of 2021, an announcement to end production on all Learjets had been issued by the company.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Series IV. Swiss American Aviation Corporation, 1956-1965, 2000, undated

Scope and Contents: Swiss American Aviation Corporation Series IV: Swiss American Aviation Corporation (SAAC) is a fairly small series that documents WPL’s early efforts at an executive transport and private corporate aircraft, originally named the SAAC-23 although it would eventually become the Learjet Model 23. Some early concept and logistical materials present in the series pre-date the official 1960 start of the company, but most fall within SAAC’s 1960-1962 time period. Note that some materials related to SAAC...

Series V. Lear Jet Corporation, 1960-1974, 1984-1989, 1991-1992, 1999, undated

Scope and Contents: Lear Jet Corporation Series V: Lear Jet Corporation (LJC) primarily documents the development, production, and distribution of the Learjet Model 23 and Model 24, small and fast executive transport jets, with a lesser degree of coverage about the Lear Liner Model 40. Additionally there is a relatively small amount of information about LJC’s Stereo 8 Division, which designed, developed, and produced the 8-track audio tape cassette player for home, automobile, and personal use. The bulk...

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