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Archives at The Museum of Flight

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

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 may be within the series for its successor company, Lear Jet Corporation, due to its relocation and name change in 1962. Likewise, there may be a small amount of overlap for SAAC in the Lear, Inc. company series due to WPL’s transition from Lear, Inc. to SAAC.

The series is organized into five subseries, administrative records, correspondence, photographs, publicity materials, and technical files. Materials are generally, but not always, arranged by date, with undated items at the end of each series. When able, circa dates have been provided.

Subseries A: Administrative records includes a variety of documents, including an employee phone list and manual, as well as photocopies of motor vehicle titles for company cars in Kansas and Florida. Several assorted documents, originally housed together as “SAAC-23 documents,” are a mix of correspondence, financial records, progress reports, and diagrams related to the SAAC-23. Lastly some letters between WPL and Bob Chatley, dated 1962-1964, discuss business activities and the relocation from Switzerland to Wichita, Kansas.

Subseries B: Correspondence has a minimal amount of material from 1962 primarily regarding the possible relocation of the company to Missouri. One letter that is in French likely relates to Lear family status in Switzerland.

Subseries C: Photographs and Visual Materials includes 104 primarily 8x10” black-and-white photographs, four photographic postcards, and two small original paintings. Three of the photographic prints feature the FFA P-16, which was the design inspiration for the SAAC-23 executive jet. Eight photographs depict various company personnel and the Lears with journalists at a 1956 press conference in Geneva and the arrival of the Board of Directors in Switzerland, circa 1959. There are also 25 photographic reproductions of conceptual designs and artworks of the SAAC-23. Two small original acrylic paintings of the aircraft are also present. Also of note are 66 photographs which depict the construction of the SAAC-23 mock-up. Several include WPL and a few also include MOL.

Subseries D: Publicity materials is a very small subseries with just four clippings from 1961 related to the SAAC-23.

Subseries E: Technical files documents the design and development of the SAAC-23 and shows its relationship to the FAA P-16. Of particular interest is correspondence between Dr. Hans Studer, designer of the FFA P-16 and consultant on the SAAC-23, and WPL that discusses the “design goal” and production and design considerations. Related materials include site visit reports, diagrams, and research materials related to the design and manufacture of the SAAC-23. Note that some of these materials are in French and German.

Additional assorted correspondence touches on the production and parts needed. There are also letters between WPL and Hans Huf, an employee of SAAC affiliate company Aviation Development, Inc., which discuss various technical aspects, including the electrical system, but also include personal greeting cards for Easter and WPL’s birthday. Lastly, cutaway diagrams for both the FFA P-16 and the SAAC-23 are present.


  • 1956-1965, 2000, undated

Language of the Materials

Most materials are in English, but some materials are in other languages, including Bengali, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Romanian, and Spanish. When non-English language materials are present, it is noted on the individual folder.

Conditions Governing Access

A computer hard drive is not accessible, pending digital preservation procedures. The rest of the collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.


From the Collection: 285 Cubic Feet (190 legal size full-width document boxes (15 ½” x 10 ¼” x 5”), 2 legal size half-width document boxes (15 ½” x 10 ¼” x 2 ½”), 6 record cartons, 2 card boxes (12” x 4 ½” x 5 ½”), 9 oversize boxes (19” x 4” x 15”), 7 oversize boxes (20 ½” x 3" x 16 ½”), 7 oversize boxes (24 ½”x 3” x 20 ½”), 2 oversize boxes (40” x 2 ½” x 32”), 9 oversize rolled storage boxes (40” x 9” x 9”), 21 oversize folders (30” x 40”), 50 oversize folders (35 ¾” x 47 ¾”), 1 oversize folder (24” x 75”), 38 bagged rolled storage (60” x 5” x 5”), 1 Quadruplex tape (15 ¼” x 15 ½” x 3"))

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