History of the Lear Jet, From First Flight to Its Famous Round the World Record

An Archive of scores of historical documents, some unpublished, showing great moments in its development and marketing

Purchase $2,000

This material was acquired directly from the Lear heirs and has never before been offered for sale.

On October 7, 1963, Lear Jet, a company founded by Bill Lear, started test flights on the Learjet 23, the first mass-produced business jet. The first Lear Jet was sold in 1963; it could carry...

Read More

History of the Lear Jet, From First Flight to Its Famous Round the World Record

An Archive of scores of historical documents, some unpublished, showing great moments in its development and marketing

This material was acquired directly from the Lear heirs and has never before been offered for sale.

On October 7, 1963, Lear Jet, a company founded by Bill Lear, started test flights on the Learjet 23, the first mass-produced business jet. The first Lear Jet was sold in 1963; it could carry eight passengers at 560 mph and cost about $650,000 fully equipped – about $400,000 less than its competitors at the time.

There was nothing on the civilian market that could come close to its performance. Suddenly anybody could own a jet and fly as fast as the airlines. The Lear Jet wasn’t the first civilian jet for sale, but the jets that came before were bigger, much more expensive and never came close to offering the same convenience as the smaller jets from Wichita. Lear Jet set the bar high for every jet that came after it.

To demonstrate the capacity of the Lear Jet, Lear sent his son, pilot John Lear, and others, to fly the aircraft around the world, setting a record, and operating without additional fuel and within factory guidelines. The Smithsonian, which has the oldest surviving Lear Jet aircraft, notes, “Between May 23 and 26, 1966, the first Model 24, also the 150th production Lear Jet built, flew around the world and set or broke eighteen international aviation records. With Henry Beaird as pilot-in-command, Rick King and John O. Lear as alternates, and John Zimmerman as an observer, the flight of this aircraft covered a straight-line distance of 22,992.8 statute miles in 50 hours, 39 minutes of flight.”

An archive of material from the Lear family, belonging to Lear’s son, documenting important events in the history of the Lear Jet.

Selections from the archive:

The First Test Flight of the Lear Commercial Jet, 1963

– 3 Documents; the results of the first three test flights of the Lear Jet; Lear’s retained, printed copies of the reports, including the very first flight, dated October 7, 1963; “Highlights from flight test report… First flight, Lear Jet Model 23…”

The Breaking of the Round the World Record

– Pilot John Lear’s handwritten notes from on board the Lear Jet that set the round-the-world record, locations landed, who was flying, and conditions on the ground and in the air;

– “First Round the World Lear Jet Trip,” John Lear’s copy of the “Proposed Route and Scheduling,” with notes on the actual landings, take-offs, etc.;

– Tens of original photographs from the trip, showing the planning, flight, and return phase;

– Press releases relating to the around the world flight;

– A large-format poster commissioned by Lear to promote their product and tout the flight around the world; and

– A file of materials relating to the Aeronautics Board’s investigation into two accidents of Lear Jets in 1965, with notations by John Lear.

This material was acquired directly from the Lear heirs and has never before been offered for sale.

Purchase Now $2,000

Frame, Display, Preserve

Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.

Learn more about our Framing Services