Ever since the first Learjet took to the air in 1963, these sleek, agile business jets have turned heads and quickened pulses. The aura surrounding Bombardier Learjet aircraft, however, is a result of more than their undeniable ramp appeal. The Learjet’s introduction into service sparked an aviation revolution that birthed a multibillion-dollar industry and gave wings to corporate America.
At the time of the launch of the first Learjet, Model 23, conventional wisdom held that the market for business aircraft would peak at 300 planes. Inventor William (Bill) P. Lear argued the number was more like 3,000, but even his estimate proved conservative. More than 10,000 corporate jets already operate worldwide, and forecasts call for more than 5,000 additional aircraft by 2012.
Learjet aircraft have served the corporate aviation market for 40 years, delighting owners and pilots with their performance, comfort, technology, and styling. Their durability, speed, and high-altitude capability have also made them the aircraft of choice for a wide range of special missions, including air ambulance services and aerial photography. Much of the air-to-air footage seen in movies over the past three decades, including the exciting scenes of F-14 fighters in Top Gun, were shot from cameras mounted in Learjet aircraft. They have been used worldwide for air defense, reconnaissance, military training, and high-altitude mapping. U.S. Navy and Air Force test pilots train in Learjet aircraft. Finally, they have long been the aircraft of choice for the jet set, a term applied to early Learjet owners.