The Lear, as it is affectionately known to its proud owners and contented passengers, is not just an object of prestige, for wellheeled frequent flyers it is an absolute must. Business moguls cannot do without the plane, at least if they are to pursue their global business activities flexibly and with as little time loss as possible.
The “Learjet“ brand stands for a superlative business travel aircraft. It is not just top managers that appreciate the Learjet, Hollywood stars also use the speedy plane to jet home to their families from distant filming locations. The advantages of this flying limousine are evident: no matter where you wish to go, there is always a direct connection. Spontaneous trips are no problem, long check-in and check-out procedures are a thing of the past. Naturally, freedom above the skies comes at a price. For example, the new Learjet 75 costs around 13.5 million US dollars, a used 45XR, the previous model, will still cost around three million US dollars. And: proud Learjet owners also face considerable further expenses for servicing, hangar fees, fuel and personnel. But then no-one said that boundless liberty was cheap. However, those who have it certainly have no desire to go without it. Even critics, who have no enthusiasm for aerial joyrides in the age of global warming, are unable to spoil the fun of hardened Learjet travellers. What makes the unusual business planes particularly attractive is their independence from major airports. The 75 requires a runway length of just 811 metres to ensure a safe landing, with 1,353 metres needed for take-off. Even a Learjet trip has its limits, and these are determined by the range of the respective model. For example, the Learjet 75 has a top speed of 860 km/h, over long distances around 801 km/h, enabling distances of around 3,600 and 3,700 kilometres to be achieved. There is adequate space on board for a maximum of nine passengers and two pilots. Of course, longer distances are also possible with a stopover. By the way, the high life is guaranteed in a Learjet. Scarcely any other passenger aircraft flies as high. The small and rela tively light Lear can achieve a maximum altitude of around 15,545 metres.
CLEVER HIGH-FLYER: WILLIAM P. LEAR
What do a car radio and a Learjet have in common? They were both invented by the same person: William P. Lear. The multi-talented American was born in 1902 in the US state of Missouri. Lear left school early, joining the navy instead. Perhaps it was his time as a radio operator during the First World War that awakened his passion for technical inventions. During his lifetime William P. Lear registered over one hundred patents. For example, in 1920 he invented the first practicable car radio, together with Elmer Wavering. This was followed by inventions in the field of aerospace, including the first auto pilot. Lear took an interest in aviation, parti cularly in the development of business aircraft. In 1949 he founded the company Lear, Incorporated, in California, before relocating to Switzerland in 1960 to promote the production and marketing of a twin-jet business aircraft. However, just two years later Lear decided to return to the USA. He assembled “his“ plane in Wichita, Kansas, and named it Learjet No 1. In 1963 he founded the Lear Jet Corporation, the same year saw the first Learjet take to the skies. Sometime later series production of the Learjet 23 began, followed by the models 24 and 25. The company was expanded in order to market the planes worldwide. A second com pany, Gates Rubber Company, joined, resulting in the establishment of the jointly-owned Gates Aviation. In November 1968 the company delivered its 200th plane. A success that William P. Lear was un doubtedly very proud of. Nevertheless, in 1969 he left the company to spend time with his wife, his four children and further inventions, dying in May 1978.
Following the departure of William P. Lear from the business the company was transformed into Gates Learjet. Faster and more efficient planes continued to roll off the production line. The Lear was even the first business aircraft to be able to take off from unmetalled runways. This made the planes even more flexible in use – and even more coveted. The most recent corporate change occurred in 1990, when the Canadian company Bombardier Aerospace took over the company. Bombardier constructs and designs superlative transport craft, including aircraft and trains.
Flying Learjet is an experience. At a price, naturally. What do you get for that? You save a lot of time and stress – and that is priceless.
Text: Petra Dietz