Learjet was a company that produced business jets for both military and civilian appliations. It was orinally called the Swiss American Aviation Corporation when it was founded by William Powell Lear Jr. in the late 1950’s. Today, it is a subsidiary of Bombardier and goes by the name of Bombardier Learjet Family.
The Learjet was originally a ground-attack fighter aircraft by the Swiss. The first Learjet ever flew in 1955 as a prototype and testing continued up to 1958. Unfortunately, the third prototype crashed. The order for 100 units was cancelled because of this. Of course it wasn’t called a Learjet then but the FFA P-16.
Bill Lear wasn’t a man who gives up easily. He used the existing design to come up with a business jet model. In 1962, the tools required to build the aircraft were bought and transferred to Wichita, Kansas where the building of the first business Learjet began in 1963. The company was then given a new name – the Lear Jet Corporation.
The first production model Learjet, the Learjet 23, was delivered in October 1964. Soon after, Lear Jet Corporation became a publicly-owned company. Several models were added to the company’s line up. In 1966, the company again took a new name, Lear Jet Corporation.
Bill Lear owned 60% of the company which he sold to the Gates Rubber Company in 1967. The company then merged with Gates Aviation in 1969 and took became Gates Learjet Corporation.
It was 1984 when Gates Learjet took the endeavor of putting up an Aerospace Division. This affected the production of their business jets. In fact, by the end of the year, the company stopped producing business jets to reduce inventory. In 1986, the company’s headquarters was moved to Tucson and the production of business jets resumed on both Wichita and Tucson shops.
In 1985, Gates Learjet got the contract to make parts for the main engines of the Space Shuttle.
In 1987, with the Gates Learjet being bought by Integrated Acquisition, the company again changed its name to Learjet Corporation. All production was moved backed to Wichita by 1989.
In 1990 Bombardier Aerospace bought Learjet Corporation was then named Bombardier Learjet Company.
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