Both authors have an impressive engineering background and are highly qualified to write this book which traces Learjet throughout the development of the company and all the Learjet models that have been produced.
The first setup was to build an air force fighter but soon this was cancelled and the first engineering steps were made to develop a fast business jet that made its first flight in October 1963, far ahead of its time. Bill Lear the owner of the company took huge financial risks but realised the first successful business jet that cleared the road for the present worldwide production of private jets. The Lear company (read Bill Lear) patented many new ideas that made this jet so successful. This included many applications like aerobatics, military use, aerial photography, ambulance flights and of course transport of VIP’s and persons.
In the book all these applications are extensive described and highlighted with many beautiful coloured pictures of the different types and applications. Also drawings of the modifications and diagrams of production technicalities are included in this extensive bookwork which includes 365 pages. Some more interesting facts that are presented to the reader are for example:
- Neil Armstrong set 5 world records with the LJ (Learjet).
- Many air forces bought this plane and used it for target towing, patrolling, cartographic, testing and training crews in electronic warfare and counter measures and personal transport.
- Hollywood stars used the Learjet and made it well known amongst the rich and famous like Frank Sinatra, Arnold Palmer, John Denver etc.
- The well known Howard Hughes died during a charter flight in a Learjet from Mexico to Houston.
A paragraph in this book with beautiful photo’s is dedicated to aerial photography and cinematography using the LJ and lifting this specialisation to a higher level with persons like the famous air-to-air photographer Paul Bowen and Clay Lacy with his company specialised in this kind of aerial work. The famous movie Top Gun was shoot by one of his LJ models. He participated also in many airline commercials. A tragedy happened during a photo session with the LJ were the XB-70A Valkyrie collided with a Starfighter and both planes crashed killing the crews.
There is more enjoyable to read like stories of drugs trafficking done by Learjets also involving famous Escobar, the drugs baron, and descriptions of incidents and their causes (the LJ is considered a hot rod and not easy to handle) and some famous events were the LJ played a prominent role. The last part of the book is containing stories told by employees and test pilots during the production period of the Lear company; Some funny, some referring to mishaps and some highlighting the negative influence of governmental agencies like the FAA.
This book is a monument for the Learjet and Bill Lear written with an unbelievable amount of technical information supported by visual printed content, drawings of modifications and a great amount of photographs. A must for every LJ pilot or business pilot and their worldwide users. The authors must have worked on this for years because all technicalities are well researched and detailed described. I am sure competition must have acquired this book also. The company delivered the last Learjet in May 2021 having produced 3056 models.
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