Bill Lear brought his impossible dream to Wichita and willed it to life 50 years ago. Creating the first business jet put our world into a faster spin. Bringing movers and shakers face to face. Anytime. Anywhere. Bombardier celebrated the half-century anniversary of this iconic jet just as you’d expect. All out.

Telling an Epic Story

Bombardier entrusted us to chronicle the game-changing Learjet story – in a book and an environmental display. We felt gratitude and tremendous responsibility to get it right. The birth of the Learjet is part of our heritage as citizens of the Air Capital.

Learjet History Wall Display
Prescient words from Bill Lear, “If it looks good, it will fly good.”

Bombardier Learjet Book Cover
The Business Jet That Changed the World was created specifically and exclusively for the people of Bombardier Learjet.
Learjet Timeline Book Spread
The legendary Learjet 23 delivered speeds up to 552 miles per hour and sold for $595,000.

Genius-inventor Bill Lear originally planned to build and certify his plane in Geneva, but yanked everything to Wichita when things weren’t moving fast enough. Here on the Kansas prairie the pace quickened. He moved his fledgling team into a new facility in January 1963 and sat an audacious goal: to build the plane and get it in the air. In less than a year. The company motto: “Charge!”

Audacity Backed by Brilliance

The industry guffawed saying it would take 10 years and multiples of the capital Lear had to spend. But not only did the team achieve the impossible – following the first flight on Oct. 7, 1963, the Learjet 23 earned FAA type certification in a record-breaking 10 months. Even better, within a year the aircraft had generated more than 100 orders. It seemed everyone wanted a Learjet. Lear perhaps said it best: “The Learjet is more than a masterpiece. It is living proof of what free men can still do in a free world.”

Within the book’s spreads, the story unfolds from the Learjet 20 series up to the Learjet 85. The people of Bombardier Learjet possessed the imagination, talent and vision to start a revolution. And half a century later, the people of Bombardier keep dreaming and pushing boundaries. The legend flies on. The revolution never ends.

1963 Learjet at NBAA 2013
The Bombardier static display at Henderson Executive Airport served as a NBAA show highpoint. A major draw: Clay Lacy’s original Learjet 23, flown by test pilots Hank Beaird and Bob Hagan on that historic day in October 1963. Retro touches – from vintage luggage to ’60s-inspired flight-attendant uniforms – added to the vibe. Bill Lear would have approved.