The Man Behind The Learjet*



Here at Angel MedFlight, we often share photos and details about our Learjet 60s and 35s. We use these amazing jets as our Air Ambulance Fleet to transport our patients in comfort and at nearly the speed of sound! But we haven’t shared much about the history of the Learjet or its inventor, William Powell (Bill) Lear.  Lear was born on June 26, 1902. He quit high school and joined the U.S. Navy where he was an “instructor in wireless.”

After the Navy, Lear worked as a radio engineer and inventor, developing amplifiers and speakers for Magnavox with a goal of making the units smaller. In 1964 Lear developed the Learjet Stereo 8-track cartridge. Lear also experimented with a closed circuit turbine engine to power cars.

In 1931 Lear developed his interest in aviation when he bought a plane for $2,500 from a lady in Dearborn, Michigan. He went on to develop auto pilot systems and general aviation radios for aircraft flight panels.

Lear later founded his first aircraft manufacturing company in Switzerland and began trying to turn the P-16 fighter into a light business jet. In the 1970’s Lear developed projects like the Lear Foxjet, the Very Light Jet (VLJ) and an interesting concept, the LearAvia, a pusher-style propeller aircraft powered by twin turbo fans. Learjet Corporation opened in Wichita, KS in 1962 and in 1963 they began production of the first Learjet 23, an eight passenger business jet. Many models followed and by 1975 the Lear Corporation had sold their 500th jet. Learjet later merged with Gates Aviation and was then purchased by Bombardier Aerospace in 1990. Bombardier developed the Learjet 60, which is part of Angel MedFlight’s fleet. We thank you Bill Lear for being a true visionary and pioneer.


*Angel MedFlight currently utilizes the services of sole and exclusive FAA F.A.R. Part 135 vendors, such as AeroJet Services, LLC (License Number: J7EA116I).

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