Bill Lear wasn’t an aeronautical engineer when he started the Learjet project at age 61: he was an inventor and entrepreneur, having created the 8-track stereo, a variety of car radios, and the first jet autopilot.
In the early 1960s, Lear saw the potential need for a small executive transport, and founded the Swiss American Aviation Corporation (SAAC) to produce the Learjet 23. The Learjet 23 was inspired by the FFA P-16, a proposed fighter jet for Switzerland designed by Hans-Luzius Studer. Production of the Learjet 23 began in Wichita, Kanas, in February 1962, and the first flight took place on October 7, 1963.
The Learjet 23 revolutionized the business transport world and created a new market for fast and efficient small jet transports.
The Museum of Flight’s Learjet 23 sits outside the Restoration Center at the entrance gate to Paine Field and helps visitors to find the facility.