Learjet 35 Visits the Cape Airport

Thursday, July 17, 2008
Learjet Model 35 at KCGI

Sometime in 1966 or so, I noticed a newspaper article about John Glenn making a visit to a city in Northern Illinois. He was still a highly sought after celebrity following the Mercury Seven Space Flights that had him become the first American Astronaut to orbit the Earth. I didn't remember the city, or the occasion for the visit, but I did remember the airplane. John Glenn flew in a Learjet.

That was it...as an impressionable 12 year-old-kid...I knew from then on that any legitimate American Hero just had to do his traveling in a Learjet. Dime Stores (remember them?) had plastic models of the pioneering business jet, and I logged a fair amount of time hand-flying mine around my backyard. With it's fuel tanks mounted out at the tips of it wings and it's racy "T" tail, it was right at home in my airplane box, where I also hangared a plastic F-104 Starfighter...it too with large tip-tanks and "T" tail. TOO cool!!!!

Bill Lear expanded the production of his civilian hot-rod jet into larger versions with more seating capacity, and Gates eventually moved the fuel into the fuselage, replacing the tip-tanks with turned up "wing-lets". I'm not sure if John Glenn had an opinion on the matter, but I didn't like it! Learjets just ought to have tip-tanks.

This Lear 35 spent some time with us recently, and I captured a few images for the photo album. It can be a sobering reminder of your age when one of these older jets taxies up with faded paint, blocked out windows, and it's luxurious interior long-since gutted to make space for crates and pallets. Yep...the Limo eventually becomes a cargo van!

The Learjet in the photos was decked out to carry passengers, and it's crew ordered some fuel before departing on another leg of their charter flight.

While I admire the lines of Gulf Streams, Citations, and the current crop of mini-jets with their cruise-missile engines, they still don't stack up to the low, fast lines of this 1960's bred racehorse.

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