Funny enough, the industry of aviation started as a private project, since aircraft weren’t able to carry more than a couple of passengers, however, it grew and developed into a billion-dollar industry, with the amazing private planes we all know today.
Nonetheless, most of us don’t really know how it all began, the real origins, and how these planes turned into the aircraft we know. This being said, today we will tell you all about it and give you the scoop on this story, so please take your seat and fasten your seat belt, as we’re about to lift off.
Before we start, we’ll give you your answer right away, even though you might discover later that it is a bit more complex than a simple name!
Who Invented Private Planes?
The person who invented private planes was Sir Francis Whittle, with contributions by Dr. Hans Von Ohain, in the 1930s.
What Are Private Planes?
Private jets, also known as business jets, were designed to be a transportation method for small groups. Initially, they were mostly tailored for businessmen, but over the years, they have been used for leisure, as well. They can be purchased or simply charted for a couple of hours or a trip.
These planes or jets can be used by companies, when in need to go from one place to another, urgently – for example, the FBI – but they can also be owned by simple individuals who like to pilot their own jet or hire a flight crew and fly in style. Most of these planes come with their own pilot and crew to assist the passengers with anything they need, so it ends up being a more personal service that showcases the quality and luxury of a private plane.
Even though it is common to think of private planes as something made for millionaires, there are many models, brands, shapes, and sizes, all within different price ranges. Now that we know what they are, let’s find out who invented the first private jet.
Private Jets: The Beginning
Back in the 1930s, the British inventor Dr. Hans Von Ohain and Sir Francis Whittle created the first-ever plans for private jets, being the ones that set the wheel in motion. Both had a major contribution, as Whittle was the first to get it patented, while Ohain was the first to get his private jet to take off successfully. These two are the ones who made the private jet idea come to life.
For their era, it was completely revolutionary and a huge step for the aviation industry. The industry gained popularity and, back then, only those with real affluence could own one, for about $1 million. Today the prices are much higher in total amount but remember that the value of $1 back then was extremely different from today – $100 in 1930 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1,782.70 today. These tremendous costs are one of the reasons why private jet charters were introduced.
However, the jet industry needed time to perfect itself, and to learn more about engines, aircraft, and all things related. More than 20 years later, in 1957, the JetStar was released – the first business jet able to take 12 people,(10 passengers and 2 crew members) and with this, the game began.
Different companies decided to bring their take into the industry, creating their own private jets during the 50s and 60, however, it was in 1963 that a massive discovery was made, by Bill Lear. He created the fastest and lightest private jet to date, the Learjet23, which was inspired by the German military fighter jet. Only 3 years later, Gulfstream took its turn and created a large cabin private jet, with the possibility of carrying 19 passengers.
When we go all the way to the 1990s, it was here that these jets began to conquer the world, all due to NetJet, Warren Buffett, and Richard Santulli. During these years, a new wave of newer, bigger, better, faster, and more luxurious private jets arrived, like Cessna, Dassault, Bombardier, Gulfstream, Hawker, and many more.
The First Private Plane
Even though Ohain and Whittle came up with the original idea, they only had the first private plane concept, which means the first official private plane was delivered to the world by the Lockheed corporation, the Jetstar, flown for the first time in 1957. Fun fact: Elvis Presley owned 2 JetStar jets.
This jet was able to hold 10 passengers and 2 crew members, but its popularity wasn’t enough back then. Only when the Learjet 23 was released in 1963 and took off, we saw the market go the same way. It was a smaller one, only able to carry between 4 to 6 people during a flight, but it was really a fan favorite and could fly at a high speed. It’s amazing how in today’s days there are still some models of the Learjet 23 being used – a true winner!
Who Owned The First Private Jet?
While there’s no particular owner for the first private jet, these were designed to suit the government, as they needed a small utility jet. After being approved, the company saw an opportunity to take it to the market, in case any individual wanted to purchase it for personal use.
These jets served a greater purpose in American history, as the US military ordered 16 JetStars and gave their own designation “C-140”, with the VIP ones being the “VC-140”. American presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, among others, used these jets. At the Aviation History & Technology Center, there’s displayed a JetStar from 1964, owned by the Union Carbide Corporation, for anyone who wants to see it.
Private jets are so common these days, as we see them in TV shows, films, and even in airports, but there’s just so much to know about them! Their history is fascinating and worth reading about. Hopefully, this article helped you learn more about the private jet origins and their importance throughout history.