The final aircraft designed by famed aeronautical genius William P. “Bill” Lear, the Lear Fan 2100 set new standards in business aircraft structures in 1977. Billed as the world’s first “plastic” business aircraft, it is constructed almost entirely of advanced carbon fiber composites, advertised as weighing half as much, but being twice as strong as equivalent aluminum. Its design maximized fuel efficiency with laminar flow maintained over the first 40% of the wing and twin buried PT-6 turbo-shaft engines driving a single centerline pusher propeller aft of its distinctive “Y” tail.
When Mr. Lear died of leukemia in May 1978, his wife Moya resolved to honor his final wish and “finish it.” With funding from Oppenheimer & Company for its development in Reno, Nevada, and the British Government for its production in Northern Ireland, the prototype’s construction began in early 1980 with a goal of first flight by year’s end. Dennis Newton and Hank Beaird flew serial 001 on New Year’s Day 1981 though the British Government declared it December “32,” 1980 in order to stay within the specified one year contract! Although a record 270 orders were achieved, LearAvia’s bankruptcy ended the program in May 1985. This aircraft is serial number 003, the first Lear Fan manufactured to the expected production standard and one of only two remaining. It first flew in June of 1982 and completed 970 flight test hours without serious problems. It and serial 009 (later expended in crash worthiness tests by the FAA) were cleared to carry out the final FAA Certification tests before funding ran out.
This aircraft was donated by The EAA Air Venture Museum of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and restored by the men and women of The Frontiers of Flight Museum.