While Gulfstream celebrates the 47th anniversary of the first flight of its first business jet this month, that very aircraft is in the process of becoming a museum piece, following a long service career. Grumman Gulfstream II S/N 0001 (built at the company’s Bethpage, N.Y. facility before the business jet division moved to Savannah), first flew on Oct. 2, 1966. After the certification flight-test program it was refurbished and sold to entrepreneur Robert Galvin, Motorola Corporation CEO, in 1970. The meticulously maintained twinjet, now known as N55RG, served as his private aircraft for 44 years, until his passing in 2011 at the age of 89.
Noting the historical significance of the aircraft–the direct ancestor of every Gulfstream jet since, right up to the company’s current G650 flagship–the Galvin family wished for it to be preserved in a museum. It was donated and flown to the Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina last year and will eventually serve as the centerpiece of an exhibit on business aviation. The airframe–which still bears the Grumman insignias–has less than 10,000 hours flight time, and while it received numerous equipment upgrades (such as new engines and a Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite) during its lifespan, it once again features original equipment. After the aircraft arrived at the museum, Gulfstream attached its original Rolls-Royce Spey 511 engines and reinstalled the original-issue avionics in the cockpit. According to museum president Shawn Dorsch, the aircraft is complete right down to its logbooks, original cockpit flashlights and cabin-service items. He expects the GII to be on display near the “Miracle on the Hudson” Airbus A320 by the end of next year.