NBAA Convention News

Sabreliner celebrates its silver anniversary

 - September 30, 2008, 7:48 AM

Sabreliner aircraft owners and operators are gathering tonight to recognize those among them who have flown one or more of the iconic business jets for 25 years or longer. Operators and industry officials are invited to attend the Sabreliner celebration being held at the Portofino Bay Hotel. Sabreliner Corporation is also celebrating its 25th year as an independent company.

“For a quarter century or longer, these owners and operators have chosen Sabreliner aircraft either as the only aircraft in their fleets or as an integral part of their fleets,” said F. Holmes Lamoreux, Sabreliner’s chairman and chief executive officer. “They recognize that the legendary stability, comfort, reliability and handling performance of Sabreliners remain as valuable today as they were when their aircraft was manufactured. And their steadfast loyalty to one brand of aircraft is simply remarkable in today’s multiple-choice environment.”

The last Sabreliner delivered, a Model 65, rolled off the assembly line in 1981. The first civilian Sabreliner aircraft, a Model 40 with its distinctive teardrop-shaped cabin windows and “eyebrow” cockpit windows, flew in 1963. It is still flying today as Sabre One, the corporate jet of Sabreliner Corp, which a group of investors formed in 1983 after acquiring the business and all assets of the Sabreliner Division of Rockwell International.

The Model 40 is generally recognized to be the world’s first twin-engine business jet. It was based on the military T-39, which first flew as a prototype in 1958. Production of five main civilian models extended from 1963 through 1981.

“This aircraft has been an outstanding platform to operate with excellent range and speed, a very well built airframe and a proven design,” said Gary Gilberts, flight department manager for Van Nuys, Calif.-based Fitness Management Corp., which purchased its Sabre 65 in 1983. “And, because of advancements and upgrades, it’s better now than when we got it.”

Fitness Management and its two primary pilots, Lynn Sloan and Gary Nickell, have flown the eight-seat white-, burgundy- and grey-trimmed Sabre 65 about 200 hours a year for 25 consecutive years throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

Another company that will be attending the event is Birmingham, Ala.-based Drummond Coal. It took delivery of its brand-new Sabre 60 in 1975 and has been flying it ever since, even though the company fleet now includes a helicopter, two Twin Otters and a Gulfstream IV.  

Although Sabreliner aircraft have been out of production for at least 27 years, Sabreliner Corp. continues to maintain the fleet from the same Perryville, Mo. facility where many of the aircraft were assembled. This year readers of Aviation International News rated the company third among older business jet manufacturers for quality of fleet support. Approximately 267 civilian Sabreliners remain in service today, including 22 that are flown by the U.S. Navy.