The 50th anniversary yesterday of the maiden flight of the first Learjet–the Model 23, on Oct. 7, 1963–begged to be celebrated, and Bombardier obliged with gusto, holding two events at its main assembly facility in Wichita over the weekend. Invited were current and former employees and their families, several special guests and owners and operators who brought examples of almost every Learjet ever produced. Only the Learjet 55 was absent, as the aircraft planned for the celebration could not make it at the last minute.
Attracting the most attention at the main “Learjet 50 Years of Flight” event on Saturday were several 20-series Learjets, including a 23 owned and flown by Clay Lacy. Also turning heads was an even rarer Model 28–only five of which were built–flown to Wichita by LR Services of Allentown, Pa., which manages and operates the jet for its owner. Lacy also brought his Learjet 25, which was flown to Wichita by Tony Kvassay, the son of Alex Kvassay, who was also attended the event. The elder Kvassay, a well-known business jet salesman, worked for Learjet from 1965 to 1975.
Lacy, owner and CEO of Clay Lacy Aviation of Van Nuys, Calif., had his Learjet 23 repainted in its original paint scheme for the celebration, and made three fly-bys at the beginning of Saturday’s event. Along with the numerous customer Learjets on display, a number of Challengers and several experimental Learjets and Challengers graced the tarmac.