The history of private air travel

Privately owned airplanes for the well-to-do were being sold as early as the 1920s and 1930s. The first planes to be fitted out luxuriously were Beech Staggerwings, a bi-plane with the upper wing mounted slightly behind the lower. These were upholstered in leather and mohair with seating for several passengers.

Beech continued to lead the way with the Twin Beech in 1937 being marketed specifically for business travel. In 1958 the Grumman Gulfstream turboprop came on the market with a million-dollar price tag.

The most memorable entry into private air travel was that of the Learjet in 1963. The name Lear has become almost synonymous with executive travel.

Nevertheless, propeller aircraft travel did not instantly come to an end. Beech presented the King Air in 1964 to customers, and followed it up with other models which altogether commandeered most of the private turbo-prop air business.

The range of private jets has increased tremendously. With the introduction of the Gulfstream IV in 1985 the potential travel distance jumped from 4174 miles to an impressive 7223 miles. This craft was fitted luxuriously with oak and leather, held up to 19 passengers, and could travel much faster than commercial planes.

It is even possible for large businesses to own converted airliners. For those that need to move larger groups of people throughout the global community, this may be a viable option The Cessna Citation X is a midsize business jet with impressive speeds of Mach 0.9 (90% of the speed of sound), faster than commercial aircraft. Modern private jets are capable of international travel.

Although still limited mostly to Fortune 500 companies and the very wealthy, private jets have become common enough that they have been bestowed with the nickname “bizjet.” Approximately 11,000 business jets are owned worldwide; most are owned by United States companies, with European ownership next. Asian and Central American ownership is a growing segment.

The lines between commercial and private flight are occasionally becoming blurred. When Aloha Airlines ceased operations in 2008, Blue Star Jets, an airline charter service, saw a huge increase in demand for it’s services. Stranded and frustrated vacationers readily paid for custom service and views of volcanoes from private planes.