Bill Lear (1902 – 1978), the Founder of the Lear Jet Corporation in Wichita, Kansas, in the United States of America included a stopover in Colombo, Ceylon now Sri Lanka when he thought about sending his Learjet 24 around the world. He wanted a world record, so he dispatched a Learjet 24 N427LJ at 5.13 pm on May 23rd 1966 from Kansas in the United States of America. The Learjet made record breaking speed via Barcelona, Istanbul, Teheran and Karachi. They flew close to India on route to Sri Lanka. As the Learjet 24 was approaching the coast of Ceylon it ran short of fuel. The pilots headed for Colombo Airport just 500 feet above water. When the Learjet landed in Colombo it only had 100 lbs of fuel left on the aircraft. The delay in Colombo prevented them from establishing a world record of the business jet flying around the world. The Lear Jet flew on to Singapore from Colombo.
This was the first ever occasion of a business jet touching down in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The jet had travelled 23,993 miles in 50 hours 20 minutes.
The Bombardier Learjet 45 XR can now fly non-stop from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Bill Lear was also a gifted inventor – he invented the car radio and the 8-track tape. Stereo 8, commonly known as the eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape was used by Radio Ceylon and subsequently the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in the 1960s and 1970s. Sri Lankan broadcaster Vernon Corea has used the 8-track tape for his radio programmes. Bill Lear was also co-founder of Motorola.
Please read the book ‘The Planes of Wichita,’ for further information on the historic stopover in Ceylon:
Bill Lead and the founding of the Lear Jet: