Bill Lear’s Radical Last Airplane the Focus of Test Pilot’s Jan. 1 Lecture at the Museum of Flight

. December 18, 2010 . 0 Comments

Pilot recalls flying the Lear Fan 2100 prototype in 1981

SEATTLE, – On Jan. 1 at The Museum of Flight, test pilot Dennis Newton will lecture about the development of entrepreneur Bill Lear’s last project — the radical, Lear Fan 2100 Futura.

Newton is the former Chief Test Pilot of Lear Fan Corp., and was at the controls of the Lear Fan prototype during its January 1981 maiden flight. In the 1960s Bill Lear developed the iconic Lear Jet. In the late 1970s he took the concept of high-speed personal travel in another direction with the Lear Fan.  The sleek Lear Fan was designed as a medium-size business aircraft that could cruise at jet speeds with far lower operating costs than jets because of its lightweight composite structure and unique, turboprop propulsion. When Lear died before his marvel of aviation technology became a reality, his widow, Moya, and Lear’s employees honored his final wish to finish and fly the airplane. The lecture will be at 2 p.m., and is free with admission to the Museum. Following the presentation, Newton will conduct a personal tour of the prototype Lear Fan that is on display in the Museum.

Free souvenir scarves!
The first 100 adults attending the Dennis Newton lecture will receive a free Lear Fan scarf commissioned by Moya Lear and designed by Frankie Welch. Now collector’s items, the scarves were produced as keepsakes of the airplane project in the early 1980s. Welch achieved notoriety for her fashion designs for American presidents and other political figures during the 1960s and 1970s.

The Lear Fan 2100 Futura
The plane was one of the first high-performance aircraft using composite construction (30 years before the flight of the first all-composite airliner, the Boeing 787). It also had a novel propulsion system using two turbine engines driving a single propeller in the tail. Three Lear Fans were made, but the aircraft was not put into production.

Image: Lear Fan prototype on display at The Museum of Flight. Ted Huetter/The Museum of Flight, Seattle.

The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, Exit 158 off Interstate 5 on Boeing Field half-way between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for active military, $8 for youth 5 to 17, and free for children under 5. Group rates are available. Admission on the first Thursday of the month is free from 5 to 9 p.m. courtesy of Wells Fargo. For general Museum information, please call 206-764-5720 or visit

Category: Science Technology

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