Aircraft Was The First Built Specifically For Business Travel
SÃO PAULO, Brazil, August 14, 2013 — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today celebrated the 55th anniversary of the first Gulfstream I (GI) flight. The twin-engine turboprop was the first aircraft specifically designed and built for business travel.
“The GI laid the foundation for the state-of-the-art Gulfstream business jets that we deliver to customers today,” said Larry Flynn, president, Gulfstream. “The GI, which was created by our predecessor, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co., was ahead of its time in many respects, including performance, comfort, versatility and reliability. More than 50 of these aircraft are still in operation around the world, a testament to the aircraft’s tremendous reliability.”
The company delivered 200 GIs between 1958 and 1969, when production ceased. The aircraft was used by many U.S. corporations for business travel, but also saw service with five U.S. government agencies and all branches of the U.S. armed forces. Several of the first Gulfstream aircraft were later converted into commuter airliners.
Today, more than 20 GIs operate in the U.S. Several other countries have GIs on their aircraft registry, including Canada, Mexico, Portugal and South Africa. The largest fleet, with nine aircraft, is operated by Phoenix Air Group Inc., an international aircraft services company based in Cartersville, Ga.
“Most of the principals at Phoenix Air Group would agree that the GI platform has been an intricate and essential part of the growth and prosperity of our company,” said Bob Tracey, vice president, Phoenix Air Group. “What I always say to individuals who can’t believe these aircraft are 50 years old and still flying is this: These aircraft were built by people who were assembling fighter aircraft 13 or 15 years earlier. They knew what they were doing and took a lot of pride in it. They built these aircraft to last, and they have.”
The GI’s maiden flight took place Aug. 14, 1958, over Bethpage, N.Y., the site of Grumman headquarters. At the controls were Grumman test pilots Carl Alber and Fred Rowley. After approximately 800 hours of additional testing, the GI received U.S. Federal Aviation Agency certification on May 21, 1959. Shortly thereafter, Grumman delivered the first GI to Sinclair Oil, which flew it out of the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, a New York suburb.
The GI accommodates 12 passengers and has a maximum speed of 350 miles per hour (563 kilometers per hour) at 25,000 feet (7,620 m). It is powered by twin Rolls-Royce Dart engines and has a range of 2,200 miles (3,541 km). Among its distinguishing features are large, oval windows, which have become a Gulfstream trademark, a low-wing platform and a basic fuselage cross section that continued through four decades of Gulfstream jets.
“The GI is a very important part of our history,” said Scott Neal, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, Gulfstream. “It laid the foundation for what has turned into a long and successful line of business jets. Today, we have more than 2,100 aircraft in service and our in-production fleet – the G650, G550, G450, G280 and G150 – comprises the industry’s safest, most reliable and technologically advanced aircraft.”