Lear Fans

Early efforts at composite business aircraft did not go smoothly.  The Beech Starship ended up being a burden on the company and they bought most of the planes back and destroyed them.  Prior to the Starship, there was the Lear Fan.  A project started by Bill Lear and continued after his death, the idea was a composite aircraft with two engines driving a single pusher propeller.  The light airframe and plenty of power was to provide great performance.  Sadly, the early approach to composite design did not go smoothly, nor did the gearbox design to combine the two engines to one propeller.

The project folded after three prototypes had been built.  All three still remain and I have seen two of the three.  One lives in the Museum of Flight here in Seattle while another is in the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas.  The third one is in Oklahoma City so I am a bit annoyed I never knew that when I traveled there regularly.  Still, two out of three isn’t bad.  The single prop looks pretty chunky (the idea being that single engine handling was identical to twin engine handling) and I imagine the diameter had to be limited to avoid prop strike issues during rotation.  Overall, it is quite a neat looking design.  A shame it was a bit ahead of the technology curve when it was designed and built.

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