You can't mention the success of the Lear Jet program without mentioning Moya Lear. Born of humble circumstances, she had watched her father grow from an office clerk to the most famous comedian in vaudeville.
At 25 and never married, she was working backstage for he father in New York when the thrice married 38 year old Bill Lear swept her off her feet. They would be married for 36 years.
Moya chronicled her life in an autobiography (it's a good read!). As much about Bill as her, they had lots of soaring highs and a few lows. A classy and gracious lady, she was aware of Bill's transgressions and did not let them poison her life. She dearly loved Bill and her four children. According to her biography, Bill was focused on other areas and was not the worlds greatest father. Moya tried to make up for Bill's shortcomings by becoming the worlds best mom.
After selling Lear Jet, they briefly moved to California before finally settling down in the River House on the banks of the Truckee River just outside of Reno, Nevada. It was from this base that Bill would try for another home run. He would stay in the headlines with plans to produce a steam driven bus, an Indy 500 race car, and the all composite Learfan, a twin-turbine driving a single pusher-prop. The credibility he had developed with the Lear Jet program helped fuel the media. All of the projects were destined to fail depleting the $35 million they received from the sale of Lear Jet.
During this period, he also did some advance design work on a cabin class business jet he had named the Learstar 600. More important he had a launch customer, Federal Express. Bill lacked funding to do another jet so he went looking for somebody that could.
Canadair had a factory and access to Canadian government funds but did not have a product. Bill sold the concept and the airplane was renamed the Challenger. He received a few million plus a $50,000 royalty on the delivery of each Challenger "and all of its derivatives."
Bill spent $13 million developing an airplane weighing 12,500 lbs. Canadair spent $1.4 billion to deliver an airplane that weighed 25,000 lbs. Canadair continued their losing ways subsidized by the Canadian government until the program was acquired by Bombardier. New models were brought out, the program was put on better footing. Bill and after his death Moya, continued to collect the $50,000 per unit royalty.
One of the Challenger derivatives was to become the Regional Jet that would revolutionize air transport. Bombardier tried to escape the payments but the contract was pretty clear. They settled the issue with MOYA for a one time lump payment of a reported $73 million. Bill would have been proud of Moya for pulling that one off.