For some, working at Lear Jet was a job and a paycheck. For others it was an honor to be part of a team creating such an exciting product.

We knew it was not just another airplane. The high thrust to weight ratio and a normal cruising altitude of 41,000 ft meant it would out perform the jet airliners which were just entering the fleet and would only cruise above 35,000 ft on very long flights. Plus, the Lear Jet was a gorgeous beast. Many said it looked like it was going 500 mph on the ramp.

The employees were focused on a goal. Everyone was too busy for politics...the level of camaraderie was extremely remains a great source of pride to have been associated with the project and the Lear family.

When the airplane was under development it was like working in a zoo. Scores of celebrities, politicians and aviation giants would come and visit us. Frank Sinatra, Richard Nixon and aviation giants, Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Willie Messerschmitt, Wernher von Braun, to name a few. Twenty years later, it would be Neil Armstrong who would spend a lot of time at the factory. And if golf is your bag, both Jack Nicklaus and Arnie Palmer were regular visitors during the Gates era.

For me, Lear Jet provided almost unlimited opportunity. A great place to grow, a great place to learn. I met my wife there in 1964. We worked together for four years, married in 1974. Thank you Adrian Pavlick.

The company provided the opportunity to travel to over 40 countries, log over 1,000 hours in the right seat flying all over the world, a few close calls, a few more adventures, some cloak and dagger activities, negotiate over $60 million in sales of Learjet aircraft, mostly the ones modified for special mission applications. The largest deal being a $23 million contract with the Finnish Air Force.      ADVENTURES AND MIS-ADVENTURES

In 1978, I went to Linden Blue, Learjet's general manager with a request to take an old test airplanes and convert it to a Special Mission Demonstrator. Linden said, "If it is worth doing with an old airplane, it is worth doing with a new airplane. Give me a written proposal I can take to the board". I did, he did and the board approved.

There were hard points on the wings, a maritime search radar on the belly. The aircraft went on a tour of the world. It led to the Finnish Air Force contract as well as other sales. The demo aircraft was sold to a U.S. company that used it to fly training missions for the U.S. Navy.

My high watermark was an offer to become vice-president for International Marketing. Thanks but no thanks, by 1980 the company had become so political that it was not worth the grief the job would entail. The job was taken by a Beech Aircraft castoff. It was the beginning of the end for me at Learjet. The castoff outlasted me by a few months.

As this narration attests, the Lear Jet program was a grand adventure. I had the privilege to work with a lot of good people with just enough bad characters sprinkled in so that one could recognize them when they would come along in the future.

Would I do it again? "Without hesitation!"

Regrets? Like Sinatra's song, "I've had a few, but then again, to few to mention."

How would you sum it up? Same song, "We did it Bill's way!"

Thank you Mr. Lear.