Designed in the heyday of the famed Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the JetStar inadvertently invented the market for the dedicated business jet when it appeared in 1957.
Skunk Works director Clarence "Kelly" Johnson launched the four-engine JetStar in February 1957, to compete for an emerging US Air Force requirement for a new utility jet. Johnson set a deadline for first flight of a prototype within 241 days of project go-ahead. True to form, the first flight came on the 241st day, on 4 September 1957.
But a shift in budget priorities dramatically reduced the air force's requirement for a utility jet. In total, the military purchased only 15 of the 204 JetStars ever built, according to Lockheed Martin records.
Lockheed re-branded the JetStar for executive transport, proving that a market existed for a jet-powered aircraft dedicated to transporting business and government leaders.
Before the JetStar's arrival , the business market was dominated by surplus military aircraft or retired airliners. It was not generally accepted that demand existed for a dedicated aircraft for transporting high-ranking business and government officials.
Competitors, of course, were not far behind and quickly eclipsed the JetStar's lead.