It says something extraordinary about an aircraft's longevity in the aviation business when at least five companies have owned production rights, and derivatives continue to be manufactured to this day.

Currently assembled in Wichita, Kansas, and marketed as the Hawker 950XP, the original variant traces its legacy to the unveiling in May 1961 of the de Havilland 125 Jet Dragon.

When Hawker Siddeley assumed control of de Havilland a few years later, the Jet Dragon was rechristened as the HS125, which it remained until the HS125-800 variant was re-branded the Hawker 800.

The original type was one of the biggest sellers of the early business jet era - despite once being mocked in Flight International's pages as a "bit of an ugly duckling".

The market has always disagreed with Flight's unflattering assessment.

The first variants of the HS125 sold a respectable 500 aircraft in the first 15 years of production. But the improvements added with the arrival of the HS125-800 in 1983 preserved the basic design through most of the next three decades.

It also attracted the interest of Beechcraft's corporate directors, prompting one of the most controversial divestitures by a British aircraft manufacturer in history. As time reveals, the industry lost a true winner.

havilland-125 maxKJ 
 ©Max Kingley-Jones

Source: Flight International