August Marked Golden Anniversary Of G-I First Flight
Fifty years ago last month, Grumman Aerospace test pilots Carl
Alber and Fred Rowley took the first Gulfstream I twin-engine
turboprop on its maiden flight, marking the birth of what is today
a flourishing market for business aviation aircraft.
The GI, with Alber and Rowley at the controls and fellow Grumman
pilot Bob Smyth following behind in an F8F Bearcat, flew over
Grumman's then-headquarters in Bethpage, NY on August 14, 1958.
Following that flight, the GI underwent about 800 hours of
additional testing and received Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) certification on May 21, 1959. Soon after, Grumman
delivered the first GI to Sinclair Oil.
While the GI was designed
specifically for business travel, it also saw service with five US
government agencies and all branches of the armed forces. When
Grumman was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) to produce the Lunar Module, a GI was
outfitted with a cargo door to help transport some of the
assemblies. The FAA acquired its first GI in June 1959.
Production of the GI ended 10 years later, when Grumman
delivered the 200th aircraft in 1969. Approximately one-third of
the 200 GI aircraft Grumman built are still flying today. They are
registered in some 15 countries, including the United States,
Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Turkey, Panama and South
Billed by Gulfstream as the first aircraft designed specifically
for business travel (earlier planes were often derived from
post-WWII military transports; even the clean-sheet Howard 500
shared its DNA with Lockheed Venturas and Lodestars --
Ed.) the GI accommodated 12 passengers, with
a maximum speed of 350 mph at 35,000 feet. Powered by two
Rolls-Royce Dart engines, the aircraft had a range of 2,500
Customer input played an important role in the aircraft’s
design, prompting Grumman to build a low-wing platform instead of
retaining the high-wing design of the company’s previous
aircraft. Customers also wanted ample visibility, which led Grumman
to develop the large, 26-inch-wide oval window that has become the
The GI laid the foundation for the future family of Gulfstream
aircraft. Today, Gulfstream Aerospace, the company that evolved out
of Grumman Aerospace and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of
General Dynamics, has manufactured more than 1,800 aircraft and
offers seven business jets at various prices and performance
points: the G650, G550, G500, G450, G350, G200 and G150.
"The creation of the GI would not have been possible 50 years
ago without the dedicated and innovative people working at Grumman
Aerospace," said Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream. "Fifty years
later, our employees still make the difference in manufacturing the
safest, most reliable and most technologically advanced business
jets in the world."