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Conquering Air and Space


Executive Jets
NASA launched Space Shuttle Discovery in 1984, and the vehicle is now the oldest of the three active shuttles.
NASA launched Space Shuttle Discovery in 1984, and the vehicle is now the oldest of the three active shuttles.
NASA

Among the great advances in business was the proliferation of executive jet aircraft. What had begun with the Lockheed JetStar, North American Saberliner, and Learjet now turned into a competitive race between Gulfstream, Dassault, Learjet, Cessna, and others to produce the most luxurious and most cost-effective executive jet transports possible. The ultraluxurious jets now featured intercontinental range and speeds that were in the high-subsonic range.

Another new phenomenon was arising out of the brain, sweat, and energy of Paul Poberzney, whose Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) had grown from a few friends gathered in his basement into the most important general aviation organization in history. The EAA, with its annual Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, promoted every aspect of general aviation, including ultra-lights, home-builts, classics, war-birds, and more. It began by essentially offering private flyers an alternative to purchasing a used Piper Cub but became a leader in aviation business, education, and research. The home-built industry became a phenomenon in itself, with more and more kits being offered and more and more aircraft being completed and flown.

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This was also the decade of the Space Shuttle, the fantastic rocket-borne glider that would take astronauts into orbit for experiments, national defense, and, ultimately, to build the International Space Station. The path to the Space Shuttle was taken deliberately and with great care. Piloted space flight had captured the public's imagination in a way even the most fantastic satellite never could.

To learn about the next era in flight history, read about Flight After the Cold War.


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