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William Lear Sr.

Inventor and aircraft manufacturer. Born: 1902. Died: 1978.

Lear was curious as a child and teenager about a lot of things. This eventually led to inventions that he sold to Motorola and RCA. He used the money to start other businesses and then he sold them and moved to Wichita in 1962.

The next year he began manufacturing the Learjet, one of the first successful small jets for business and personal use. In 1967 he sold 65 per cent of Learjet and began experimenting with other ideas. Some of his ideas sounded like they had come out of science fiction books.

However, there was nothing fictional about his many successful inventions, such as an improved radio direction finder for aircraft, automatic pilot equipment, the automobile radio and the eight-track cartridge and tape player. Lear was inducted into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame in 2004.

Entry: Lear Sr., William

Author: G. Joseph Pierron

Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.

Date Created: November 2012

Date Modified: November 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.