It’s impossible to say when humankind first dreamed of taking to the air. But in just over a century, mankind went from dreaming to reality.
We’ve come a long way since the Wright Brothers first took to the air in 1903. Their airplane, the first powered craft to successfully fly, held just one person. In less than 100 years, airplanes would take to the sky holding a whopping 853 passengers, as well as a number of crew, pilots, and stewards.
While commercial aircraft keep getting bigger, many people are looking for ways to get back to the earlier days of flight. And especially, get away from crowded airports and packed flights.
You don’t have to resort to a one-man aircraft to get away from the crowds, either.
Whether you’re thinking about chartering a jet in the future or not, keep reading to learn about the history of private jets, and why they continue to stand out from commercial flights.
Aviation Takes Off in the U.S.
The first commercial flight was more private than you might expect.
In the second decade of the 20th century, those living in two Florida cities, St. Petersburg and Tampa, had a problem. Thanks to Tampa Bay, traveling between the two cities took almost a day by car, 2 hours by steamship, or between 4 and 12 by rail.
An engineering young man, Percival Elliot Falser, took it upon himself to solve this problem, launching the first commercial air service between the two cities.
The very first ticket was auctioned off, eventually selling for $400, or around $8,500 today. Halfway through the flight, the engine failed. Luckily, the craft was part boat, so it landed in the bay, made a few adjustments, and took off again.
While the route would last just 4 months, it cut commute times down to just 23 minutes.
The only problem was that this early aircraft was designed to carry just two people; the pilot and one passenger. The tickets sold out 16 weeks in advance as passengers vied for one of just two spots on the plane that was available each day.
Today, unless you own a very small craft, it’s unlikely you’d ever take to the air with just one other person.
Corporate Jets Emerge
That first flight may technically have been commercial. But the service, and similar ones that followed, would largely be used by wealthy businessmen and executives. In fact, as commercial flights continue to expand, only businessmen and the ultra-wealthy took part.
As planes grew and flight became more popular, business-types sought ways to get back to the no-fuss ease of smaller aircraft.
Corporate jets came into existence in the 1930s. They were outfitted with radiotelephones and oversized seats. This allowed executives to meet with clients, transport employees, and more.
Essentially, these aircraft became flying office spaces. In some cases, the flights were used exclusively by CEOs or other business execs, while in others they bounced around to be used by various employees or segments of the business.
By 1957, there were around 25,000 corporate planes in the U.S. Soon, the wealthy heads of these businesses, as well as other celebrities and socialites, wanted a way to take to the air in privacy and luxury as well.
Private jets quickly emerged.
The History of Private Jets
In 1963, the first purpose-built private jet took off from a small airport in Wichita, Kansas. It was a Lear Jet, built by Bill Lear. It only took a few months for other companies to follow suit, launching their own private craft.
Before long, private jets were featured in Hollywood films, and their popularity quickly exploded.
In the decades that followed, celebrities, businessmen, heirs and heiresses, and more took to the air in their own private jets.
The rapid increase in the popularity of private jet travel wasn’t just for luxury; for many, it became a way to avoid the hassles of modern air travel.
Just as commercial jets gave businessmen a way to quickly travel without shuffling through airports packed with other travelers, private jets soon did the same for celebrities and other wealthy individuals.
Fewer passengers meant quicker take-off times and no lines when waiting to board. Because they can take off from smaller airports, travelers didn’t even have to contend with the airports that were quickly becoming packed with air travelers.
For those with the cash to spend on a private jet, the ease and luxury were tough to beat. Acting as both a status symbol and a convenient way of getting around, their popularity has continued to grow at a quick pace.
But while purchasing a private jet is a luxury often reserved only for the ultra-wealthy, a more recent trend has given a far broader range of people access to the excitement, convenience, and luxury of a private jet; renting.
Besides avoiding the 7, 8, or 9 figure price tag to buy a jet, renting also means no upkeep, storage, employees, or other fees.
Renting a Private Jet
The history of private jets shows us just how fast the industry has grown in a few short decades. Today, you don’t have to be ultra-wealthy to join that history, either.
Whether you want to travel in style to your next vacation or have some business to attend to and are sick of busy airports, renting a private jet is a great option. You get all of the benefits of a private aircraft but at a fraction of the cost.
Check out our private charter trips and get your own free quote today!