Gulfstream Marks GII's 40th Anniversary

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My, how time flies. Has it really been 40 years since the Gulfstream GII made its first flight? It has, according to the company, which noted the occasion last week. On Oct. 2, 1966, Grumman Aerospace test pilots Carl Alber and Bob Smythe flew the first Gulfstream II (GII) on its maiden flight from Bethpage, N.Y. The GII was the first large-cabin, purpose-built business aircraft powered by jet engines. The first GII entered service on Jan. 6, 1968, when it was delivered to National Distillers & Chemical, which had also owned a Gulfstream I (GI), the GII's turboprop precursor. While the GII adopted the familiar signature oval windows from the GI, it was the first Gulfstream aircraft to feature the T-tail design, swept-back wings and engines mounted at the aft fuselage.

During the 52-minute first flight, the GII climbed to 10,000 feet above Long Island Sound. Halfway through the flight, Alber and Smythe engaged the GII's autopilot, marking the first time a corporate aircraft was flown by an autopilot system. Commenting on the first flight years later, Smythe said, “It was tough to hold her back. It felt like she really wanted to move out.” Remarking on the same flight, Alber said “...nothing went any smoother than the first flight of the Gulfstream II. It was a perfect flight.” From 1966 to 1980, Gulfstream manufactured 258 GII aircraft, 251 of which were manufactured at Gulfstream’s present-day headquarters in Savannah, Ga. Today, 240 GII aircraft, including serial number 0001, continue in operations.