Last JetStar Retires


Retirement came this week for what is believed to be the last flying Lockheed JetStar. An unnamed Florida family, which has been using it for the last three decades, has donated the four-engined bizjet to the Marietta Aviation History and Technology Center. Built in 1966, this JetStar has just short of 11,000 hours’ total time and was once owned by the Saudi royal family.

According to a report in the Marietta Daily Journal, the JetStar’s pilot, John Poffenbarger, has been flying the aircraft for the last 21 years and more than 3,000 hours. “We were able to preserve a piece of art,” he said after the Lockheed’s likely last flight on Monday. “The pilots I’ve talked to over the years have always had one common comment about Lockheed, that it was always the best flying aircraft,” Poffenbarger said. “I’m kind of jaded because for 21 years I’ve been flying this and I’ve become accustomed to it. She’s a crotchety old lady, she’s 53 years old, but she flew up here today just fine. Our director of maintenance Eric Boyd is a genius.”

The JetStar will be dismantled and moved to the museum, to be seen again sometime this summer. “There is already a JetStar at the museum, but it’s a little older, it’s not operational and it’s not in as good of a condition as this one,” Mark Morgan, the Marietta museum director, told the Daily Journal. The display will allow visitors to sit in the cockpit and sample the eight-seat interior.

Originally flown with two Bristol Siddeley Orpheus engines in 1957, the JetStar was re-engined with four Pratt & Whitney JT12As for production. N313JS had been re-engined with the quieter, more fuel efficient Garrett TFE731. 

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KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. A victim of ADS-B? According to photos in my phone I admired this airplane at TEB in Oct. 2010. Not type rated but privileged to have crewed several Jetstars with Captain Ray Wilcox known at the time as “Mr Jetstar”, I have fond memories of the aircraft. Bouncing around violently one stormy spring evening on arrival into ATL Ray was heard to say, “Sure am glad I’m in a Jetstar tonight.”

  2. I’ve been a Jetstar fan since the beginning, when I was just a kid, and this particular one has the classiest paint scheme of any airplane I’ve ever seen. I’m glad it’s being preserved – and not far from where I live, too.

  3. The Jetstar was the first aircraft I worked on as a new A/P at Republic Steel Corp. in Cleveland in 1967 . They also had two Howard 500s. It was new then and it was S/N 94 or 97 – don’t remember . I was only there a year and had to go to the Army .

  4. I was working as a lineman for Butler Aviation in the ’61-’63 time frame when they were the FBO for ORD. At the time Pure Oil was based there and had a DC-3 and a Learstar as their corporate aircraft. They then purchased a Jetstar which was the first pure non-airline jet based there. It had two unfortunate incidents in its early life.
    The first was contact between its rudder and the elevator of an Aero Commander in the hangar and the second was during the take-off roll when the brakes on one side locked up causing the plane to veer onto the grass and collapsing the nose-wheel. This was in the winter with a lot of snow on the grass. Our mechanics were able to jury-rig something to get the nose up but were afraid a tug would be two jerky and it would collapse again. It ended up with about a 2″ thick very long manila rope being tied to the mains and then being pulled by about 25-30 guys, very gently, back to our hangar.

  5. When I joined the USAF in ’64 as an ATC type, JetStars were being used by the USAF as flight check aircraft, painted bright day glow colors. Always enjoyed them doing low approaches down the runways during navaid checks. Lockheed called them L-329, the USAF called them a C-140. Their competition at the time were Saberliners, NA265 or USAF T-39. I always thought the JetStars were so much better looking.

  6. Back in 1968, in the movie Hellfitghters, a Jetstar was the featured corporate airplane for John Wayne, who portrayed a wild well control expert. Wayne’s character was based on the legendary Red Adair who pioneered control of runaway oil well fires. It was a big budget blockbuster movie for the day. Adair was a larger than life figure, and the use of the Jetstar in the movie gave it the same elite status in corporate air transport at the time.

  7. No, I installed the ADS-B solution last June. This was an awesome aircraft and I was very privileged to provide service and support for all the avionics needs since 2001. Some of the upgrades I performed over the decades where, Avidyne EX500 MFD, dual Universal Avionics UNS-1E FMS 3-D Coupled to the Flight Directors, dual MST-70B MOde-S Transponder, C406-1 ELT. I was pleased to be part of the history of the aircraft, crew and mechanic whom took care of this aircraft.

    • David C, thank you for clarifying. I am the commenter who wondered if this Jetstar was a victim of ADS-B. Congratulations to you for the devotion you showed to this particular aircraft and to have been part of its history. You and the individual(s) who footed the bill for these avionics upgrades are members in good standing of the anti-throwaway club.

      • I would think that the newer, more restrictive Fed Regulations on Jet engine Noise or N2 emissions, or spare parts maybe becoming more difficult to obtain would be what prompts parking these, all. Or just ‘Operating cost / fuel burn’ overall ? I don’t know, though. Have no dog in that hunt, or experience maintaining or flying them. They and the NAA Saberliner are ALL-TIME classics, though! Love to own either of them !! I know that ADS-B and it’s integration is very painful for some aircraft owners (‘caretakers’, if its a vintage aircraft), but has benefits. Sorry to see old business jets like Jetstar I / II, Saberdogs, Lear 20& 30 series, G-I,G-II and III go away ….