William P. Lear

6/26/1902 - 7/14/1978

Inducted 1996

William P. Lear was the founder of Lear Avia, Inc., a radio and airplane instruments company, and the inventor of the Learjet, the world’s first executive airplane. His interest in flying dated back to witnessing an exhibition he attended put on by barnstormers. Later he quit his job as a Multigraph operator to work as a mechanic in exchange for free airplane rides. Before coming to Dayton, William Lear had been responsible for several major radio inventions, including a speaker, a car radio and a tuner. The car radio led to the establishment of the Motorola Company, and the tuner became part of the development of RCA, giving Mr. Lear the proceeds to establish Lear Avia. While he was in Dayton, he invented a number of aircraft instruments, including navigators, compasses, and an automatic pilot. After World War II Lear moved his company to Kansas, where he invented the Learjet.