Business and commercial aviation developed rapidly in parallel in the late 1950s. Pan Am introduced the first commercially successful jet airliner, the Boeing 707, while Grumman introduced the Gulfstream 1 (G-159) twin turboprop 14-passenger executive aircraft. The airlines, routes and schedules were making travel faster and easier, however, they only serviced major cities and airports.
Business executives value their time over everything else, most of which is wasted in traveling and its processes. Presidents and CEOs did not want to be subject to airline schedules and connections only to arrive several hundred miles from their destination. Thus, the need for smaller jets to service smaller regional airports was born.
Juan Trippe, founder, and President of Pan American World Airways had the vision to include business jets as an extension of Pan Am. Simultaneously, Bill Lear, inventor of the 8-track tape player and car radio, started LearJet in Wichita, KS. In the early 60s, The Pan Am FanJet Falcon (10 seat) and the LearJet 23 (6-8 seat) were introduced followed by several others. This was the beginning of the business jet era.
Over the next 40 years, James Blackstone Taylor, son of renowned test pilot, Lt Commander James Blackstone Taylor Jr. and Aileen (Sedgwick) Taylor Lippincott, became the most well-known name in business jet marketing.
James Blackstone Taylor was born in New York on December 14, 1921. He graduated from Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, in 1940, becoming the first high school graduate with no college education to enlist in the Navy as a naval aviation cadet. He was sworn in May 1942 in front of his father on national radio. Less than three weeks later, his father was killed testing a new airplane, however, he reported for active duty on time a few days later.
In 1946, Jim joined Mallard Air Service at Teterboro Airport as vice president of sales where he sold radio personality, Arthur Godfrey a Navion, his first airplane. Two years later, Taylor joined Upressit Metal Cap Corporation in Danbury, CT as VP of Marketing. He made sales calls with the company Beechcraft Bonanza, which increased sales and profits by forming personal relationships with their customers. Taylor became President and CEO in just two years.
Taylor quickly gained another name in the industry, Mr. BizJet. During his 55-year aviation career, he was an early innovator in the business jet marketing industry, developing successful campaigns for Pan Am, Cessna, Canadair, and LearJet.
In 1963, he became Vice President of Pan Am’s new Business Jets division which had the rights to market the French-built Dassault Mystere 20 in North and South America. First, he rebranded the Mystere 20 as the FanJet Falcon. Jim believed marketing of a new plane should focus on the requirements of the executives who will be flying in it rather than just those of the chief pilot. The new name and his focus on customer needs resulted in a better aircraft. Between 1965 and 1991 over five hundred Falcon 20s sold.
In 1969, Jim was hired by Cessna to market the new FanJet 500 which was still on the drawing board. Once again, Jim renamed it, but this time to the Cessna Citation after the last triple crown winner and spoke with potential executives to learn what they needed in a business jet. The Citation was slow at 300 mph compared to other jet competitors, but it could land at hundreds of airports where other jets could not. But it was his “factory-direct” sales and service program that changed business jet marketing forever. By employing a small team of salesmen specialized in selling major capital equipment to top executives, Taylor was able to circumvent hundreds of dealers that sold Cessna aircraft at municipal airports around the country. This had been a tough sell to Cessna’s Chairman, Dwayne Wallace, and President, Del Roskam. After all, local dealers had been the lifeblood of Cessna’s single and twin-engine prop aircraft sales for years.
As a result of his work in marketing for Pan Am and Cessna, Jim moved on to Canadair in 1976 to create a marketing program for the LearStar 600 which had been designed by Bill Lear. Jim renamed it as Canadair Challenger. Before the prototype ever flew its first flight, Taylor and his team had already secured one hundred orders.
In 1985, Charlie Gates called upon Jim Taylor to turnaround a struggling Gates LearJet so it could be sold. He accomplished this within a brief duration of two years. After retiring from Gates LearJet, Jim started his own aviation marketing consultant company, James B Taylor Associates, in Southport, CT.
In 1992 the NBAA honored him with the annual “Meritorious Service to Aviation” award joining the ranks of Charles Lindberg, Jimmy Doolittle, Eddie Rickenbacker, Igor Sikorsky and many others. He was also honored with the “Elder Statesman of Aviation” award for enduring values to aviation, and the Gathering of Eagles named him “Man of the Year” for his contributions.
Jim Taylor’s success was due to both his innovative marketing solutions and building a first-class sales/marketing team. They did not work for Pan Am, Cessna, Canadair or LearJet, instead, they worked for Jim Taylor. Several team members followed him from job to job. He was not only a great leader, but a great mentor. Members of his team went on to become the Presidents or CEOs of Gulfstream (twice), Bombardier Business Aircraft Division, Pilatus Business Aviation, Flight Services Group, PrivatAir, Hawker Beechcraft, British Aerospace Corporate Jets and NetJets. Another team member became VP of Sales at Sabreliner and Raytheon (Beechcraft). And finally, one of his team became Chairman of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.