Early one summer morning in 1972, five men were arrested after breaking into an office complex in Washington. They were no ordinary burglars and the office was no ordinary office.
They had broken into the offices of the Democratic National Committee, and their aim was to place wire-taps and steal documents. They also stole cash from the office and it was the tracing of the cash by the FBI that led to one of the biggest political scandals of all time.
The FBI found a link between the cash and a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President – who are rather appropriately abbreviated to CREEP – and soon their investigations led them right back to the White House, where then President Nixon had not only been involved, but had tried in vain to have the whole affair covered up. Watergate entered the global lexicon.
One thousand miles away, in the American Midwest, something else was happening. And whilst it might not be as familiar as Watergate, it gave us a word that has become synonymous with business aviation. With little fanfare, The Cessna Aircraft Company delivered the very first Citation to the American Airlines’ Citation Training Facility.
Although the Cessna Citation was not the first business jet to enter service – The HS 125, JetStar, LearJet 23 and Sabreliner were all in production by 1972 – no aircraft would go on to produce a family of aircraft that would see so many deliveries. In the years that followed, Cessna, who had spent a total of $35 million on development of the five passenger Citation 1, would go on to see that their gamble had paid off as the aircraft saw more deliveries than any other business jet.
Forty four years’ later, Cessna has delivered 7,000 Citation business jets. And whilst the original Citation couldn’t fly the 1,000 miles between Wichita and Washington you can now fly up to 3,460nm. And in several years’ time, when the Citation Hemisphere enters service, you’ll be able to go even further.
That so many aircraft have been delivered is nothing short of remarkable. Citation aircraft are well known for being robust workhorses, but in recessions it is the market segments that the aircraft compete in that suffer the most.