Aviation Photography

N55RG - The final flight

Last flight of Gulfstream 2 serial No 1

Almost 46 years after it first took to the air on October 2nd 1966, Grumman Gulfstream II serial no 1 N55RG made its last flight on September 9th 2012, from Chicago-Palwaukee IL to Charlotte NC.

Serial number one was both the Gulfstream II prototype, and the first production airplane. Built at Grummans Bethpage NY facility, it was used as part of the test and certification programme for the GII. Following the completion of the certification process and service as a sales demonstration airplane, it was re-furbished and sold in July 1970 to industrialist Mr William Robert "Bob" Galvin, who was to own and operate the airplane for the next 42 years.

Bob Galvins father Paul had founded the Motorola Corporation with his brother Joseph in 1928, and Robert Galvin eventually served Motorola as both President and CEO from 1956 to 1986. During Bob Galvins ownership of the airplane it was based at Chicago Palwaukee, alongside the rest of the Motorola fleet of Falcons, Citations and Gulfstreams. The airplane remained as Mr Galvins personal transport when he left the position of CEO in 1986 and was operated for the Galvin family until its retirement in 2012.

I was fortunate enough to be invited on the airplanes last flight by my good friend Captain Joe Miller. A long time corporate pilot, Joe had previously flown for the Motorola Corporations flight department, but having flown Mr Galvin on numerous occasions and become good friends with him and his wife Mary, Joe became the Galvins personal pilot and airplane manager for the last few years of the airplanes service life.

Following Mr Galvins passing in 2011, it was his wish that the airplane be preserved, and his widow Mary B Galvin asked Joe to find the airplane a suitable home when it was retired from service in 2012. The airplane was donated to the Carolinas Air Museum in September 2012

The flight to Charlotte was also Joes last trip - he retired that day, and headed to the golf course to work on his handicap.

Joe and his co-pilot that day Joey Patarela remain good friends of mine. Joey went on to fly a Falcon 900 for a private owner in Chicago.

I am grateful to them both for the opportunity to join them on that historic trip, and more images of events on the day can be seen in the ''N55RG'' gallery - please click on the link below.