The 2-inch-square advertisement in the April 2021 aviation monthly proclaims: “For Sale, One Off Prototype, The Very First Business Jet, Very Low Time.” The accompanying image is of a sleek four-engine mini airliner, a stylistic cross between a Douglas DC-8 and a Convair B-58 Hustler. This is the McDonnell 119/220, the very first business jet, which you probably never heard of.
The year is 1957, and the jet age is in full swing. Jet fighter protypes fill the skies at a rate of three or four per year. The Boeing 707 will make its first flight and enter service with Pan Am within a year, and the Douglas DC-8 and Convair 880/990 will not be far behind. The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation is right in the thick of it with its successful F-101 Voodoo interceptor and the equally impressive Banshee and Demon fighters for the Navy. And its iconic F-4 Phantom is on the drawing boards.