Robb Design Portfolio: Rise and Shine

1937 Spartan 7W Executive

In 1937, the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. of Duncan, Okla., paid roughly $23,500 for a startlingly overpowered, polished-aluminum monoplane to ferry its top management in high style. This aircraft, a Spartan Executive, cocooned passengers in the kind of stitched-leather comfort typically found in Packard limousines, while rocketing them across the sky at the unheard-of speed of 200 mph.

The Spartan Aircraft Co., owned by oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, created its Executive line specifically for Depression-era customers like Halliburton: cash-rich oil businesses whose brass savored life’s finer things. Aviation historians now consider the 34 Executives that Spartan manufactured between 1935 and 1940 the first corporate luxury aircraft.

Halliburton’s 1937 Executive changed hands numerous times over the years before Steve Marini, a collector from Danville, Calif., acquired the plane in 2000. Marini restored the aircraft—one of only 12 Executives still in existence—and estimates its value at more than $1 million. "It’s a dream to fly, but I only take it out once a month," he says. "Wiping all that polished aluminum down is hard work."

The two-person flying car was exhibited at this year’s South by Southwest festival…
Photo by Brett Schauf
After more than 300,000 volunteer hours to restore it, the plane is set to take flight later this...
Photo by Adrian Koeppel
The massive aircraft will measure an impressive 238 feet long and 385 feet wide…
The first chopper to wear the Airbus Helicopters name, the H160 promises to be revolutionary…
The forthcoming aircraft offers vertical takeoff and landing and can fly like an airplane…
With Joby Aviation and ESAero, NASA has begun developing the LEAPTech all-electric airplane…
The chopper can be outfitted with a conference table, swivel seating, and a mini galley…
After two years of development, the fuel-efficient plane has completed its first test flight…
This solar technology could have applications in commercial and business aviation…
Built on a Beechcraft King Air C09A airframe, the plane has new General Electric engines…