Gulfstream I
A USCG VC-4A Gulfstream I in flight, 1964
Role Business aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Grumman
First flight August 14, 1958[1]
Produced 1959–1969[2]
Number built 200

The Grumman Gulfstream I (company designation G-159) is a twin-turboprop business aircraft. It first flew on August 14, 1958.

Design and development

After first rejecting an idea to develop the Grumman Widgeon as an executive transport, the company studied producing an executive transport based on a turbine-powered variant of the naval utility transport Grumman TF-1 Trader. The company had already determined that any new aircraft would have to be turboprop-powered and the Rolls-Royce Dart engine was chosen. Further studies showed that the Trader-based design would not sell and they needed an all-new design with a low-wing and room to stand up in the cabin. In June 1957 the design of G-159 was finalised and Grumman started selling slots on the production line at $10,000 each. The initial customers worked with Grumman on the detailed design and avionics fit. The G-159 was given the name Gulfstream and on 14 August 1958 the first aircraft, registered N701G, took off from Bethpage, New York on its maiden flight. By 2 May 1959 the aircraft was awarded a type certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Gulfstream I is a low-wing cantilever monoplane with a semi-monocoque aluminium alloy fuselage structure. The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops with Rotol four-bladed constant speed propellers. The Gulfstream I has a retractable tricycle landing gear, with twin wheels on the two main units and the nose gear. The cabin is designed to take up to twenty-four passengers in a high-density arrangement or only eight in an executive layout, although ten to twelve was more usual. The aircraft has a hydraulically operated airstair in the forward cabin for entry and exit.

The United States military version for this plane is the C-4 Academe. The TC-4 is a version with added instruments and navigation. It was used by the US Navy for bombardier/navigator training for the A-6 Intruder. A VC-4A variant was flown by the United States Coast Guard as an executive transport until the early 1980s. It was later used as a logistics and long-range command and control aircraft until 2001.[3]

A 37-passenger stretched version, the G-159C, was developed by Gulfstream for regional airline use. Five were delivered from November 1980.[4] Air North (based in Plattsburgh NY and which subsequently changed its name to Brockway Air) was one of the few airlines in the U.S. to use this version before its acquisition by Brockway Glass. Another Gulfstream I-C airline operator was Chaparral Airlines which flew passenger services as American Eagle via a codesharing agreement with American Airlines. Royale Airlines also operated the G-I in scheduled passenger service in the U.S. operating as Continental Connection on behalf of Continental Airlines; however, its aircraft were standard length G-159 models and thus were not the stretched version. Several other airlines in the U.S. as well. Air carriers in Africa, Canada, Europe and the Mideast also operated standard Gulfstream Is in scheduled passenger service, including Peregrine Air Services in the U.K., which operated airline flights for British Airways.

Operational history

Walt Disney Company G-I on display in Florida

As of August 2006, a total of 44 Grumman Gulfstream I aircraft remained in service. The major operator is Phoenix Air in the United States with 13 aircraft. Some 19 other airlines also operate the type.[5] A G-I purchased by Walt Disney in 1964 and last flown on Oct. 8, 1992 was on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios and is set to be moved to Palm Springs Air Museum.[6] The aircraft logged 8800 flights and 20,000 flight hours with notable passengers Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Julie Andrews, Hugh O'Brian, and Annette Funicello.[7] The Broadcasting Board of Governors operated a Gulfstream I as an airborne broadcasting studio for Radio y Televisión Martí in international airspace near Cuba from 2006 to 2013.[8]


A U.S. Navy TC-4C Academe from VA-42 at NAS Oceana, 1989.
G-159 Gulfstream I
Twin-engined executive, corporate transport aircraft with accommodation for up to 14 passengers, powered by two 2,210-shp (1648-kW) Rolls-Royce Dart RDa.7/2 Mk 529-8X turboprop engines. 200 built.
G-159C Gulfstream I-C
Stretched regional airline version. Five G-I aircraft were converted into Gulfstream I-Cs, by having the fuselage lengthened by 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m) to provide seating for up to 37 passengers.
VIP transport version for the US Coast Guard. One built.
United States military designation for a cancelled order for ten aircraft for the United States Navy for the navigation training and transport duties.
TC-4C Academe
TC-4C aircraft used by VA-42 at Davis-Monthan in 2018

United States military designation for a bombardier, navigator trainer for the US Navy and Marine Corps, first flown in 1967. Aircraft were fitted with a Grumman A-6 Intruder nose radome, a simulated A-6 cockpit and four bombardier/navigator consoles for A-6 crew training, nine built. The aircraft used by VA-42 was last seen in 2018 at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG). The "Green Pawn" emblem is still visible on the tail.


Most of the 200 Gulfstream I propjets were operated by corporate customers, with a smaller number operated by regional or commuter airlines as well as by government agencies and the military. NASA, the U.S. space agency, flew the Gulfstream I as a passenger transport aircraft and operated seven G-Is. Throughout the 1970s and mid-80s the Ford Motor Company operated a G-1 for their executives in Brazil. The Walt Disney Company operated Gulfstream S.N. 121 with the factory assigned tail number N732G from December of 1963 to October 4, 1967, when it was changed to N234MM.

Civilian operators

Gulfstream I of Cimber Air operating a scheduled service from Copenhagen Airport in 1981
Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of Congo
 United Kingdom
 United States
Nasa G-I at Prestwick, 1989

Military operators

G-159 at the Hellenic Air Force Museum at Dekelia (Tatoi), Athens, Greece
 United States


Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1965-66 [1]

General characteristics


288 mph (250 kn; 463 km/h) economical cruise, at 25,000 ft (7,600 m) at MTOW

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b Taylor 1965, p.238.
  2. ^ "Grumman G-159 Gulfstream I |". Archived from the original on 2010-04-29. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
  3. ^ "U. S. Coast Guard Aircraft Types list". USCG web site. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  4. ^ Frawley, p.132
  5. ^ Flight International, 3–9 October 2006
  6. ^ "Walt Disney's Airplane Returns to Palm Springs After D23 Expo". 9 September 2022.
  7. ^ Air Progress: 73. March 1993. ((cite journal)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Amy Thompson (October 2014). "AeroMartí Signs Off The airplane that doubled as a TV station". Air & Space Magazine.
  9. ^, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Rockford flight schedules
  10. ^ "Hellenic Air Force Museum exhibits". Hellenic Air Force.
  11. ^ Harding 1990, pp. 131–133.