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Published on December 20, 2017


I am obsessed with this airplane at the moment:

Gulfstream G650

Gulfstream G650. Excluding Concorde, probably the most beautiful aircraft ever made. Its lines are absolutely, quintessentially perfect. Not a one out of place.

It’s actually kind of a grudging admission. I’ve always been into aircraft, and when I was younger my fandom manifested itself in a kind of brand loyalty associated with the passions usually devoted to sport teams and such. When it came to business jets, I was a Cessna Citation and British Aerospace fan. Gulfstream and Bombardier were the opponents, the enemies. Cessna rolled out their Citation X in 1993, the fastest civilian jet apart from Concorde, with a max cruise of Mach 0.925, and naturally it became my favorite. The manufacturer had done an exceptional job of shaping the aircraft to be able to cruise efficiently at that speed, and it showed in the plane’s design, which is overwrought and baroque, but at the time I was so bought-in to my Cessna fanboyism that I ignored some of the Citation X’s more ungainly aspects.

And then a year later, with no fanfare, with no durm und strang, Gulfstream announced the GV, which cruised nearly as fast through careful aerodynamic attention to detail and a healthy dose of engine power. Even though the planes don’t really compete directly in the market, it felt like a defeat. I remember being really upset about it in our hotel room after visiting the Paris Air Show in 1993. It was a blow to my fandom; even though the Citation X eventually proved itself a sales success, its bragging rights—and by extention, my own—had taken a hit, even though I had absolutely no one to brag to.

Now, though, I have to admit Gulfstream has the upper hand aesthetically. Talk about attention to detail: the G650 is peerless. The flap guides are all tucked up under the trailing edge of the wing, all the planes’ various elements (empennage, winglets, engines, etc) are proportioned perfectly and even the plane’s stance on the runway is flawless. I could watch these videos over and over again:

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