William P. Lear was enshrined in the the Aviation Hall of Fame on July 22, 1978 in Dayton, Ohio.
The Aviation Hall of Fame award reads as follows:
"Born in Hannibal, Missouri and growing up in Chicago, Illinois, Lear had an avid interest in electricity and wireless telegraphy. After dropping out of high school, he set out to challenge the "impossible" in the manner of "Horatio Alger."
Lear's first involvement in aviation came in 1919 as a "grease monkey" servicing U.S. Air Mail planes. Then concentrating on improving radios, he developed a "B" battery eliminator, created an advanced sound system and introduced the automobile radio. In 1931, he purchased an airplane, learned to fly and discovered the limitations of existing aerial navigation systems. After developing an aircraft receiver of radio beacon navigation beams, he formed Lear Radio, Inc. That produced it and other radio-operated direction finders and navigation systems. During World War II, he developed the F-5 autopilot with a control for landing aircraft in "zero-zero" weather, for which he received the 1949 Collier trophy. He established Lear, Inc. to produce this device and other instruments and controls. A french "caravelle" jetliner equipped with his autopilot later made a series of blind "hands-off" landings. In 1960, he conceived a radical new jet-powered business aircraft, then established Lear Jet Industries to manufacture the "Lear Jet", which was highly successful. One set 19 records in a flight around the world. In 1967, he formed Lear Motors Corporation to develop a pollution-free engine, and also formed Learavia Corporation to develop jet aircraft. In 1977 he initiated the design of the "Lear Fan", a high-efficiency turbine-powered pusher-propeller driven business type airplane.
To William Powell Lear, for outstanding contributions to aviation by entrepreneurship in developing advances in radio operated navigation and control systems, and business jet aircraft, this award is most solemnly and respectfully dedicated."
The following pages provide more details on some of his many achievements: