AIRCRAFT: Small Is Beautiful

In years of severe recession, consumers and businesses put off any purchases that they can, and hardly any purchase would seem more readily postponable than a private plane costing from $5,000 (for a used Piper Cub) to $1.6 million (for a new Learjet). But 1975 turned out to be the "general aviation" industry's best year ever. In the twelve months ended last September, sales of private planes jumped 12%, to just over $1 billion.

The private-plane boom has helped keep the unemployment rate in Kansas, where Cessna (1975 sales: $491 million) is the...

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