Cessna Citation airplane model. The Cessna Citation III was the first of the Model 650 series of Citation jets, which are mid-sized, high-performance business jets. While the Citation I and II were successful from a sales perspective, their nearest competitors were twin turboprop aircraft. Cessna decided it needed a high performance, mid-sized jet to compete with the growing market of fast corporate jets, and designed a new aircraft from scratch. Development of the Citation III began in 1978, and the prototype made its first flight on May 2, 1980. In 1983, just after the first aircraft were delivered to customers, the Citation III set several class records, including two time-to-climb records and an overall speed record of 5 hours, 13 minutes for a flight from Gander, Newfoundland to Le Bourget Airport in Paris. Production continued for nine years until 1992, with a total of 202 Citation IIIs being built.