Reader Mail : What Are The Low Airplane N-Numbers?

This morning I received an email from Melissa Miles, of New York, enquiring about aircraft with low N-Numbers … an interesting question indeed. In Melissa’s email she asked, “I have been traveling recently and spotted a few airplanes with N numbers that were very low. Who owns these planes? I didn’t know an airplane could have a single digit N number, I had never seen them before.”


Before I address Melissa’s question, first let me answer what an “N number is.   All civilian aircraft in the United States must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), from small crop dusters to massive Boeing 747s, even helicopters, and all of these aircraft registrations begin with an “N” (Canada is “C“, United Kingdom is “G“, Netherlands is “PH“, Australia is “VH“, Federated States of Micronesia is “V6“, United Nations is “4U” , etc, etc … and some countries have more than one registration for various reasons, such as South Africa).


So … now that we all know what an “N” number is … let’s go on to Melissa’s question.


Low N-numbers are similar to low numbers or single letters on license plates, they signify use by a Governor or other senior ranking government official or state office.   Within the FAA’s Registry, the ultra low N-Numbers belong to the Federal Aviation Administration, exclusively. Some aircraft are owned by the FAA, others leased by the FAA.


The following are a few of the ultra low N-numbers in the FAA’s registry



Registered Owner – Federal Aviation Administration

Aircraft – Gulfstream G-IV

Registered – 14 February 1990 (Happy Valentines Day to the FAA!)

Expires – 31 December 2013



Registered Owner – Cessna Finance Corporation

Aircraft – Cessna 560XL

Registered – 24 July 2003

Expires – 30 November 2014

(Leased To The FAA for Exclusive Use By The FAA)



Registered Owner – Cessna Finance Corporation

Aircraft – Cessna 560XL

Registered – 29 August 2003

Expires – 28 February 2015

(Leased To The FAA for Exclusive Use By The FAA)


N4 – through – N10

Not In Use – Reserved For Exclusive Use By The FAA


N11 – through – N-15 are all

Registered Owner – Federal Aviation Administration

Aircraft – Hawker Beechcraft  C90GTI

Registered Between – 30 November 2009 … and … 5 October  2010

Expiring Between – 31 March 2013 … and … 31 October 2013



… in fact the FAA owns all the N numbers from N1 to N99. The first  ‘real’ N-number in the FAA registry is N100.


FAA Registry Aircraft N100 is a 1940 Piper J3C-65, owed by Mary Bene of Ketchum, Oklahoma. Ms. Bene’s Piper J3C-65 was certified as Airworthy on the 30th of April 1954!


So … in short, when you see a low N-number, you’re looking at an FAA owned or operated aircraft.


Happy Flying!




  1. Back in the 1980’s I got a chance to fly the Goodyear Blimp.
    I have time in my logbook attesting to the fact that I flew it and the “instruction received” time was signed by the Pilot in Command.

    The Blimps “N” number was N1A

  2. Recently I was walking around aircraft at night in the GA side of Honolulu International Airport and saw “N1” the lowest possible N number which is registered to a Gulf Stream G-IV. It is painted like the presidents aircraft and says US Air Force on the fuselage, its registered as an FAA aircraft though, anyone know why the FAA would have an aircraft with Air Force markings? Particularly those of the president?

  3. Should have read,n10t Pitts owned by charle wells before he crashed,he also did work at oshkosh

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