Air Capital Insider

Beechcraft plane designed by ‘volunteers’ marks 70th year

Textron Aviation is offering a special edition Beechcraft Bonanza to mark a couple of milestones for the Wichita-built plane.

The single-engine airplane marks its 70th year of continuous production in 2017. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the American Bonanza Society, a Wichita-based group that represents more than 9,000 Bonanza and Beechcraft owners and enthusiasts.

In recognition of the milestone, Textron Aviation introduced a special American Bonanza Society Sport Package for the piston-engine Bonanza G36, a $26,350 factory option that includes a red and black paint scheme and custom interior.

The base price of the six-seat airplane is $815,000.

The company recognized the American Bonanza Society anniversary and the special Bonanza at an event Tuesday at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.

More than 18,000 Bonanzas have been delivered by Beech Aircraft Corp. and its successor companies, including Textron Aviation.

“That’s just a testament to the original designers — Ralph Harmon and a small group of people — and their abilities … to look at the needs of the customer and to meet the needs of the customer,” said Doug May, Textron Aviation vice president of piston aircraft.

May said Harmon and his team developed plans for the Bonanza in 1944. But because of Beech’s production responsibilities during World War II, Harmon and his team did their designing and engineering of the Bonanza when they weren’t on company time. It was a “volunteer effort,” May said.

The longevity of the Bonanza “is indicative of the level of quality and commitment of the Beechcrafters of that day,” May said. “It’s also indicative of the work ethic and quality of work that has gone into the Bonanza for 70 years.”

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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