|Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo|
The Beechcraft Bonanza began as the Model 35, V-tailed design from Ralph Harmon and his team in 1947. The famous V-tail design reduced tail drag by 40% and used fewer parts than a conventional tail. The 1964 Model 33 Debonair introduced the conventional tail, which was offered along with the V-tail Bonanza. The 1982 Model 36 with the conventional tail became the standard model, and today, about 20,000 airframes later, the G36 with the G1000 avionics is still in production.
Another Beechcraft design, the Model 24 series Sierra, is a development of the Model 23 Musketeer introduced in 1963. The fixed gear Sport trainer, the fixed-gear Sundowner and the retractable gear Sierra (pictured) were designed as stepping stone aircraft for Beechcraft owners who ideally would advance to the Bonanza. The Sierra offers respectable 140kt. cruise and a roomy cabin. The twenty-year production run produced over 4,300 aircraft in all models.
The Beechjet is the common name for a series of production models based on the Mitsubishi Diamond twin-engine jet. Following a long development period, only about a dozen of the Diamond I and Diamond II jets were produced. In 1986, Beechcraft bought the rights to the design in order to develop its own jet product, and the Model 400 was put into production in Wichita, KS. The Model 400A and later variants were better performing aircraft and met with commercial and military sales (sometimes under the Hawker Beechcraft or Raytheon names as the company changed ownership prior to becoming a Textron company). Operators include the U.S. Air Force (440T/T-1A Jayhawk), South American governments and a small number of U.S. fractional owners and charter operators. New types have eclipsed the Beechjet in current fleets, but with modern engines they can continue to offer reliable service.