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By Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia,

Beech Aircraft
Type privately-held company
Founded 1932
Headquarters Wichita, Kansas
Industry general aviation

The Beech Aircraft Corporation, previously the Beechcraft Division of Raytheon and now a unit of Hawker Beechcraft, is a United States manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, ranging from light single engine aircraft to business jets and light military transports.


1978 Beech Bonanza F33C.
1978 Beech Bonanza F33C.

Beechcraft was founded in Wichita, Kansas in 1932 by Walter H. Beech and his wife Olive Ann Mellor Beech. The company began operations in an idle Cessna factory. With designer Ted Wells, they developed their first aircraft, the classic Model 17 Staggerwing, which first flew in November 1932. Over 750 Staggerwings were built, with 270 manufactured for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. In 1942 Beech won their first Army-Navy ‘E’ Award prodcution award became one of the elite five percent of war contracting firms in the country to win five straight awards for production efficiency.

After the war, the Staggerwing was replaced by the revolutionary Beechcraft Bonanza with a distinctive V-tail. Perhaps the best known Beech aircraft, the single-engine Bonanza has been manufactured in various models since 1947. The Bonanza has had the longest production run of any airplane, past or present, in the world. Other important Beech planes are the King Air/Super King Air line of twin-engine turboprops, in production since 1964, the Baron, a twin-engine variant of the Bonanza and the Beech 18, originally a business transport and commuter airliner in the 1950s and 1960s, which remains in active service as a cargo transport.

In 1950, Olive Ann Beech was installed as president and CEO of the company, after the sudden death of her husband from a heart attack on November 29 of that year. She continued as CEO until Beech was purchased by Raytheon Company on 8 February 1980. Ted Wells had been replaced as Chief Engineer by Herbert Rawdon, who remained at the post until his retirement in the early 1960s (he continued as a part-time consultant to Cessna President Dwane Wallace in Wichita until shortly before his death).

In 1994, Raytheon merged Beechcraft with the Hawker product line it had acquired in 1993 from British Aerospace, forming Raytheon Aircraft Company. In 2002, the Beechcraft brand was revived to again designate the Wichita-produced aircraft. Randy Groom, now President of Groom Aviation LLC , was President from 2003 to 2007, when Raytheon sold Raytheon Aircraft to Hawker Beechcraft. Since its inception Beechcraft has resided in Wichita, Kansas, also the home of chief competitor Cessna Aircraft Company, and the birthplace of the Learjet.

Aircraft products

1943 Beech D.17S Staggerwing.
1943 Beech D.17S Staggerwing.

Beechcraft Model 2000 Starship.
Beechcraft Model 2000 Starship.

Beechcraft 1900D.
Beechcraft 1900D.


  • Model 16 Single-engine, all-metal training aircraft. Designed and flight tested in Liberal, KS in 1970. The wings and tail section were two feet shorter than the Model 19. It had a Lycoming O-235 engine rated at 125 hp (93 kW). Only one was ever built because Mrs. Beech did not like the aircraft.
  • Model 17 Staggerwing Single-radial-engine fabric-covered biplane utility aircraft, tailwheel landing gear
  • Model 19 Sport Single-engine, all metal training aircraft, tricycle landing gear
  • Model 23 Musketeer and Sundowner Single-engine all-metal training aircraft, nosewheel landing gear
  • Model 34 Twin-Quad Prototype small airliner; the largest aircraft ever built by Beechcraft
  • Model 35 Bonanza Single-engine utility aircraft, nosewheel landing gear, V-tail
  • Model 36 Bonanza Single-engine utility aircraft, nosewheel landing gear, conventional tail
  • Model 50 Twin Bonanza Two-engine utility aircraft; despite its name was not a development of the Bonanza
  • Models 55, 56 and 58 Baron Two-engine high-performance utility aircraft; derived from the Model 95 Travel Air, Model 58 with fuselage derived from the Model 36 Bonanza
  • Model 77 Skipper Single-engine two-seat primary trainer with fixed nosewheel landing gear
  • Model 400 Beechjet Two-turbofan-engine utility aircraft, originally designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi
  • Model 2000 Starship Two-turboprop-engine utility aircraft with canard configuration and pusher propellers.


A USAF T-6A Texan II out of Randolph Air Force Base.
A USAF T-6A Texan II out of Randolph Air Force Base.
  • XA-38 Grizzly Two-radial-engine ground attack aircraft. Two prototypes were built (1944)
  • AT-10 Wichita Two-engine military trainer aircraft built primarily of wood
  • C-6 Ute Military derivative of the King Air
  • C-12 Huron Military derivative of the Super King Air
  • T-6 Texan II Joint Primary Aircraft Training System - single-turboprop-engine two-seat training aircraft
  • T-34 Mentor Single-engine two-seat training aircraft, derived from the Bonanza
  • U-8 Seminole Military derivative of the Twin Bonanza and Queen Air
  • U-21 Ute Military derivative of the King Air


  • AQM-37 Jayhawk Air-launched target drone aircraft with single rocket engine
  • MQM-61A Cardinal Drone aircraft with single horizontally-opposed two-stroke piston engine and propeller

External links

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Published in July 2009.

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