Working Together – Building Our Future

1949-1956: POST WAR YEARS

1949 “Waikiki Beech” the longest solo non-stop flight in history of aviation.

On March 6, 1949 Captain William P. “Bill” Odom and his Bonanza, the “Waikiki Beech,” started on the 4,957-mile flight from Honolulu, Hawaii to Teterboro, N.J. His time was 36 hours and 2 minutes, which established a new international distance record for light planes. Waikiki Beech was the fourth Model 35 built and had been used in engineering field tests. It was fitted with additional fuel and oil tanks and had a range of 5,500 miles. The flight was completed at a total cost of less than $75 for fuel and oil. The airplane was donated in 1975 to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Beech Aircraft sponsored the record breaking event to demonstrate the efficiency and dependability of the airplane.

1950 Walter Beech dies.

After years as a driving force in American aviation, Walter H. Beech passed away on Nov. 29, 1950 as the result of a heart attack. The reins of Beech Aircraft were taken up by his widow, Olive Ann Beech, who had worked closely at his side as secretary-treasurer and director for 18 years. During his lifetime Walter had distinguished himself as a pilot, salesman and a savvy entrepreneur who was not afraid to take risks. His courage, imagination, and pioneering spirit helped
extend the horizons of aviation forever. Under his direction, more than 80 types of aircraft were developed and certified.

1951 U.S Air Force announces Beech was winner of design competition for the T-36A Trainer.

With the beginnings of hostilities in Korea, there was a rising demand again from the military forces for aviation support. Beechcraft resumed its role as a supplier of training, transport and utility aircraft. In 1951, an Air Force contract valued around $100 million was offered to design, develop, test and manufacture a twin engine trainer T-36A. Beechcraft constructed Plant III as an assembly plant for T-36 production. On June 10, 1953 the department of Defense abruptly cancelled production of the trainers, just hours before its scheduled maiden flight.

The U.S. Air Force’s newest trainer transport was an all-metal, low-wing, twin-engine monoplane and was built for a crew of four. As a transport plane it had accommodations for a crew of two and twelve passengers.

1952 Beechcraft Twin-Bonanza is first twin-engine airplane of U.S. Army Field Forces.

The Beechcraft Twin-Bonanza was designed to become the “backbone” of Army aviation during the 1950s. Introduced by Beech Aircraft as Model 50, the Twin-Bonanza was the first light twin-engine plane in its class to be offered in the business aircraft market. Engineered to unusual strength and designed with many safety features, the Twin Bonanza drew the special interest of the U.S. Army as a utility transport. In 1952 the Army adopted the Model 50 as the L-23. The L-23 was the largest fixed-wing airplane operated by the Army and first twin-engine craft to be flown by Army Field Forces. Early units were completed in time to see action in the Korean War.

Beechcraft Twin Bonanza first flew Nov. 15, 1949, just 223 days after Walter Beech approved the design.

1955- Beech establishes aerospace research and development operation at Boulder.

On July 15, 1955 Beech Aircraft established a new engineering facility in Boulder, CO. The Boulder facility’s initial purpose was to work with the Air Force to study liquid hydrogen storage systems.

1955 First flight of Beech Model 45 Mentor.

The Beechcraft Mentor was designed and privately financed by Beechcraft as a primary basic trainer for military services. Over 1,000 of the Model 45 were produced by Beechcraft for domestic and export sale. The aircraft was also produced under license agreement in Argentina, Canada, and Japan. The Mentor was a single-engine, all-metal, two-place trainer, that was built around the Beechcraft Bonanza design for high performance, economical operation and low fuel consumption.

The Model 73, “Jet Mentor,” was described as one of the most economical jet trainers in the world. t logged many successful demonstration flights; but in the meantime the Air Force decided on a competitive jet. The Jet Mentor was never commercially produced.

1956 Beech enters field of missile targets with production of Beechcraft KXDB-1 for Navy.

Development of KXDB-1 target drone for U.S Navy was the first project of Beech Aircraft’s new missile engineering division. This remote-controlled aircraft weighed less than 600 pounds and flew more than 320 mph. The KXDB-1 was Beechcraft’s first step into the guided missile field. The target drone was a main choice of both the U.S. Army and Navy in 1960.

The KXDB-1 propeller driven missile target established Beechcraft firmly in the missile
target field.