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A Belgian registered F33A Bonanza taking off at Kemble Airfield, Gloucestershire, England
Role Civil utility aircraft
Manufacturer Beechcraft
First flight 22 December 1945
Introduction 1947 [1]
Status Active service
Produced 1947–present
Number built >17,000
Unit cost
≈US$700,000 (2006)
Variants Beechcraft Baron
Bay Super V Bonanza
Beechcraft T-34 Mentor

The Beechcraft Bonanza is an American general aviation aircraft introduced in 1947 by The Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. It is still being produced by Beechcraft, and has been in continuous production longer than any other airplane in history. More than 17,000 Bonanzas of all variants have been built.[2]

Design and development

At the end of World War II, two all-metal aircraft emerged, the Model 35 Bonanza and the Cessna 195, that represented very different approaches to the premium-end of the postwar civil aviation market. With its high wing, seven-cylinder radial engine, fixed tailwheel undercarriage and roll-down side windows, the Cessna 195 was little more than a continuation of prewar technology; the 35 Bonanza, however, was more like the fighters developed during the war, featuring an easier-to-manage horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine, a rakishly streamlined shape, retractable nosewheel undercarriage (although the nosewheel initially was not steerable, or castering)[3] and low-wing configuration.

File:Advertisement for Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza, May, 1947.jpg

1947 advertisement for the first Model 35 Bonanza

Designed by a team led by Ralph Harmon, the model 35 Bonanza was a relatively fast, low-wing monoplane at a time when most light aircraft were still made of wood and fabric. The Model 35 featured retractable landing gear, and its signature V-tail (equipped with a combination elevator-rudder called a ruddervator), which made it both efficient and the most distinctive private aircraft in the sky. The prototype 35 Bonanza made its first flight on 22 December 1945, with the first production aircraft debuting as 1947 models. The first 30–40 Bonanzas produced had fabric-covered flaps and ailerons, after which, those surfaces were covered with magnesium alloy sheet.[4] The V-tail design gained a reputation as the "forked-tail doctor killer",[5] due to crashes by overconfident amateur pilots with high-level skills outside aviation,[6] fatal accidents, and in-flight breakups.[7] "Doctor killer" has sometimes been used to describe the conventional tailed version as well.[8][9]

In 1982 the production of the V-tail Bonanza stopped but the conventional-tail Model 33 continued in production until 1995.[citation needed] Still built today is the Model 36 Bonanza, a longer-bodied, straight-tail variant of the original design, introduced in 1968[citation needed].

All Bonanzas share an unusual feature: The yoke and rudder pedals are interconnected by a system of bungee cords that assist in keeping the airplane in coordinated flight during turns. The bungee system allows the pilot to make coordinated turns using the yoke alone, or with minimal rudder input, during cruise flight. Increased right-rudder pressure is still required on takeoff to overcome torque and P-factor. In the landing phase, the bungee system must be overridden by the pilot when making crosswind landings, which require cross-controlled inputs to keep the nose of the airplane aligned with the runway center line without drifting left or right. This feature started with the V-tail and persists on the current production model.[citation needed]

The twin-engine variant of the Bonanza is called the Baron, whereas the Twin Bonanza is a different design and not based on the original single-engine Bonanza fuselage.

In January 2012 the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued an airworthiness directive grounding all Bonanzas, Twin Bonanzas and Debonairs equipped with a single pole style yoke and that have forward elevator control cables that are more than 15 years old until they could be inspected. The AD was issued based on two aircraft found to have frayed cables, one of which suffered a cable failure just prior to take-off and resulting concerns about the age of the cables in fleet aircraft of this age. At the time of the grounding some Bonanzas had reached 64 years in service. Aircraft with frayed cables were grounded until the cables were replaced and those that passed inspection were required to have their cables replaced within 60 days regardless. The AD affected only Australian aircraft and was not adopted by the airworthiness authority responsible for the type certificate, the US Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA instead opted to issue a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) requesting that the elevator control cables be inspected during the annual inspection.[10][11][12]

QU-22 Pave Eagle

The QU-22 was a Beech 36/A36 Bonanza modified during the Vietnam War to be an electronic monitoring signal relay aircraft, developed under the project name "Pave Eagle" for the United States Air Force. A reduction geared Continental IO-520 engine was used to reduce its noise signature, much like the later Army-Lockheed YO-3A[citation needed]. These aircraft were intended to be used as unmanned drones to monitor sensors along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and report troop and supply movements. When the project was put into operation in 1968, however, the drones were all flown by pilots of the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron[citation needed].

Six YQU-22A prototypes (modifications of the Beech 33 Debonair) were combat-tested in 1968, and two were lost during operations, with a civilian test pilot killed. Twenty-seven QU-22Bs were modified, 13 in 1969 and 14 in 1970, with 6 lost in combat. Two Air Force pilots were killed in action. All of the losses were due to engine failures or effects of turbulence.[13]


Model 33 Debonair/Bonanza (BE33)

Rear view of V-tail variant, showing tail design

35-33 Debonair
(1959) An M35 Bonanza with conventional fin and tailplane, one 225hp Continental IO-470-J, 233 built
35-A33 Debonair
(1961) Model 33 with rear side windows and improved interior trim, 154 built
35-B33 Debonair
(1962-1964) A33 with contoured fin leading edge, N35 fuel tank modifications and P35 instrument panel, 426 built
35-C33 Debonair
(1965-1967) B33 with teardrop rear side windows, enlarged fin fairing and improved seats, 305 built
35-C33A Debonair
(1966-1967) C33 with a 285hp Continental IO-520-B engine and optional fifth seat, 179 built
D33 Debonair
One S35 modified as a military close-support prototype
E33 Bonanza
(1968-1969) C33 with improved Bonanza trim, 116 built
E33A Bonanza
(1968) E33 with a 285hp Continental IO-520-B engine, 85 built
E33B Bonanza
E33 with strengthened airframe and certified for aerobatics
E33C Bonanza
(1968-1969) E33B with a 285hp Continental IO-520-B engine, 25 built
F33 Bonanza
(1970) E33 with deeper rear side windows and minor improvements, 20 built
F33A Bonanza
(1970-1994) F33 with a 285hp Continental IO-520-B engine, later aircraft have a longer S35/V35 cabin and extra seats, 821 built

Beechcraft F33C

F33C Bonanza
(1970) F33A certified for aerobatics, 118 built
G33 Bonanza
(1972-1973) F33 with a 260hp Continental IO-470-N engine and V35B trim, 50 built

Model 35 Bonanza (BE35)


(1947–1948), main production with 165 hp (123 kW) Continental E-185-1 engine, 1500 built

(1949) Model 35 with higher take-off weight, and minor internal changes, 701 built
(1950) A35 with a 165hp Continental E-185-8 engine and other minor changes, 480 built
(1951-1952) B35 with a 185hp Continental E-185-11 engine, metal propeller, larger tail surfaces and higher take-off weight, approved for the Lycoming GO-435-D1 engine,[14] 719 built
(1953) C35 with increased take-off weight and minor changes, 298 built. Approved for the Lycoming GO-435-D1 engine.[14]
(1954) D35 with optional E-225-8 engine and minor changes, 301 built
(1955) E35 with extra rear window each side, 392 built
(1956) F35 with a Continental E-225-8 engine, 476 built

1957 Model H35 (N5589D) at Jackson Hole (KJAC) in winter

(1957) G35 with a Continental O-470-G engine, strengthened structure and internal trim changes, 464 built
(1958) H35 with a fuel injected Continental IO-470-C engine, optional autopilot and improved instruments, 396 built
(1959) J35 with fuel load increase, optional fifth seat and increased take-off weight, 436 built
(1960) K35 with cambered wingtips and minor changes, 400 built

1965 Model V35

(1961) M35 with a 260hp Continental IO-470-N engine, increased fuel capacity, increased take-off weight and teardrop rear side windows, 280 built
(1961) Experimental version, an N35 fitted with laminar flow airfoil and redesigned landing gear; only one built
(1962-1963) N35 with new instrument panel and improved seating, 467 built
(1964-1965) P35 with a Continental IO-520-B engine, higher take-off weight, longer cabin interior, optional fifth and sixth seat, and new rear window, 667 built
(1966-1967) S35 with higher take-off weight, single-piece windshield, optional turbocharged TSIO-520-D engine (as V35-TC), 873 built
(1968-1969) V35 with a streamlined windshield and minor changes, optional turbocharged TSIO-520-D engine (as V35A-TC), 470 built
(1970-1982) V35A with minor improvements to systems and trim, optional turbocharged TSIO-520-D engine (as V35B-TC), 24 volt electrical system (1978 and on), 873 built

Model 36 Bonanza (BE36)

A36 Bonanza

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza modified with the Tradewind Turbine's turboprop conversion

(1968-1969) E33A with a ten-inch fuselage stretch, four cabin windows each side, starboard rear double doors and seats for six, one 285hp Continental IO-520-B engine, 184 built
(1970-2005) Model 36 with improved deluxe interior, a new fuel system, higher take-off weight, from 1984 fitted with a Continental IO-550-BB engine and redesigned instrument panel and controls, 2128 built
(1979-1981) Model 36 with a 3-bladed propeller and a 300hp turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-UB engine, 280 built
(1979) A36 fitted with T-tail and a 325hp Continental TSIO-520 engine, one built
(1982-2002) A36TC with longer span wing, increased range, redesigned instrument panel and controls, higher take-off weight, 116 built
(2006-present) – glass cockpit update of the A36 with the Garmin G1000 system.[2]


YQU-22A (Model P.1079)
USAF military designation for a prototype intelligence-gathering drone version of the Bonanza 36, six built
YAU-22A (Model PD.249)
Prototype low-cost close-support version using Bonanza A36 fuselage and Baron B55 wings, one built
Production drone model for the USAF operation Pave Eagle, 27 built. Modified with turbocharging, three-bladed propeller and tip-tanks.[15]


Propjet Bonanza (A36)
standard aircraft modified by Tradewind Turbines with an Allison 250-B17F/2 turboprop engine (Original STC by Soloy).[16]
Turbine Air Bonanza
B36TC modified by West Pacific Air, LLC and Rocket Engineering with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-21 turboprop engine
Whirlwind System II Turbonormalized Bonanza (36, A36, G36)
standard aircraft modified by Tornado Alley Turbo with a Tornado Alley Turbonormalizing system and approved for a 4000 lb MTOW
Whirlwind TCP Bonanza (A36TC or B36TC)
standard aircraft modified by Tornado Alley Turbo with a TCM IO-550B engine and Tornado Alley Turbonormalizing system, this airframe is approved for a 4042 lb MTOW.
Bay Super V
A multiengine conversion of the C35 Bonanza

Model 40

The Beechcraft Model 40A was an experimental twin-engined aircraft based on the Bonanza. Only one prototype was built in 1948. It featured a unique over/under arrangement of two 180 hp Franklin engines mounted on top of each other and driving a single propeller. The plane had a different engine cowl from a standard Bonanza, and the nose gear could not fully retract, but otherwise it greatly resembled the production Bonanzas of the time. Certification rules demanded a firewall be fitted between the two engines, however, thus stopping development.[17] The status of the prototype is unknown.


This is the standard F33 (1970) variant of the Bonanza which has been reverse engineered by Defense Industries Organization of Iran and is being manufactured without a license.[18][19]



The Bonanza is popular with air charter companies, and is operated by private individuals and companies.


State flag of Iran (1964–1980).svg
 Ivory Coast
 Saudi Arabia
United States

Notable flights

  • In January 1949, the fourth Bonanza to come off the production line was piloted by Captain William Odom from Honolulu, Hawaii to the continental United States (2,900 statute miles), the first light airplane to do so.[20] The airplane was called "Waikiki Beech", and its 40-gallon (150 L) fuel capacity was increased (using fuselage and wing tanks) to 268 gallons (1010 L), which gave a still-air range of nearly 5,000 statute miles.
  • In March 1949, Captain Odom piloted "Waikiki Beech" a distance of 5,273 miles (8,486 km) from Honolulu to Teterboro, New Jersey, setting a nonstop record. The flight time was 36:01 hours, at an average speed of 146.3 miles per hour (235.4 km/h), consuming 272.25 US gallons (1,030.6 l; 226.70 imp gal) of fuel. After that flight, the airplane was donated to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air Museum, as the National Air and Space Museum was then called.[21][22]
  • On 7 October 1951, an American congressman from Illinois, Peter F. Mack, Jr., began an around-the-world trip in "Waikiki Beech", on loan from the Museum and reconditioned at the Beech factory, and renamed "Friendship Flame". He spent 15 weeks traveling through 30 countries (223 hours flight time). The plane was again refurbished in 1975 and returned to the National Air and Space Museum. It is still on display there, with both names painted on its sides.[23]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 3 February 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, as well as the pilot Roger Peterson died when their Beechcraft Bonanza 35, registration N3794N, crashed shortly after takeoff at night in foul weather.[24] This accident has become known as The Day the Music Died.
  • On July 31, 1964, country music star Jim Reeves and his pianist Dean Manuel died when the Beechcraft Debonair Reeves was piloting crashed in the Brentwood area of Nashville during a violent thunderstorm. The wreckage and bodies were discovered on 2 August 1964 amid dense foliage in a wooded area just off Baxter Lane next to US Interstate 65.
  • In February 1981, Apple Computer cofounder Steve Wozniak crashed his Beechcraft Bonanza while taking off from Santa Cruz Sky Park. The NTSB investigation revealed Wozniak did not have a "high performance" endorsement (making him legally unqualified to operate the airplane) and had a "lack of familiarity with the aircraft." The cause of the crash was determined to be a premature liftoff, followed by a stall and "mush" into a 12-foot embankment. Wozniak later made a full recovery, albeit with a case of temporary anterograde amnesia.
  • On 19 March 1982, Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed when the wing of the Bonanza F35 he was riding in hit the band's tour bus and the plane crashed into a tree and a nearby residence. The pilot and another passenger were also killed. The NTSB cited the causes of the crash as poor judgement, buzzing and misjudged clearance as well as indicating that the use of the aircraft was not authorized by the aircraft's owner.[25]
  • On 13 March 2006, game show host Peter Tomarken crashed his Bonanza A36 into Santa Monica Bay while climbing from Santa Monica Airport in California. He was en route to San Diego to pick up a cancer patient who needed transportation to UCLA Medical Center for treatment. Tomarken and his wife were killed in the crash.[26]

Specifications (2011 model G36)

Beechcraft Bonanza V35B.svg

Data from Hawker Beechcraft[27][28]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: five passengers
  • Length: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 6 in (10.21 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 7 in (2.62 m)
  • Empty weight: 2,517 lb (1,142 kg)
  • Gross weight: 3,650 lb (1,656 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental IO-550-B , 300 hp (220 kW)
  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hartzell Propeller, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) diameter


  • Cruise speed: 176 kn (203 mph; 326 km/h)
  • Range: 221 nmi (254 mi; 409 km) with full passenger load
  • Ferry range: 930 nmi (1,070 mi; 1,720 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5,600 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,230 ft/min (6.2 m/s)


  • Garmin G1000

See also


  1. "Beech Bonanza: Celebrating 60 years of continuous production, and still going strong." by Mike Potts. World Aircraft Sales Magazine / July 2007. Page 109.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Beechcraft Bonanza G36. Product Analysis" (PDF). Wichita, Kansas: Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. pp. 3–4. Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  3. Flying magazine, ibid.
  4. FLYING Magazine, Vol. 134, No. 8, August 2007, p. 62 "60 Years of Continuous Bonanza Production
  5. Emily Johns (2009 March 29). "Congressman gets bird's-eye view of flood". Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St.Paul). 
  6. Alicia Caldwell (1988 September 13). "Pilot in crash had only student license". Tampa Bay Times. 
  7. Bill Miller (2008 September 21). "Snapshot: Bad day for the Flying Dutchman". Mail Tribune. 
  8. Hawes C. Spencer (22 June 2006). "NEWS- Qroe quandary: Cause of crash shrouded in fog". The Hook. 
  9. Lisa Greene (20 July 2003). "Doctors find solace in high places". St. Petersburg Times. 
  10. Niles, Russ (15 January 2012). "Australia Grounds Older Bonanzas". AVweb. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  11. AAP (16 January 2012). "CASA issues directive on light planes". Herald Sun. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  12. Niles, Russ (24 January 2012). "No FAA Bonanza Cable AD". AVweb. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  13. USAF Qu-22 Pave Eagle
  14. 14.0 14.1 Federal Aviation Administration (26 March 2007). "Aircraft Specification A-777".$FILE/A-777.pdf. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  15. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". December 1971. p. 75. 
  16. Tradewind Turbines
  17. Colby, Douglas. "The Ultimate V-Tail". Plane & Pilot Magazine. Werner Publishing Corporation. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  18. – Parastu
  19. Payvand – Iranian Air Force Highly Equipped
  20. Air & Space Vol. 22, No. 3, August 2007, "A Bonanza Anniversary", p. 14
  21. Air & Space, V 22, N 3, p. 14
  22. Ball 1971
  23. Air & Space, V 22, N 3, p. 15
  24. "Aircraft Accident Report – File No. 2-0001". Civil Aeronautics Board, Page 3, "The Aircraft" section. September 15, 1959. 
  25. NTSB preliminary report
  26. NTSB preliminary report
  27. Hawker Beeechcraft G36 Specifications
  28. Hawker Beeechcraft G36 Performance
  • Ball, Larry A. Those Incomparable Bonanzas. McCormick-Armstrong, 1971. ASIN B003B9BEWU

External links

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