Who Said You Can't Age Gracefully?
Believe it or not, the
Beechcraft King Air line of aircraft has reached its 40th birthday.
As one would expect, Raytheon is celebrating in style and are even
asking for the public's help in celebrating this workhorse of
business, commercial and military aviation.
On Jan. 20, 1964, the original Beechcraft King Air Model 90
lifted off from Beech Field in Wichita, and flew into the record
books. The most successful business aircraft of all time, the
King Air family today remains a highly versatile aircraft line.
“What has made the King Air so successful – other
than the excellent original design – is its constant
refinement,” said Randy Groom, President – Beechcraft
Division of Raytheon Aircraft. “From that first
aircraft we have listened to our customers and applied the latest
technology to bring incredible value to the King Air
Beech Aircraft Corporation announced the King Air on Aug. 14,
1963. It boasted a six- to eight-seat cabin, cruising speed
of 270 mph, over-the-weather operating capability, slow-speed
landing permitting safe use of small fields and airstrips –
all at a cost of $320,000 for a fully equipped airplane. By
January’s first flight, customers had placed orders worth
more than $12 million.
May 27, 1964 was Coronation Day. The Model 90 received its
Type Certificate from the FAA. By year’s end, seven
were delivered. The next year 69 were built and
delivered. The King Air was on its way to sales nearing 6,000
today. No other business aircraft comes close.
“When you combine
the King Air’s cabin-class comfort, its all-weather
capability and its rugged, quality construction, you begin to
realize what makes the King Air great,” said Groom.
“It’s a go-anywhere, do anything aircraft – an
SUV of the skies.” The King Air is flown in 105 countries
around the world. Every service in the U.S. military flies
King Airs for executive transport, electronic surveillance, air
ambulance and a host of other missions. The entire fleet
since 1964 has amassed an estimated 10 billion miles – the
equivalent of 143 round trips to Mars.
To commemorate the King Air’s 40th year, Raytheon Aircraft
is transforming a King Air 350 – serial FL 400, N40TH –
into an anniversary showcase. Already featuring new Collins
Pro Line 21 avionics, FL 400 will receive a special paint scheme
and interior treatments. Raytheon Aircraft is also creating a
special web site for the anniversary featuring owners’
stories and King Air facts and photos. The celebration will
culminate at NBAA 2004 in Las Vegas with the delivery of FL 400 to
its new owner.
Would you like to help celebrate the King Air's
anniversary? Raytheon Aircraft would like King Air owners and
pilots -- both civil and military -- to send in their unique
experiences and photographs with this legendary aircraft for web
publication. Please send your stories to KingAir40@rac.ray.com