Plane & Pilot
Monday, September 1, 2003

Project Bonanza Part II

The easy part was done. We had bought an airplane. Now we had to get busy with new avionics, paint and interior to create our vision of the perfect flying machine.

More “style points,” from a passenger standpoint, come from the installation of a PS Engineering CD player piping music through an SL-15 audio panel for in-flight entertainment.

But what would it look like if we didn’t lavish as much attention to the outside of the airplane? Brian Smith of Wings Aviation Design in Dallas, Texas, worked with us to design a distinctive scheme that’s reminiscent of the latest Beech factory B36TC trim layout and the Jaguar scheme used by Beechcraft in the 2000 model year, but different enough to be one-of-a-kind. As homage to the Beech lineage, the exterior (applied by Artcraft) retains the Beech 50th Anniversary medallions affixed when the airplane was new, in the 50th year of Beech Aircraft—highly polished, of course. Featuring Light Burgundy Metallic paint with Carter Gold “swooshes,” the Project Bonanza isn’t likely to be mistaken on the ramp or flying overhead.

Project Airplane
We took our time, made a lot of decisions and spent a lot of money. We found an airplane that was a good candidate and planned a course of upgrades to turn it into the traveling machine we wanted for business and pleasure. But the process didn’t end there—we’re already thinking about upgrading to the UPSAT CNX80 for GPS WAAS (Wide-Area Augmentation System) capability, and we’ve purchased a Weather Data Link receiver and Air Cell telephone system, which hasn’t been installed yet.

Unless you’re ordering an airplane new from the factory, every plane is a “project airplane.” The trick is to realistically answer questions like:

• What is the level of my experience and training?

• What typical missions will I fly (distance, weather, passengers and payload)?

• What equipment do I need to make those flights safely and economically?

• What should I add to make flying comfortable and enjoyable?

• What additional “nice-to-have”items would I like in my airplane?

• How important are qualities like paint and interior?

• What ownership, operating and upgrade budget do I realistically have?

By honestly answering these and similar questions, you can determine the type of airplane that best fits your needs and budget, and map out a (sometimes multi-year) strategy for turning your “project” into your dream plane. Then—go shopping!


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