Pilot Journal
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Bonanza Hits 60 Strong and Fast!


On its 60th anniversary, the Bonanza is still a true pilot’s airplane


The Bonanza Hits 60 Strong and Fast!Any good design has a timelessness that transcends fashion. Whether you consider a toaster or a car or an airplane, a successful design starts with a good robust understanding of the balance betweenperformance, looks and customer requirements." />

The Bonanza Hits 60 Strong and Fast!The Beech factory has continually improved the basic airplane, and aftermarket modifications are available in a staggering combination of choices and effectiveness. The original Bonanza had four-seats and the late model G36 is a six-seat airplane. The presence of seats is often misunderstood for the ability to load each seat, pile on the baggage and go on any trip with full fuel. In reality, there are few GA airplanes that can reach those goals, and the Bonanza is no exception. A pilot must pay close attention to the CG’s location and load weight to keep the airplane within limits. This can mean leaving fuel or baggage behind.

An abundance of modifications adds fuel, increases gross weight or changes the engine configuration, any of which can change the airplane’s operating characteristics to some degree. One significant engine STC is offered by Tornado Alley Turbo in Ada, Okla. Its system, a turbonormalizer, transforms a Bonanza into a platform capable of maintaining sea-level horsepower to 20,000 feet at fuel flows of 17.5 gph. With 300 hp, the turbo system converts a 36 model Bonanza to a 195- to 210-knot screamer that can keep up with the latest composite airplanes. The modification adds 80 pounds to the aircraft’s empty weight and bumps the gross weight to 4,000 pounds—a welcome addition to the capability and useful load of this sleek airplane.

Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of the Garmin G1000 avionics package, which puts every conceivable bit of info right at the pilot’s fingertips. Sunlight-readable 10-inch displays put all the PFDs within an easy-to-interpret small area, along with graphic maps, airspace, traffic and weather, all configurable to meet the pilot’s preference. The Garmin flat-panel display is more than a gadget; it’s a 21st-century requirement that can display near-real-time weather and TFR information.

The 60th anniversary edition of the Beechcraft G36 Bonanza comes standard with distinctive badges, logos and handpicked color schemes including unique “snake-skin” leather upholstery and trim. Beneath the surface, the new GFC 700 integrated autopilot is standard on every new G36, as is XM Radio for the entertainment system. Propeller deicer and passenger air-conditioning round out a very well-equipped airplane.

The Bonanza may no longer be the apple of the fashion eye, but it turns in solidly respectable performance numbers with the largest passenger cabin in the single-piston engine class. The basic airframe puts in respectable performance numbers with an airplane that’s a joy to fly. Add in the new integrated avionics package, autopilot and datalink information, and the 60th anniversary edition Bonanza is a true pilot’s airplane, still ready to fly anywhere, any place, at any time.



Labels: Piston Singles

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