Plane & Pilot
Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Mystique Of The Baron

The basic design may be 40 years old, but the 2008 Baron G58 flies with a newborn’s enthusiasm and

I was at Sun 'n Fun two years ago when a subscriber walked up to me and asked a question I wasn't quite ready for: "Why don't you ever write stories about airplanes you don't like?" As the resident "primary" pilot reporter for Plane & Pilot/Pilot Journal, that stopped me cold, but not for long. The answer is that there are few airplanes I don't like. In fact, I've never personally met an airplane I didn't like.

Certainly, some flying machines are better than others in some or all respects—faster, quicker climbing, easier to fly, more comfortable, more economical and, yes, more attractive—and I usually try to point out those differences in every evaluation.

Fact is, practically every airplane has something to recommend it, if not one thing, then a handful of advantages. A few are charismatic charmers capable of bending minds and endearing themselves to practically everyone.

If you're wondering if the new Baron G58 is an airplane I don't like, then you've come to the wrong place. The current version of the Baron 58 is almost impossible not to love.

Over the last 38 years, Beech has gradually improved the Baron to the point where it's really difficult to find things to criticize. True, the basic airframe and wing of today's Baron 58 are nearly identical to those on the original stretched 58 from 1970. The first Baron (the 55) was born in 1961 when Beech decided that if you took a Bonanza and added a second engine, voilà, you'd have a Baron.

Luggage is stored in a compartment in the Baron G58's nose. With full 194-gallon tanks, payload is about 300 pounds.
Perhaps the nicest benefit of such a marriage was that all the positives and none of the negatives were transferred directly from the Bonanza to the Baron. The twin-engine airplane had a conventional, three-member tail, so there was less of the V-tail's inherent yaw instability. Roll and pitch response remained excellent, just as they were with the later straight-tailed Bonanza.

In order to create the first Baron, Beech merely stretched the Travel Air's wings six inches, added an additional six inches to the fuselage and upgraded the two 180 hp engines to 260 hp.

That's a gross oversimplification—of course developing a larger, heavier airplane with more power involved far more than "merely" changing powerplants and stretching and adding span. In order to accommodate the thirstier engines, Walter Beech initially bumped fuel capacity from 112 to 142 gallons, adding other changes to handle the bigger power.


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