Saturday, January 1, 2005
The Ultimate V-Tail
This Bonanza has the most famous silhouette in the sky
Pilots don’t agree on much. We argue about virtually everything: Continental versus Lycoming; high wing versus low wing; fixed gear or retractable; the relative merits of turbocharging; and a hundred other things. While we rarely agree, there are a few universal truths: Airspeed is life; you can never have enough power; and the V-tail Bonanza is one of the most beautiful airplanes ever designed.
An Oklahoma oil executive tried to market a V-tailed twin as an aftermarket mod, the Super V, but that airplane fell on its sword, as Beech was already selling the model 95 Travel Air with a pair of 180-hp Lycomings and a conventional tail. The 55 and 58 Barons were successful designs,utilizing the straight-tail Bonanza fuselage and engines rated from 260 to 325 hp. The ultimate production Bonanza upgrade was the 58P Baron, a fast, pressurized twin capable of cruising in the flight levels at 230 knots. (There was even a turboprop Bonanza, the Lightning, that never made it into production.)
By the standards of the late 1940s, the basic airplane was a major accomplishment. Even today, in an age of faster, more comfortable composite designs, Beechcraft Bonanzas stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re considering a restored, original 1947 “straight” 35 or the final 1982 V35B, Bonanzas are consistently among the most in-demand airplanes in the sky.
They’re also among the most modified. Steve Oxman of Riva, Md., owns a 1959 K35 model, although he has made so many mods to it, you might mistake it for a later vintage V35B.
“I bought the airplane in 1996 with a run-out, 250-hp, Continental IO-470, so I knew I’d need to replace it fairly soon,” comments Oxman. “But when the time came, I elected to step up to the 285-hp IO-520-DA.”
In the intervening years, he has added the long, third side window, tip tanks, speed brakes, a one-piece windshield, a modified panel and every piece of avionics imaginable, including a Sandel EHSI, a Garmin 430, an angle-of-attack indicator, an STEC 60-2 autopilot and an amazing ally in higher density traffic areas, the Ryan TCAD.
The truth be told, the Ryan 9900B TCAD is just as happy anywhere it goes because it’s always listening for nearby transponder replies and uses that information to display traffic. An aural “Traffic!” warning alerts pilots to aircraft on a collision course. The 9900B is upgradeable to the full Ryan TCAD, the 9900BX, for pilots who need or want more information.
Oxman’s Bonanza is definitely one of the best of the type that we’ve seen. That’s saying something, considering that Bonanza owners are among the most fanatical of aircraft enthusiasts.
The interior in Oxman’s K-model is all Perrone leather over Oregon Aero foam, fashioned by the legendary Don Stretch of AirTex in Factoryville, Pa. The paint is an immaculate, eye-catching, red scheme that attracts attention everywhere Oxman flies. N12711 has won awards virtually everywhere: Best of Type at Sun ‘n Fun 2001 and Grand Champion the following year; at the AirVenture air show starting in 2002,
Oxman’s model 35 won the Bronze Lindy Award for Contemporary Custom, repeated that honor in 2003 and was the Silver Reserve Grand Champion last year.
Oxman owns a computer software company, OXKO Inc., in Lanham, Md., and the Bonanza is a working business tool. He uses the airplane several times a week, servicing clients throughout the eastern U.S.
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