This year marks the 25th anniversary of the entry into service for one of business aviation’s most enigmatic aircraft, the star-crossed Beech Starship, which was intended as a replacement for the King Air. As the first aircraft with an all-composite fuselage, the twin-turboprop pusher with radical canard forward design underwent a lengthy development and certification process before finally entering service.
Spectrum Aeronautical has slowed development of the lightweight high-performance S.40 Freedom and S.33 Independence jets due to resource constraints. The company is developing the prototype S.40 at sister firm Rocky Mountain Composites in Spanish Fork, Utah.
In 1983, NBAA convention-goers who happened to be at the static display at Dallas Love Field at the right time witnessed a bit of history when a radical-looking airplane made a flyby. The flyby was the coming-out party for what would become the Beech Starship, an all-composite canard twin-turboprop that looked nothing like any other airplane ever built or even contemplated.
No offense intended to its participants, but aviation progress by the 1980s had become rather mundane by comparison with the incessant leaps and bounds of previous decades. Maybe it was a matter of butting up against the realities of aviation’s maturity, or maybe it was simply a product of the funk enveloping the west at the start of the 1980s.
It’s fitting that the first museum to which Raytheon Aircraft is donating a Beech Starship–the Kansas Aviation Museum–is located in Wichita, the city where the composite twin-turboprop pusher was conceived, designed and built. In June Raytheon Aircraft disclosed to AIN (July, page 1) that it planned to destroy all 50 Starships produced because continued support is cost prohibitive.
The Beech Starship fleet is being destroyed at the behest of manufacturer Raytheon, which owns 40 of the 50 production airplanes built between 1988 and 1995.
A Beech Starship has joined the world’s most famous flying boat and the “world’s fastest aircraft” on exhibit in an Oregon museum, thanks to a donation by Raytheon Aircraft. The three aircraft are among those displayed at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville. The Starship joins Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, an SR-71 Blackbird and more than 50 other historic airplanes and helicopters at the nearly three-year-old museum.
Look for a new twin-engine very light jet to be unveiled at the NBAA Convention next week in Orlando, Fla. Start-up Spectrum Aeronautical, based in Encinitas, Calif., and led by industry veteran–and father of the Beech Starship–Linden Blue, has scheduled an announcement at its exhibit booth on November 8. Its product is the Model 33, a twin-engine jet with composite construction. N322LA is the registration assigned to S/N 0001.
Start-up Spectrum Aeronautical of Los Angeles today unveiled a nine-seat, $3.65 million all-composite very light jet.
Mention Wichita, and most people in the business aviation industry immediately think of Cessna, Raytheon/ Beech, Learjet or Boeing. Aviation history buffs and old-timers are likely to add Laird Airplane, Culver Aircraft, Travel Air or Stearman
to the list. But it’s a good bet that very few, if any, would even mention the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR).
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