Textron recognizes Bonanza plane anniversaries at Oshkosh

This year marks a couple of anniversaries for the Wichita-built Beechcraft Bonanza.

The single-engine airplane marks its 70th year of continuous production.

And the American Bonanza Society, a Wichita-based group that represents more than 9,000 Bonanza and Beechcraft owners and enthusiasts, turns 50th this year.

In recognition of the milestone, Textron Aviation has introduced a special American Bonanza Society Sport Package for the piston-engine Bonanza G36, a factory option that includes a classic red and black paint scheme and custom interior.

The company will recognize the ABS anniversary at an event Tuesday afternoon at its booth at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.

A total of 18,000 Bonanzas have been produced by Beech Aircraft Corp. and its successor companies, including Textron Aviation.

“That’s just a testament to the original designers — Ralph Harmon and a small group of people — and their abilities .. to look at the needs of the customer and to meet the needs,” said Doug May, Textron Aviation vice president of piston aircraft.

May said Harmon and his team’s idea for the Bonanza was developed in 1944. But because of Beech’s involvement in the war effort, Harmon and his team did most of their work on developing the airplane when they weren’t on company time. Designing the Bonanza was a “volunteer effort.”

The longevity of the Bonanza “is indicative of the level of quality and commitment of the Beechcrafters of that day,” May said. “It’s also indicative of the work ethic and quality of work that has gone into the Bonanza for 70 years.”

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