- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
Beechcraft Bonanza & Debonair

The Beechcraft Bonanza is a general aviation aircraft introduced in 1947 by The Beech Aircraft Corporation. As of 2007 it is still being produced by Hawker Beechcraft. More than 17,000 Bonanzas have been built.

1964 Beechcraft 35-B33 Debonair
N8833M (sn CD-737)
Photo taken at the
Sun 'n Fun Fly-In April 2007
KLAL - Lakeland, FL USA

Photo © AirplaneMart.com

1959 Beechcraft K35 Bonanza V-Tail
N6076E (sn D-6146)
Picture taken at the
Sun 'n Fun Fly-In April 2007
KLAL - Lakeland, FL USA

Photo © AirplaneMart.com

1970 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza
N1166A (sn E-206)
Image taken at the
Sun 'n Fun Fly-In April 2007
KLAL - Lakeland, FL USA

Photo © AirplaneMart.com

1979 Beechcraft V35B Bonanza V-Tail
N11GM (sn D-10298)
Photograph taken at the
Sun 'n Fun Fly-In April 2007
KLAL - Lakeland, FL USA

Photo © AirplaneMart.com

Designed by a team led by Ralph Harmon, the original model 35 Bonanza was the first truly modern high-performance personal aircraft: a very fast, all-metal, low-wing monoplane at a time when most light aircraft were still made of wood and fabric. The model 35 featured retractable landing gear and its signature V-tail (equipped with a combination elevator-rudder called a ruddervator), which made it both highly efficient and the most distinctive private aircraft in the sky. The prototype 35 Bonanza made its first flight on December 22, 1945, with the first production aircraft debuting as 1947 models.

At the end of World War II two all-metal aircraft emerged, the 35 Bonanza and the Cessna 195, that represented very different approaches to the premium-end of the postwar civil aviation market. With its high wing, seven cylinder radial engine and fixed undercarriage, the Cessna 195 was little more than a continuation of prewar technology; the 35 Bonanza, however, was more like the great fighters developed during the war. Featuring a more powerful and easier to manage horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine, a rakishly streamlined shape, retractable undercarriage and low-wing configuration.

A series of fatal accidents caused many to suspect flaws in the V-tail structural design. An exhaustive study by Beech concluded that the cause was primarily the prevalent use of the Bonanza for long-distance travel in all types of weather, and that the inflight breakups were mainly the result of excursions into extreme turbulence (as might be found in thunderstorms), not any inherent flaw in the design. Other types, such as the Cessna 210, that were similarly employed did not have the same breakup rate as the Bonanza, and a more likely explanation was that the leading edges of the stabilizers were cantilevered too far ahead of the main spars. FAA issued two Airworthiness Directives covering the V-tail. The first (AD 2002-21-13) applied only to the earliest 35, A35, and B35 models built in 1947 to 1950, and mandated a detailed inspection and repair procedure. The second (AD 94-20-04 R2) required a one-time inspection of the empennage structure, reinforced the need for correct balancing of the control surfaces and tensioning of the cables, and included the installation of a cuff securing the leading edge of the stabilizers to the fuselage skins.

In 1982 the V-tail Bonanza was dropped from production, though more than 6,000 V-tail models are still flying today. In general aviation circles, the epithet "fork-tailed doctor killer" became a familiar denigration of the V-tail model. Many V-tailed Model 35 Bonanzas are still flying, and they command a premium price on the used aircraft market.

The conventional-tail Model 33 continued in production until 1995. Still built today is the Model 36 Bonanza, a longer-bodied, straight-tail variant of the original design, introduced in 1968.

All Bonanzas share an unusual feature: the yoke and rudder pedals are interconnected by a system of flexible bungees which assist in keeping the airplane in coordinated flight during turns. The bungee system allows the pilot to make coordinated turns using the yoke alone, or with minimal rudder input, during cruise flight. On takeoff increased right-rudder pressure is still required to overcome torque and P-factor. In the landing phase the bungee system must be over-ridden by the pilot when making crosswind landings and cross-controlled inputs are required to keep the nose of the airplane aligned with the runway centerline without drifting left or right. This feature started with the V-tail and persists on the current production model.

The twin-engine variant of the Bonanza is called the Baron, whereas the Twin Bonanza is a different design and not based on the original single-engine Bonanza fuselage.


Model 33 Debonair/Bonanza (BE33)

  • Beechcraft 35-33 (1960)
  • Beechcraft 35-A33 (1961)
  • Beechcraft 35-B33 (1962-1964)
  • Beechcraft 35-C33 (1965-1967)
  • Beechcraft 35-C33A (1966-1967)
  • Beechcraft E33 (1968-1969)
  • Beechcraft E33A (1968)
  • Beechcraft E33C (1968-1969)
  • Beechcraft F33 (1970)
  • Beechcraft F33A (1970-1994)
  • Beechcraft F33C (1970)
  • Beechcraft G33 (1972-1980)

Model 35 Bonanza (BE35)

  • Beechcraft 35 (1947-1948)
  • Beechcraft T-34 Mentor
  • Beechcraft A35 (1949)
  • Beechcraft B35 (1950)
  • Beechcraft C35 (1951-1952)
  • Beechcraft D35 (1953)
  • Beechcraft E35 (1954)
  • Beechcraft F35 (1955)
  • Beechcraft G35 (1956)
  • Beechcraft H35 (1957)
  • Beechcraft J35 (1958)
  • Beechcraft K35 (1959)
  • Beechcraft M35 (1960)
  • Beechcraft N35 (1961)
  • Beechcraft 035 (1961) Experimental version with laminar flow airfoil and redesigned landing gear; only one built
  • Beechcraft P35 (1962-1963)
  • Beechcraft S35 (1964-1965)
  • Beechcraft V35 (1966-1982)
  • Beechcraft V35 TC (1966-1967) - turbocharged engine
  • Beechcraft V35A (1968-1969)
  • Beechcraft V35A TC (1968-1969) - turbocharged engine
  • Beechcraft V35B (1970-1982)
  • Beechcraft V35B TC (1970) - turbocharged engine

Model 36 Bonanza (BE36) Still in production as of 2006.

  • Beechcraft 36 (1968-1969)
  • Beechcraft A36 (1970-2005)
  • Beechcraft A36TC (1979-1981) - turbocharged engine
  • Beechcraft B36TC (1982-2002) - turbocharged engine and extended wing
  • Beechcraft G36 (2006-present) - glass cockpit update of the A36 with the Garmin G1000 system
  • Beechcraft UA-22A
  • Beechcraft QU-22B
  • Beechcraft Propjet Bonanza (A36) - standard aircraft modified by Tradewind Turbines with an Allison 250-B17F/2 turboprop engine (Original STC by Soloy).
  • Beechcraft Turbine Air Bonanza - B36TC modified by West Pacific Air, LLC and Rocket Engineering with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-21 turboprop engine.

International Variants

  • Parasto - this is the standard F33 (1970) variant of the Bonanza that Iran has reverse engineered and is manufacturing.

Popular culture

  • On February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died when their Beechcraft B35 Bonanza crashed during takeoff in the middle of a snowstorm (see The Day the Music Died).
  • On February 7, 1981, Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak crashed his turbocharged A36TC Bonanza on takeoff from Santa Cruz Sky Park. NTSB investigation found that he was not endorsed to fly high performance aircraft.
  • On March 19, 1982, Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed while flying in a Beechcraft Bonanza with pilot Andrew Aycock and band mate Rachel Youngblood.
  • On April 7, 1982, former Austrian Formula One driver Harald Ertl and other members of his family died in a crash of a Model 36 Bonanza (BE36), due to engine failure, that was flown by his brother in law, Dr. Jörg Becker-Hohensee.
  • On March 31, 1984, Robert J. Moriarty flew the Beechcraft V-35 Bonanza, N111MS, owned by Mike Smith of Mike Smith Speed Conversions in Johnson, Kansas, through the arches under the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  • Former Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves pitcher Jim Hardin died in a crash of his Beech 35-C33A on March 9, 1991.
  • On March 13, 2006, game show host Peter Tomarken used his Bonanza A36 to pick up a person who needed treatment at the UCLA Medical Center when his plane suddenly crashed into the Santa Monica Bay. He and his wife were killed in the crash.

Military Operators

  • Argentina, Brazil, Haiti, Iran, Israel, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Spain, Thailand, United States

QU-22 Pave Eagle
The QU-22 was a Beech 36/A36 Bonanza modified during the Vietnam War to be an electronic monitoring signal relay aircraft, developed under the project name "Pave Eagle" for the United States Air Force. A reduction geared Continental IO-520 engine was used to reduce its noise signature, much like the later Army-Lockheed YO-3A. These aircraft were intended to be used as unmanned drones to monitor sensors along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and report troop and supply movements. However when the project was put into operation in 1968, the drones were all flown by pilots of the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron.

6 YQU-22A prototypes (modifications of the Beech 33 Debonair) were combat-tested in 1968 and two lost during operations, with a civilian test pilot killed. 27 QU-22Bs were modified, 13 in 1969 and 14 in 1970, with 6 lost in combat. Two Air Force pilots were killed in action. All of the losses were due to engine failures or effects of turbulence.

1957 Beechcraft H35 Bonanza V-Tail
N5496D (sn D-5263)
Photo taken at the
Sun 'n Fun Fly-In April 2007
KLAL - Lakeland, FL USA

Photo © AirplaneMart.com

1979 Beechcraft F33A Bonanza
N1771T (sn CE-859)
Photo taken at the
Sun 'n Fun Fly-In April 2007
KLAL - Lakeland, FL USA

Photo © AirplaneMart.com

1952 Beechcraft C35 Bonanza V-Tail
N5975C (sn D-3327)
Photo taken at the
Sun 'n Fun Fly-In April 2007
KLAL - Lakeland, FL USA

Photo © AirplaneMart.com

Specifications (1953 model D35)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 3 passengers
  • Length: 25 ft 2 in (7.67 m)
  • Wingspan: 32 ft 10 in (10.01 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
  • Wing area: 178 ft² (16.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,675 lb (760 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,725 lb (1,236 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Continental E-185-11, 205 hp (153 kW)
  • Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0192
  • Drag area: 3.48 ft² (0.32 m²)
  • Aspect ratio: 6.20


  • Maximum speed: 191 mph (166 kn, 306 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 63 mph (55 kn, 101 km/h)
  • Range: 779 mi (677 NM, 1,247 km)
  • Rate of climb: 1,100 ft/min (5.6 m/s)
  • Lift-to-drag ratio: 13.8
Last updated November 11, 2007