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Beechcraft of the Month

N74TG: An Autobiography 1968 36 Bonanza

Trae Gray, Coal County, Oklahoma

I was born on April 23, 1968, in Wichita, Kansas. I am the third of my siblings so they named me E-3. I had an IO-520B Continental with a McCauley prop. I was covered with Matterhorn white, yellow lemon, and antique gold, and labeled N6222V.

Beechcraft of the Month Archive


N74TG: An Autobiography 1968 36 Bonanza

March 1, 2017

I was born on April 23, 1968, in Wichita, Kansas. I am the third of my siblings so they named me E-3. I had an IO-520B Continental with a McCauley prop. I was covered with Matterhorn white, yellow lemon, and antique gold, and labeled N6222V.

Continuous Improvement 1955 F35 N33EB

February 1, 2017

My love affair with the Bonanza started in 1948 when I was still a kid in high school. A factory new Bonanza crashed into the mountain that rose above my hometown.  The pilot wasn’t hurt but the Bonanza was damaged from hitting the trees.  When we kids found out about it, we hiked up to the wreck.

The American Bonanza Society's 50th Anniversary

January 1, 2017

The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the American Bonanza Society. This is an outstanding achievement for all who have been a part of ABS since Dr. B.J. McClanahan and Henry Schlossberg mailed the letter seen on this month’s cover to 200 Beechcraft Bonanza owners “for the purpose of exchanging ideas, experiences, modifications, and other matters specifically pertaining to the Beechcraft Bonanza.” In the years since ABS has created a worldwide support network for pilots and owners of Beech Bonanzas, Barons, Debonairs, and Travel Airs. 

The Ultimate Family Airplane

December 1, 2016

I started flying in 1975. Cessna had a program at the time where if you paid $100/month for 12 months, you were guaranteed your license. This covered the airplane and gas, instructor, and all training materials. My wife Mary and I were recent college graduates, had been married about two years, and quite poor. But she was supportive and we scraped together the money for flight training. I trained at Tri-State Aero at Evansville, Indiana Regional Airport (KEVV) and got my Private Pilot certificate in 37.5 hours. With my license in hand, some flying experience, and being in my mid-20s, I wanted to fly jets. I tried to enlist, but this was right after Vietnam and the military didn’t want pilots. So I missed out on flying jets.

Never in My Wildest Imagination

November 1, 2016

After graduating from Louisiana Tech I landed a job with Chaparral Beechcraft in Addison, Texas, as a flight instructor. In addition to instructing (CFI, CFII, and MEI) I also ferried airplanes between the company’s four locations in Texas. I had the fortunate opportunity to visit the Beech factory twice during my tenure with Chaparral, picking up new airplanes for two of my students. Both were 1984 models: one an A36 and the other a Baron 58. Both had the new turbine-style instrumentation and dual yoke design introduced in that model year. I absolutely fell in love with Beechcraft airplanes during my time at Chaparral, but I never in my wildest imagination thought that I would ever be able to afford to own one personally.

Keeping It in the Family: 1960 M35 N11GG

October 1, 2016

N11GG was not always N11GG. Born as a 1960 M35 Bonanza, serial number D-6184, N11GG was originally N696Q and sent from the factory to Robert Graf Inc., a Beechcraft distributor in Omaha, Nebraska. Twenty-one different owners have called D-6184 their own. It has been extensively modified, maintained, and operated since its birth 56 years ago. Pouring through the logbooks was similar to opening a time capsule. The data that lives therein tells a compelling story not just of an airplane, but a long history of passionate owners. As the latest set of owners, my family and I like to continue that tradition that has flown through the generations.

Finding Our Bonanza

August 1, 2016

Ever since I was born I’ve loved airplanes. My dad pointed them out to me in the sky as he carried me out of the hospital where I was born. By the time I was one, I pointed out every one that flew overhead. “Cessna” and “Southwest” were two of the first words I learned to say. My dad used to be in a Cessna 172 partnership but sold out soon after I was born for lack of time. However, his partner would take us up from time to time.

Bonanza in a Barn 1949 A35 N8511A

July 1, 2016

Within antique/classic circles, it’s easy to forget that not every airplane needs to be stripped down to its data plate and brought back up a rivet or rib stitch at a time. We forget that it’s possible to take an airplane that’s more or less flying, and keep it flying while doing a “progressive restoration.” You periodically put it down, fix or restore a small part of it, then get it back into the air before yielding to the temptation to go deeper… which always, always grounds it for much longer than expected. We went the progressive restoration route with our 1949 A35 Bonanza. Of course, it helped immensely that we started out with a classic found-in-a-barn airplane.

Frozen in Time (1973 A36 N505TT)

June 1, 2016

Having undergone no major upgrades or refurbishments, N505TT, a well-maintained A36, appears unchanged from the day it left the factory.

Our Mini Airliner (1979 B55 N60520)

May 1, 2016

My Beechcraft roots go back many years. My father owned three Bonanzas, starting back before I was born. I grew up flying with my father and family in Bonanzas. There was a short stint, right around the time I received my pilot’s license, that we did not own a Beech. That lasted for a few short years, before my father purchased a 1976 Pressurized Baron right after I graduated college. By that time, I had all my ratings except a Commercial certificate, so I racked up a good amount of time in the P-Baron over several years. N60520, a 1979 B55 Baron, replaced our 58P in 2007. Some would say that it was a downgrade, but we argue the contrary.

A Diamond in the Dust

April 1, 2016

In 2011, while on a business trip, I decided to stop at the Oxnard airport to look at a 1963 P35 Bonanza for sale. I was compelled to look at it because, among other things, it had such low time on the airframe – less than 1,200 hours. What I found was not only a beautifully preserved airplane, but an owner who had a very interesting story to tell about how he found it.

Evergreening an A36 (1975 A36 Bonanza N366HP)

March 1, 2016

The love affair began a little over five years ago when I purchased N366HP after a yearlong search for just the right low-time, no damage history, well-sorted A36. In weighing between 12-volt and 24-volt, useful load, periods of high factory build quality, maintenance history, engine horsepower, etc., the useful load became a significant factor to enable my family of four to travel cross-country with luggage and full fuel. Larry Ball’s book They Called Me Mr. Bonanza (purchased at the ABS tent at Oshkosh) proved an indispensable pre-purchase read, so I narrowed the search to a mid-to-late 1970s model starting with serial number E-632 (introduction of the long seat track) with exceptionally documented maintenance, leather interior, nice paint, upgraded avionics, and an IO-550B engine.

Son of a Tuskegee Airman 1969 Model 36 N3477A

February 1, 2016

I  can’t remember not being around airplanes. I vividly remember, at an early age, flying with my father often. My father, Lincoln Ragsdale Sr., PhD, was a Tuskegee Airman. In 1945, after graduating from the aviation program in Tuskegee, Alabama, and commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was transferred to Luke Army Air Force Base near Phoenix for advanced gunnery training in the P-51 Mustang.

On the Cover: Realizing a Dream

January 1, 2016

I am the proud owner of a 1982 Bonanza V35B, serial number D-10385, one of only 21 50th Anniversary Edition V35B models manufactured. Beechcraft discontinued manufacturing the V35B model after 1982. Only 17 V-tail Bonanzas rolled off of the Wichita assembly line after D-10385.

The Airplane I Imagined

December 1, 2015

A View from the Top

October 1, 2015

Value and Performance In a 1966 Barron

September 1, 2015

N434MC is B55 Baron serial number TC-969 that rolled off the assembly line when America was a very different place culturally and politically. After nearly five decades of service the iconic design, well interpreted in this serial number, continues to enhance the lives of its owners with cost-effective, high-performance, flexible travel. This proves that the airframe technology of "then" is still the best available today.

Confidence, Strength, Agility, and Performance (N6999N 1975 V35B Bonanza)

August 1, 2015

As a neophyte pilot I found myself at the crossroads of not having an aircraft to fly. As with most pilots, I preferred to fly the airplane in which I had earned my license. After all, it was a known commodity. I had taken instruction in a Piper PA-28 Cherokee from a U.S. Air Force instructor pilot whose mantra was SAFETY, which later would guide me in much of my aircraft rental, leasing and ultimately ownership.

A Master's Bonanza (V35, N3704Q)

May 1, 2015

Owning a Bonanza was a lifelong dream, and when I became an owner it was one of the best days I can remember. I've owned my V35 since 1993 and had been maintaining it in my shop, Southern Aero Services in Griffin, Georgia, for two customers before that. So my name is in the logs back to 1986. I had owned two Cessna 172 aircraft before the Bonanza, and I also own a Cessna 150 I use as a courtesy aircraft for my customers in the Atlanta area.

Golden Wedding Anniversary (B55, N47TG)

April 1, 2015

Some couples travel to an exotic place for their 50th wedding anniversary. Others enjoy a beach or mountain condo. For our golden anniversary present from us to us, my wife Kathryn and I bought a Baron. Our 1980 B55 is also the first Beechcraft in our 35 years of aircraft ownership.

Beeches to the Beaches

March 1, 2015

For several years now my wife and I have been vacationing in the Bahamas along with various other couples from the Austin, Texas, area. We all own Bonanzas. In June or July, when our summer schedules line up, we load the airplanes and head east. This year our flight consisted of John Harlan's 1968 V35A, Glenn Watson's 1975 A36, and my 1977 V35B.

A Lifetime in Beechcraft (G36, N20VP)

February 1, 2015

This past March I picked up my new G36 Bonanza (N20VP) at the Beech factory in Wichita.  If you ever get the opportunity to go to the Beechcraft Delivery Center and do this, it's a great day.  I spent a couple of afternoons flying with Tom Turner as part of my BPPP training, followed by three days of simulator training at FlightSafety at Beech Field.  I feel with FlightSafety and the time I spent with Tom in the right seat that I had the best of both worlds when it comes to training.

A Very Rare Breed Indeed! (35R, N2941V)

January 1, 2015

It was the summer after my 5th grade year when I first saw the inside of a small airplane, a Piper Cherokee, when my sister's father-in-law took my brother John and me to Hartford-Brainard airport in Connecticut. I was hooked on aviation from that point on. I got my A&P certificate and my pilot's license in New York in 1978. I learned to fly at Long Island's Islip MacArthur airport, a very big controlled airport with multiple runways.

An Iconic Airplane (F33A, N1855S)

December 1, 2014

The Bonanza is an iconic airplane. It has tremendous ramp appeal.  It turns heads regardless of it being an early V-tail, a 33 series, or the latest G36.   Everyone who knows airplanes knows the Bonanza.

The Legacy Continues (S35, N352RH)

November 1, 2014

The Hackler family connection with Bonanzas goes back to Russ Sr.'s first flight back in the late sixties while in veterinarian school in Missouri. He was invited by a classmate to fly to Montana during summer break in his classmate's father's plane.  After grabbing a piece of chocolate cake and a warm coke, Russ jumped in the back for an uncomfortable but life-changing flight. Despite hanging on to his stomach on the hot and bouncy afternoon flight, he was hooked on flying… in a Bonanza.

Endings and Beginnings (N11R, A36TC)

October 1, 2014

I am one of the fortunate few who know some of those answers, at least as pertains to EA-120, a 1980 A36TC Beechcraft Bonanza. The dignity and integrity of a machine that offers purpose and protection from harm is worthy of a pilot's attention. Before the airplane story, I should explain that I am lucky enough to have a third-class medical certificate after a medical crisis nearly put the kibosh on my flying. My aviation experience began over 40 years ago with the purchase of a $4,000 1967 C150, N3881J. My beginnings saw me safely through an additional eight airplanes, singles and twins, until 2007. No accidents, incidents, violations, or reprimands, just cancer, my nemesis. I'm now again grateful for the left seat.

Fifty Years in the Family N5050X 1952 C35

September 1, 2014

During the summer of 1964, my mom was growing weary of the hours spent perusing that yellow newspaper we all know so well in search of a good aircraft. On the drive to go see one particular airplane, my mother nonchalantly said to my father, "If it's red, buy it."  I am sure angels could be heard singing and a warm glow emanated from behind that V-tail as the hangar doors slid open to reveal – in all its redness – what would become a member of the family for 50 years.

Beechcraft Employees Flying Club

August 1, 2014

Just to the north of where brand-new Beechcraft King Airs, Barons, and Bonanzas roll off the assembly line at Beech Field (KBEC) is the home to one of the country's oldest and most historic flying clubs.

Bonanza (V35B, N3735B)

July 1, 2014

This month's featured Beechcraft is a special airplane in many ways.  First of all, it has a passionate owner, Mike Burris of Victoria, Texas.  Mr. Burris first soloed at the tender age of 13. Of course he repeated this act once he reached the legal age of 16.  His father was a Piper man, so Mike's solo flight was in a Tri-Pacer before he moved into a Comanche.  Along the way, as a student pilot he flew his first Beech, which happened to be a Staggerwing.

Not all Vintage Bonanzas are the Same (35, N3738N)

June 1, 2014

Over the years I have owned several Bonanza models (V35B, F33A, A36, and 35) and a Staggerwing Beech. My current Bonanza is a 1947 model, the first year they were manufactured. This aircraft has been a learning experience. I can understand why the Bonanza was a good replacement for the executive-hauling Staggerwing. It is cheaper to operate and is all metal, no wood and fabric like the Staggerwing. In 1989 I traded the Staggerwing for an F33A. The F33A was a better airplane for my wife to fly and was a joy to fly.

Flying a Baron 58 for Diabetes (58, N30TB)

May 1, 2014

Beechcraft is well known for quality. I would add ruggedness and efficiency in occasional extreme conditions - including severe turbulence over the Pacific and landing at the North Pole.

A Beginner's View of Formation Flying (V35, N3706Q)

April 1, 2014

It was a beautiful day in Puget Sound, with sunlit mountains, puffy clouds, and sparkling waters…at least that's what they said. You couldn't have proven it by me – all I saw was the lead aircraft. From the time we rolled onto the runway until the time we rolled off 40 minutes later, I never took my eyes off of Jim's plane. Specifically, I never took my eyes off the cowling/flap gap alignment to the point where I missed some hand signals from the cockpit, but more of that later.

New Life for an Old Gal (N1767G)

February 1, 2014

If you have been flying as a VFR only pilot, we have a lot in common. While 33 years of VFR flying has been a lot of fun, from the time I earned my Private pilot certificate in 1980 through just recently when I bought my first airplane, I now embark on a new endeavor: getting my instrument ticket.

A Jewel and a Joy to Fly (G33, N48JL)

January 1, 2014

Some 10 years ago my partner and I owned a Mooney M20M. We loved the fuel economy but hardly loved the space. Anybody who flies a Mooney will tell you if you don't know the person sitting next to you well, you'll know them after even the shortest flight. No elbow room whatsoever.

Flying High (36, N2111Q)

December 1, 2013

Who knows why some people seek out flight and others fear the experience? I have a picture of myself at six years old in a shirt and tie, with a red airplane on the tie. By the age of eight, after endlessly begging my parents for a ride in an airplane, I finally found myself on a DC-3 at Midway Airport, Chicago, heading for Billy Mitchell Field in Milwaukee where my grandparents awaited my arrival. Over 60 years later, I finally have the plane of my dreams, and I still feel the thrill of that eight-year-old boy each time I leave the ground. I feel so fortunate to have a beautiful machine at my whim and a beautiful country to fly it in.

The Obvious Choice (A36, N121YP)

November 1, 2013

My start in flying was fairly late in life, but my interest had begun many, many years earlier as a child. My uncle had been a bomber pilot in World War II. After the war ended he went to work flying for Delta Air Lines. Every time I saw him he would talk to me about flying. He would tell me about where he flew, the people he would meet, and technical things about flying. You could easily tell he truly loved his job and wanted to share everything about aviation with anyone who would listen.

Beechcraft Extreme Makeover (E55, N1832W)

October 1, 2013

There is nothing like flying a Beechcraft, especially when you have the opportunity to fly all over the country for business. Yes, there is also an occasional golf trip to Myrtle Beach, several excursions to the Bahamas, or a family trip to Ohio and Virginia.

A Midwest Bonanza (A36TC, N995EG)

September 1, 2013

My love affair with Bonanzas began where I learned to fly in the heartland of aviation –New Philadelphia, Ohio (KPHD). After a four-year hitch in the USAF working on B-52 weapons systems, I returned home to begin my college education, which included aviation flight technology. I completed my Private Pilot certificate during 1971-'72.  During this period, I regularly saw beautiful V-tail Bonanzas come and go at KPHD.

A Passion for Flying (A36, N3333A)

August 1, 2013

Shortly after the start of WWII, my father, Charles, enlisted in the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet. After his commission, he made it through flight school and spent his tour of duty flying the B-25 Mitchell twin-engine medium bomber. He logged his last flight in June 1945, just after V-E Day, and never flew again. The Army pilot wings on my panel just below the VSI were his, so I feel as though he's with me wherever I fly.

The Thrill of the Ride (E33, N7150N)

July 1, 2013

The thrill of riding in the doors-off cargo bay of a Huey UH-1 made up for many of the hardships experienced during Uncle Sam's expenses-paid tour of Southeast Asia as far as I was concerned. After visiting with numerous pilots of those wonderful aircraft, I was convinced that flying was for me. However, by the time I had an opportunity to be accepted into Army helicopter flight school my tour was nearly over and civilian life was calling.

A Leap of Faith (V35B, N9171Q)

June 1, 2013

It was an hour interview.  Two members of the seller's family, and two of their lawyers, occupied the room. I thought we were buying an airplane, not interviewing to adopt one.  I was wrong. The children of the deceased owner of N9171Q, a 1970 V35B, were determined to give the plane a new home that would be better than the one their father had given her.  They had too many fond memories of the Bonanza to let it go to someone for "training" or to someone that wanted her for parts. A leap of faith by the family and its new prospective owners, Tim and Steve, sealed the fate of N9171Q. Bonanza Associates was allowed to purchase the plane.  The complete story of the purchase and formation of the partnership was published in ABS Magazine in January 2005.

1975 (V35B, N4089S)

May 1, 2013

I am a latecomer to aviation. My first airplane ride was in 1978 at the age of 22 in a Lockheed 1011. My first general aviation flight was in a Cessna 190 at age 27.  Even with that I didn't catch the aviation bug. What drove me to become a pilot was that my job often took me away from home, and I would miss my daughter's activities while away on business.  So to shorten my business travel time I learned to fly.  This permitted me to build a business and still allowed time to be a father.

Baron (E55, SN961)

April 1, 2013

Throughout over 35 years as an airline pilot for United Airlines I was involved in general aviation, first through flying clubs and then through ownership. I discovered long ago that I like airplane partnerships. The partnership arrangement has made it possible for me to fly better and more expensive airplanes than I could afford on my own. N1BF is the third Beechcraft twin I have owned in the last 21 years, and all were partnerships with one, two, or three other pilots.

All the Way Down to South America in a 1963 P35 Bonanza (P35, N142TG)

March 1, 2013

Since my friend Juan Carlos Parini some years ago let me fly his 1959 V-tail Bonanza on a 150 nautical mile trip from Bella Vista to Asuncion in our country Paraguay, I knew a Bonanza should be the plane to have. I enjoyed that flight so much that right away I started to seek for a V-tail in the many Internet pages that offer planes for sale. Charmed all my life with the beautiful lines of this wonderful airplane, plus that unforgettable flight, I made a quick decision.

An Already Perfect Airplane (A36, N263EA)

February 1, 2013

My first flight was November 1, 1986. We had recently purchased a home (a fixer upper) next to a small community airport, Millard (KMLE), on the southwest side of Omaha.  My wife Judy says I could not mow a straight line because I was always watching the planes in the pattern. The FBO had a sign advertising a quick introductory flight, and Judy purchased one for me. As they say, that's how it all started.

Bonanza Partnership: Wow, What a Difference! (V35B, N9440Q)

January 1, 2013

My love affair with the V-tail started in 2009. For many years I was the perennial renter of airplanes. It wasn't until I met my partner that I decided to finally purchase a plane… although it initially wasn't with my partner Andy Reinach, and it wasn't a Bonanza.

A Dream Pays Off (B58TC, N607GS)

December 1, 2012

I am an avid reader of ABS Magazine and a Beechcraft owner.  Every month I read the story about the plane on the front cover, and I often think, "I've got a better story than that."

Now or Never (V35A, N7915R)

November 1, 2012

I first became acquainted with a Bonanza in 1958. I was working as a line boy at Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky, at an FBO that provided flight training in Aeronca Champs ("Airknockers").  Another line boy and I were instructed to get the gunk off the cowling of a doctor's new Bonanza. The other line boy mixed up something and I began spraying it on the Bonanza's cowling.  I immediately saw large flakes of paint coming off the nose of the Bonanza.

The Speed of a Bonanza (P35, N8665M)

October 1, 2012

My fascination with flying did not develop until my senior year at Texas A&M University, when I went out to Easterwood Airport, located in College Station Texas, and took a $10 introductory ride. It was then I knew flying was something I had to master. After graduation, and with the financial help from mom and dad, I finished my private license and enrolled in a fast-track school at Dallas Love Field for my commercial, instrument, and flight instructor ratings. I went on to obtain airframe and powerplant ratings, an ATP (my rating ride was in a Beech 18), and eventually an airline career with a major airline with type ratings in the DC-9 and Boeing 777.

Restoration of a Classic (A35, N149DS)

September 1, 2012

In 1961, as a 14-year-old son of a truck driver in the tiny town of Decatur, Arkansas, the life of an aviator and a career as an Air Force pilot were beyond comprehension. Then something happened that would set the course for the rest of my years. My adult brother Lex was taking flying lessons and invited me to experience my first airplane ride with his instructor. It was only a couple of trips around the pattern at a grass strip in neighboring Siloam Springs, but it instilled in me a voracious passion for flying that still drives me to this day. Soon my oldest brother, Verl, was also bitten by the flying bug, and he eventually partnered with Lex to purchase an A35 Bonanza. They repainted, reupholstered, renovated, and upgraded the plane until it was absolutely pristine. That experience started Verl on a life-long hobby of restoring old airplanes and cars.

Oshkosh Display Airplane (V35B, N1120M)

July 1, 2012

The story of my Bonanza begins in my childhood. I was born the year that man landed on the moon. I grew up with the human awakening to technology, the Concord, the 747 Jumbo, communications, video, Internet, etc. Like many children, I dreamed of being a pilot and flying to unknown horizons. In my imagination I saw myself in a uniform and flying a big plane; economics wouldn't matter, I just knew I had to do it.

From Student Pilot to CFll (G36, N88PL)

June 1, 2012

Since my early years, I have been interested in airplanes. Before the age of 10 I read in the old World Book Encyclopedia about how flight controls work, and dreamed of flying myself. Since nobody in my immediate family had an airplane, and the financial resources of an unemployed student did not allow pursuit of aviation dreams independently, I remained earthbound. My first ride in an airplane occurred at age 13 when I scraped together the 10 dollars required to get a short ride in a floatplane at Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. It left a lasting and very favorable impression.

1984 (A36, N524CN)

May 1, 2012

In the late ’80s at Hanscom Field (KBED) near Boston, Massachusetts, general aviation was alive and well. At that time I was a line boy at my parents’ flight school – fueling, cleaning, and servicing small airplanes. It seemed our planes were always in the air teaching the next generation of aviators. Due to its location just west of Boston, Hanscom was not only home to our buzzing flight school, but also the home base for many bizjets. Even in today’s economy (almost 30 years later), the airport is still a hub of activity for general aviation.

1955 (F35, N4254B)

April 1, 2012

As a proud Bonanza owner, I must say that although N4254B is not the typical “show plane” that you normally see featured in this magazine, she does belong to me, cruises at 158 mph indicated on about 11 gph, gets compliments everywhere we go, and completes me.

Flying the Dream (C33, N2770T)

March 1, 2012

Ever since I was five years old I wanted to fly. My dream in life was to own an airplane and a home with a runway. In 1962, at the age of 15, I started living the dream and took flying lessons in a 1941 Aeronca Chief. My father was an A&P mechanic who worked part time at Huron County Memorial Airport in Bad Axe, Michigan, and I worked with him from the age of nine. I basically spent all of my free time at the airport, and I somehow convinced the school principal to let me ride the school bus to the airport each day.

Baron (58P, N17ES)

February 1, 2012

I was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, when the runway was a dirt strip and the Great Silver Fleet came once each day. What excitement it was to just go out to the airport with my dad and watch this beautiful silver DC-3 come to pick up a few passengers and go off into the night.

Baron (95-B55, N52KM)

January 1, 2012

When the April 2010 ABS Magazine arrived, I was pleased to see it featured a series of articles about the early model Barons in commemoration of 50 years of Baron production. One of those articles described N77MW, the first Baron that I encountered way back in 1970. Sander Friedman recounted the history of that fine aircraft, including a note about the former owner of N77MW, John Serrell.  John was the gracious and generous father of my college buddy Skip Serrell, and I was their guest on a Spring Break trip to the Caribbean in N77MW.  It was then and there that I was bitten by the Baron bug.

1979 (A36, N54DG)

December 1, 2011

My wife, Sue, and I live in Bishop, California. Bishop is located in the Owens Valley – the deepest valley in the lower 48 states – on the east side of the great eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada. Bishop is south of Mono Lake, which is on the east entrance to Yosemite National Park. Our county – Inyo County – is larger than the state of Vermont, and has 18,000 people. Both the highest and lowest points in the lower 48 states are located in Inyo County: Mt. Whitney and Death Valley.

Debonair (N33MZ)

November 1, 2011

The first time I ever saw “Shopdog” was when I was asked by a friend and neighbor to perform an out-of-state, pre-purchase inspection on a 1964 B33 Debonair found in a colored picture ad. The picture itself would have been enough to deter most prospective buyers – an overall white and dark red airplane with untrimmed black tip tanks and large 12-inch “N” numbers above a black stripe on the fuselage. It was far from attractive.

1976 (58P, N121PE)

October 1, 2011

It was a perfect summer day at Council Bluffs, Iowa, back in 1973. The annual air show gave eight-year-old me my first close-up look at airplanes, and hooked me for the rest of my life. After an amazing performance in a bright red Pitts, the pilot shut off the engine and spun her around while he stood up and waved to everyone. I never met the pilot, but to me he was a hero and I wanted to be like him. It would be many years before I realized my dream of becoming a pilot and airplane owner.

1970 (V35B, N9993)

September 1, 2011

My dad, Earl Smith, grew up on what was known as Blytheville Air Force Base. Located in Blytheville, Arkansas, the base was later renamed Eaker Air Force Base in honor of General Ira Eaker, an air pioneer and second commander of the Eighth Air Force during World War II.

1984 (B36TC, N6829W)

August 1, 2011

In the spring of 1982, I found myself completing four years of medical school and five years of medical residency, having worked over a hundred hours per week for most of that time. I had purchased a Skyhawk four years before, but going into medical practice I calculated that I finally had the ability to reward myself for my hard work and own a high-performance airplane (furniture for the living room could wait). I had never even considered a Bonanza, figuring it was way out of my league. Instead, I had my heart set on a Cessna Skylane RG.

Oshkosh Display Airplane (V35, N87565)

July 1, 2011

The story of my Bonanza begins in my childhood. I was born the year that man landed on the moon. I grew up with the human awakening to technology, the Concord, the 747 Jumbo, communications, video, Internet, etc. Like many children, I dreamed of being a pilot and flying to unknown horizons. In my imagination I saw myself in a uniform and flying a big plane; economics wouldn’t matter, I just knew I had to do it.

Model (35, N4525V)

June 1, 2011

I was very lucky to have been raised by a pilot/father who instilled the passion of flying and love of airplanes in me during my younger years. This led to the desire to earn my pilot’s license and own a plane. During those early years, hanging out at the Lamesa, Texas, airport, I noticed the V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza and how fantastic they looked on the ramp and during flight. What a plane!

Bonanza (V35B, N4572A)

May 1, 2011

My love affair with flying began as a young boy when I'd sit in the dismantled T-6 aircraft bodies across from the original home of the CAF (then-Confederate Air Force) in my hometown of Mercedes, Texas. Coming from a poor family, flying seemed so far in the distance, I thought that's all it would ever be.

Baron (B55, N7904K)

April 1, 2011

While in college in 1973, I rented a Piper J3 Cub and took a friend air camping in northern California. On the way home to San Jose, we landed at Woodland Watts airport to wait for the summer fog to clear from the coast. Soon, a brand new Baron B55 landed and taxied to Woodland Beechcraft, the engines barking seductively. The paint glistened in the sun as the pilot shut down and climbed out, greeting his mechanic. I looked inside and smelled the new interior, heard the tinkle of the cooling cylinders. This left a lasting impression on me: the sound, the quality, the beauty, and style. I thought if any material thing in this world says you have arrived, it is a Baron.

Bonanza (V35B, N9430Q)

March 1, 2011

Owning a Bonanza has been a goal of mine since my first ride in my uncle’s 1966 V35, back in 1982. I was infatuated with aviation even before that flight, but that experience was the one that, even at a young age, made me realize the outstanding performance and quality of a Bonanza.

Montana Bonanza (S35, N8837M)

February 1, 2011

I learned to fly in 1996. I had owned a Cessna 182 for seven years, and the engine was getting to be high time and starting to leak a little oil. I was considering my options. Meanwhile, we continued to do what we have been doing for 10 years, flying to the backcountry strips of Montana and Idaho.

Bonanza (B36TC, N908P)

January 1, 2011

When I was 9 years old I frequently rode my bicycle out to the Fresno Air Terminal to watch the California Air National Guard F-86s. I hung on the chain-link fence for hours dreaming about flying one of those neat looking airplanes.

Bonanza (36,N707WG)

December 1, 2010

I vividly remember the first time I saw the 1968 Model 36 Bonanza, S/N E-70. It was 1990 and I had flown to Oxnard Airport on the central coast of California responding to a classified ad in the Los Angeles Times. When I got there, Joe Sullivan, the seller (an airline captain) opened the hangar doors and there it was: a gleaming, gorgeous Model 36 Bonanza looking like it had just come off the assembly line!

Bonanza (V35, N2759T)

November 1, 2010

I was fortunate to begin flying a Bonanza at a very early age, which helped me eventually fulfill my dream of becoming an airline pilot. A majority of my early instrument and cross-country time was logged in my father’s 1951 Bonanza C35, which is still known as N5808C (D-2760). Complete with all the comforts of a Lear Orienter ADF, MK V and MK16 Narco navcoms, along with the way-cool electric prop, the Bonanza left little else to desire in a personal plane.

My Thoroughly Modern (58P, N7205E)

October 1, 2010

During my 20 years as a pilot, I have always owned and flown a Beechcraft.  I worked my way up the Beech line and in 2007 purchased and flew a King Air 200. I loved the challenge of learning the King Air and really enjoyed its performance and capabilities. My spouse enjoyed its quiet ride, luxurious cabin and comfortable air conditioning. Unfortunately, I quickly “learned the hard way” how expensive turboprops are to operate and maintain. Maintenance costs were consistently shocking and burning 110 gph wasn’t fun either. The costs were so high that it started to ruin the fun for me. So I decided to look for a new airplane with King Air-like capabilities but without the crippling costs.

Baron (58, N818JC)

September 1, 2010

My initial training for the private ticket was sponsored by my father when I was barely out of high school. Around 1980 Piper products ruled the ramp at KNEW (Lakefront, New Orleans), so early logbook entries show “Traumahawk” and Cherokee time. Funds, or lack thereof, kept the entries thin for the next 14 years. In 1994 postgraduate interviews led me to, of all places, Wichita and my priorities again shifted to include flying.

Bonanza (F33A, N898WP)

August 1, 2010

I never thought in my wildest dreams that any other airplane could be better than my completely restored 260-hp ultimate Debonair, with leather seats, a Jaguar paint scheme and a panel full of avionics. Then, one mid-summer 2005 Florida day while the Debonair was in the shop, my friend Lou Martelli provided me with shuttle service in his 1990 air-conditioned 300-hp Bonanza F33A.

Baron (95-B55, N400SR)

July 1, 2010

One of the biggest blessings guiding my life has been aviation. I was fortunate to be placed in the front seats of general aviation aircraft since age 2 and a Bonanza or Baron since age 5. Throughout my early life my father owned a 1973 V35B, a 1964 B55, a 1980 A36TC and lastly a 1982 B58P. I flew 2,500 hours or so of PIC time on the last two.

Over 50 and Fabulous (J35, N8326D)

June 1, 2010

My wife Allison and I decided our Piper Cherokee was no longer fulfilling our mission requirements. I wanted more speed and range; Allison desired more room and a greater useful load. A detailed study of the performance specifications of numerous used aircraft revealed, at least on paper, that a Beech Bonanza would more than meet our needs. At that time, we were not terribly familiar with the Bonanza, although I had always admired the V-tail design of the 35 series. They simply are beautiful aircraft. But I never flew one nor had I even flown in one.

G36 Bonanza Fits our Missions (G36, N75TL)

May 1, 2010

Having been in the Air Wing in the Marine Corps in North Carolina and in Vietnam, the plan had been to muster out, get a college degree and a private pilot’s certificate and go back in as a fighter pilot. However, getting the private ticket in 1970 was enough to let me know I was never going to be a fighter pilot. When the GI Bill flying money ran out in 1970, the cash to fly was gone, but the dream never died. I remained a Trade-A-Plane reader and an AOPA member.

My Baron: Fast, Fun to Fly, Efficient Family Heirloom (95-A55, N550JA)

April 1, 2010

Digging ditches for my father’s construction company enabled me to pay for flying lessons at Pacific States Aviation in Concord, California, in 1962. My father was a wise man who realized my passion for flying would motivate me to finish high school and college. He also realized a strong desire to keep my medical and pilot certificate would put healthy limits on my behavior.

A Joy to Fly! (B95A, N755RP)

March 1, 2010

My love affair with Beech airplanes began in 1965 when I joined Hangar One, the largest Beech distributor in the Southeast United States. I started as a salesman in their Musketeer program, but before long advanced to the Debonair and Bonanza, and later moved up to the Baron program. Along the way I had the pleasure of selling the first Model 36 Bonanza in the Southeast.

A True Love Story (PT-DUH, V35B)

February 1, 2010

I can’t remember when I started to like airplanes. But I do recall the drawings of them I used to do during my class breaks at school as well as some of the trips in my dad’s beautiful white and gold 1971 V35B. I was always in the right seat, side by side with the pilot, trying to figure out all those dials and switches.

Best Airplane Ever! (M35, N988RR)

January 1, 2010

I was just 15 when my passion for aviation came into full bloom. All I wanted was to be around airplanes. To do so, I took my first job loading baggage for Catalina Seaplanes, an airline that flew Grumman Goose airplanes 26 miles off the coast of California—from Long Beach to Catalina Island.

Winner of 2009 Air Race Classic (35-B33, N1545S)

December 1, 2009

In May 2004 as I was standing on the ramp at KCPS (St. Louis Downtown Airport, across the river from St. Louis, MO) awaiting the arrival of N1545S for its obligatory prebuy inspection, I knew she would be “the one” destined to become an important part of my life. After months of searching for a Debonair—and a few failed prebuys along the way—my dream of becoming not only an aircraft owner, but a Beechcraft owner, was about to become a reality.

Our "Time Machine" (F33A, N587PD)

November 1, 2009

I caught the flying bug in 1985 after making several trips to Gulf Shores, Alabama, with a friend who had a Bellanca Super Viking. I found an airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a fleet of Piper Tomahawks, or ‘Traumahawks’ as they are affectionately called, and decided to begin my training there. With my 6’5” frame, I had a problem trying to fit into a Cessna 152, but the low-wing design of the Tomahawk was much easier.

Our Dream Aircraft (F33A, N30VM)

October 1, 2009

Without a doubt I must be the luckiest aviator in the country because I became interested in flying when I was a child in post-war Germany. This happened after listening to stories by a family friend who flew ME109s and 262s during the war. Of course, it would have been nice if I could have learned to fly right there and right then, in which case this story would be very short and have little to do with luck. But at the time and in that place, flying was out of reach for me as well as many others, so my dream stayed on hold until much later.

A Delight to Fly and Very Comfortable (N3180V)

September 1, 2009

My father instilled in me the love of machinery and mechanics as I was growing up on a small farm in southern Illinois. Scott Air Force Base was nearby, so aircraft seemed always to be flying over at low altitudes. It was near the end of World War II and I watched for hours as AT-6s and P-51s practiced dog-fighting tactics.

The Perfect Solution (A36, N836CF)

August 1, 2009

The best things about my 2003 Bonanza A36 is the freedom it gives me and the places it takes me—and that’s everywhere all the time. As president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), I spend a lot of time flying around the country, talking to various groups, meeting with members and attending events.

Baby Doll (V35B, N313W)

July 1, 2009

Like many with a passion for aviation, my addiction began as one of my earliest memories: I was a 3-year-old tyke sitting on my father’s lap, tiny hands clasped on the yoke of a 1959 Bonanza V-tail when our family was flying from Nashville, Tennessee, to Florida. My mother was sitting copilot and my brothers were strapped in the back—one of the few moments as the youngest of three brothers that I had an advantage because the cg envelope of the Bonanza precluded me from riding in the back. There I was, holding straight and level, with my father providing a gentle nudge on the yoke and a light touch on the rudders for his baby-boy future aviator, sealing forever my love affair with the Bonanza.

Our Family Rocket (F33A, N601BT)

June 1, 2009

We have always been a flying family. We bought a Cessna 172 in 1994 and traveled extensively with her. When our son Wesley was born in 1999, he was soon introduced and is growing up with flying as the preferred mode of this family’s transportation.

Pleasure Craft (S35, G-EHMJ)

May 1, 2009

Fifteen years ago, I was a Mooney man through and through. Our Mooney 231 had taken us faithfully all around the United Kingdom and Ireland and throughout Europe. Yes, it was small and cramped, but we kept ourselves and children lean and enjoyed the speed and touring potential.

A Pleasure Treasure (P35, N9673Y)

April 1, 2009

I learned to fly shortly after serving a three-year hitch in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. After discharge, I joined my father in his construction company. While my head was in my work, my heart was stuck on being a pilot—a dream that had been with me since I was eight years old and wanted to be a fighter pilot.

Tammy Lamb (58, N17979)

March 1, 2009

I soloed in 1979 as part of the Air Force Flight Instruction Program in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. During 24 years in the Air Force I had the opportunity to fly 64 different types of aircraft, most of them as an experimental test pilot and very few of them general-aviation types.

Love of Our Lives (S35, N341VT)

February 1, 2009

My interest in aviation came naturally: I was born and grew up in Wichita, Kansas—Air Capital of the World! The sky was always full of jet bombers from Boeing, trainers from Cessna and classy business airplanes from Beech. A relative, Jimmy Yarnell, was chief photographer at Beech, so my bedroom walls were covered with photos of Beechcraft.

Our Beautiful "G" (N81KT)

January 1, 2009

I soloed on my 16th birthday and have been involved with airplanes ever since. My son Mike also soloed on his 16th birthday, and my dad has had an A35 since I was a child. My first Bonanza was a D35 I purchased in 1984 and flew it everywhere from home in Muncie to Arizona, Oregon, Florida and many states in between. Since all three of our children went to colleges more than 200 miles away, all of them—and some of their friends—made good use of Bonanza rides to and from school several times a year. These days, our young grandkids get Bonanza rides as well. They point and shout, “Papa’s airplane!” whenever they see any plane in the sky. It was a hard decision to sell a plane I flew for 20 years, but when my brother Tim bought a G35, I felt it was time to “keep up with family.” I had also been following Lew Gage’s articles in the ABS Magazine. So when a customer’s beautiful G was up for sale, I put my D on the market and, thanks to the appreciation factor, sold it for four times what I paid for it. When I bought…

Last Updated: March 2, 2017