aking a good aviation product better is a concept as old as capitalistic ingenuity itself. OEMs release improved versions of their best airplanes and power plants, each perhaps a bit faster or more versatile than its predecessor. Not everyone can afford the latest edition of a machine, of course, nor does everyone want one. Some operators get as comfy with an airplane they’ve spent years breaking in as they might be with a favorite jacket or pair of running shoes. But most wish their airplane could deliver better performance. That’s where modification companies stand ready to make that good airplane even better. Consider recent production figures from Textron’s Beechcraft unit showing nearly 7,500 copies of the rugged King Air turboprop delivered since its introduction more than 50 years ago. Any mod house would consider a universe that large enough reason to begin engineering efforts, but sometimes real success demands more. Dave Coleman credits part of the King Air’s triumph as a mod platform to the original link between Beechcraft and the U.S. military. Coleman works in aircraft sales and acquisitions at Duncan Aviation and has been around King Airs for decades. He points to the King Air’s predecessor, the Queen Air, as the place where the market really developed. “The military wanted the Queen Air to be modifiable right from the start,” he says. The Queen Air offered an enormous cabin for its day, but it wasn’t pressurized, a fact made more problematic once people began hanging Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprops on them. Thus was born the first pressurized King Air 90, in 1964.