Hawker Beechcraft Through the Years

As the company plans for new ownership, here's a look back at the storied manufacturer.

Following the Staggerwing was the Model 18 Twin Beech, which was introduced in 1937 and produced for more than three decades. The aircraft was used for a wide range of purposes, including everything from passenger flights to firefighting missions to movie production.
The Beechcraft Bonanza was first introduced in 1947, and has since remained in production longer than any other single aircraft ever produced. All in all, more than 17,000 Bonanzas have rolled off the production lines.
The Beechcraft Baron entered the scene in 1961 as a descendent of the Beechcraft 95 Travel Air. The aircraft remains in production today and remains one of the most popular piston twins ever produced.
**In 1962, what would later be known as the Hawker Siddeley 125 made its first flight and arguably became the first production bizjet on the planet. Beech, then owned by Raytheon, bought the Hawker lineup from BAE in 1993 and welcomed the respected British jets into their lineup, refining them continuously along the way.
In 1964, Beechcraft set the stage for its ultra-popular twin turboprop line with the introduction of the Model 90 King Air. The introduction came amidst the rise of private business aviation and quickly came to dominate the corporate turboprop sector.
The King Air 100 followed shortly thereafter, bringing a stretched cabin and serving as the predecessor to Beechcraft's later 200 series.
Beechcraft made its first King Air 200 delivery in 1974. With extra horsepower, a new T-tail and reputable durability, the aircraft's popularity took off with ease.
**In 1985, Beechcraft added the Beechjet initially built by Mitsubishi to its product line. The jet led to the Beechjet 400A, later known as the Hawker 400XP, which featured advanced avionics and a larger interior.
In 1987, the eye-catching Beechcraft Starship made its maiden flight, thereafter becoming the first all-composite turboprop to earn certification. While not a commercial success, the Starship taught the company many important lessons about composite design and construction.
In the late 1990s, the Hawker Premier 1 landed on the scene with a swept wing and a composite, carbon fiber fuselage.
The first production T-6A Texan II took off in 1998, a few years after the airplane won a lucrative multibillion-dollar military contract for 700 aircraft.
**Launched in 1996, the composite fuselage Hawker 4000, originally known as the Horizon, went through a protracted certification process. The aircraft finally earned approval in 2006 and has since evolved into a capable super-midsized business jet. Its commercial success, however, has suffered as a result of those early certification delays.
Since the company's founding in 1932, Hawker Beechcraft has delivered more than 54,000 airplanes, well more than half of which remain in the air today. Read about the company's future — which has recently been thrust into uncertainty due to financial turmoil — here.
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