The moment in time showcases just how the past and the present connect in such a way to illuminate how far we’ve come in technology and innovation, yet remain grounded in designs that still resonate with pilots today. Textron Aviation announced the 75th anniversary edition of the Beechcraft Bonanza during the 2021 Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo while it presented its first virtual exhibit in light of lingering concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
For those who knew Olive Ann Beech, the decision to style the new G36 Bonanza after her aesthetic makes perfect sense. Beech was an aviation pioneer who founded Beechcraft alongside her husband Walter, and who carried on leadership of the company following his death in 1950. As the first woman to lead a major aviation OEM, Beech’s career spanned 50 years prior to her retirement in 1982—and her personal elegance was as legendary as her steady hand at the controls. She developed a signature color, “Mrs. Beech Blue,” with designer Oleg Cassini, and this color has been translated into the modern era in the exterior and interior of the 75th anniversary Bonanza.
After 75 years, the model 36 series has seen significant change, but the design’s stately handling qualities and reputation as a rock-solid IFR platform continue. The 2022 edition carries on innovation on the flight deck, with the Garmin G1000 NXi up front, and it’s powered by the Continental IO-550-B six-cylinder engine, demonstrating a maximum cruise speed of 176 knots. Its 920-nm range and 1,060-lb payload target the owner-pilot who wants to carry their family or colleagues on cross-country trips.
Textron Aviation showed off the new edition along with other happenings at the company in a series of video interviews on display on its new mobile virtual exhibit at Sun ‘n Fun. The modified trailer/container allowed for a peek behind the scenes with folks from around the company, and gave some life to an otherwise static display with a single Cessna Caravan available for socially distant viewing. The utility of such equipment in light of the ongoing pandemic concerns makes sense—and it illustrates the gray area we still occupy as companies determine the best path for their businesses, and the health and safety of their teams.