The Bonanza is a six-seat, low-wing, single-engine passenger plane manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Company ("Beechcraft"). The first Bonanza was constructed in 1947, and Beechcraft still produces them as of the time of this writing in 2002. The Bonanza is known for its durability and reliability, rivalling the Cessna 172 "Skyhawk" in that regard, and is still one of the most common privately-owned aircraft in the sky.

The Bonanza (while more expensive than the Cessna 172, its primary competitor) is a very high-performance aircraft, reaching a maximum speed of 165 knots, compared to the Skyhawk's 128 knots. The Bonanza is actually safer and more reliable than the vaunted Skyhawk, but it doesn't have the Skyhawk's popularity and market share, because of the Bonanza's significantly greater expense.

One of the most interesting things about the Bonanza is that it comes in two very visibly different types: the straight tail, which has a normal aircraft's tail on the end, and V-tail, which, well, has a tail that terminates in a V-shape.

Most aircraft have a stabilizing tail in a T-shape, with the crossbar of the T either at the top of the tail or the bottom. The V-Tail Bonanza, on the other hand, has a V-shaped tail, without the crossbar. This allows the V-Tail Bonanza to accomplish with two surfaces what most aircraft must do with three, thus reducing weight and drag, as well as making manufacturing cheaper. It also looks really cool.

Unfortunately, the unique V-tail design requires a more complicated control system for the maneuvering surfaces, and creates far more stress on the tail than the T-tail design, leading to a significant number of Bonanzas breaking up in flight. Beech stopped manufacturing V-Tail Bonanzas in 1982, to the disappointment of many, but still manufactures straight-tail machines.

In 1985, Beechcraft released an upgrade kit to strengthen the Bonanza's airframe and control surfaces in order to compensate for the V-Tail's issues, and both types of Bonanza are known for having an even greater safety and reliability record than the Cessna 172.

Raw Data

Beech Aircraft Company Model 35 "Bonanza"