If you walk up to any Beechcraft Bonanza sitting on the ramp at an airport and ask the owner, “How do you like your Bonanza?” be prepared to stand there and listen for 15-20 minutes while he brags about his airplane.
The thing about Beechcraft Bonanza owners is that they are almost a part of a cult. They will tell you up and down why the Bonanza is the best airplane out there. They’ll tell you why all the others don’t even come close. They’ll tell you about the payload, the six seats, the variety of configurations you can select from, the ability to land pretty much anywhere. By the time you walk away, you will probably be convinced to buy one yourself.
Bonanza’s are great airplanes. For those of you new to the single engine piston market, a good comparison for a Beechcraft Bonanza would be a Suburban. Not the flashiest ride out there, but extremely capable, comfortable, and family conscious. If you’re hauling a load, you’ll take a Bonanza over a Cirrus or Mooney any day. Have six people? No problem!
One of the best things about a Beechcraft Bonanza is the variety of designs. Four seats, six seats, long range tanks, tip tanks, turbo charged, normally aspirated, steam gauge, G1000, Aspen or G500 retrofitted, dual yoke, single yoke, leather, cloth, and a variety of different colors out there on the market make finding a Bonanza that fits your need pretty easy.
When it comes to picking out an airplane, the first question is always the mission. If you’re thinking about a Beechcraft Bonanza, you’ve already determined you need something with a good useful load. Do you need four seats or six? Depends on how often you’ll be carrying someone or how new of an airplane you want. Older Bonanzas have four seats, but a lot have had significant updating. Newer A36 and B36 Bonanzas have six seats, but are going to cost you more.
Do you need a turbo charged Bonanza? If you’re in a high elevation area or expect to visit the mountains a lot, then absolutely. If you want a better cruise speed and don’t mind a little less useful load, then go for it. If you’re more concerned about being able to load it up and you aren’t going to cross the Rockies often, then normally aspirated is what you want. You’re probably looking at about 160-170 KTAS with the normally aspirated whereas you get between 180-190 KTAS at altitude with the turbo.
Do you need tip tanks? Tip tanks have two advantages. One is the most obvious: you get to carry more fuel, therefore you get to go farther without having to stop (or when you stop for the bathroom, you don’t have to fill up with gas). The other advantage is you get a bump up in useful load. I talked to a Beechcraft Bonanza owner a few weeks ago who had tip tanks on his. He told me max gross on his Bonanza was 3,800 pounds and was eligible for an upgrade of up to 4,000 pounds and all it took was paper work for the STC. That’s quite a bit of load!
Are Bonanzas hard to fly? When moving up from a typical 172 or Cherokee that most people learn to fly in, it does take some adjustment. But, with good Bonanza training from a qualified Bonanza training instructor, then the transition is no problem. There are tons of resources out there to aid all future and present Bonanza owners in their foray into the Bonanza nation. With the American Bonanza Society and Bonanza Pilot Training, there is no lack of training, thoughts and opinions.
In need of an airplane that can pretty much do whatever you need? Then a Bonanza may be right for you.