Saturday, March 9, 2013


Your humble author and the 1963 Bonanza
Steve, a friend of mine at work, has spent much of his life around airplanes.  His dad was a pilot and was an instructor in the airforce.  When Steve moved back to Texas in 2011, he worked on completing the training for his pilots license, passed the test and promptly bought a Beechcraft Bonanza.  Now normally I cannot differentiate a Cessna from a Boeing but the Bonanza has a unique V-tail making it instantly recognizable.  Steve had offered many times to take me up for a flight around Dallas but something always came up.  Then in January, Steve announced he was being transferred back to Connecticut (and the plane was being sold!) so it was time to take action.

North Texas ranchland with the Red River
 and Oklahoma in the distance
On a clear calm Friday afternoon we pushed the Bonanza out of its hangar and after going through all the various checks, were in the air in no time.  It was remarkably smooth.  My previous experience of small aircraft involved a "lesson" given by a 20-something UT student down in Georgetown.  She did not inspire confidence.  Steve, on the other had, despite have limited hours, proved competent and capable.  Unlike a large commercial aircraft, the Bonanza was airborne after a very short jog down the runway.  It is a fast plane, with the 300HP engine capable of over 200MPH.  In fact we cruised along at about 180MPH but at 3000 feet you do not sense the speed.  Climb at about 1000 feet per minute, it was great to get a birds eye view of McKinney, the Red River, the casino in Durant.  We stopped in Denison on the way back for lunch.

Remarkably, Steve's plane was built in 1963.  From the outside, you cannot tell.  No doubt a new plane would be constructed of lighter and stronger materials but the basic design remains the same.  Inside, many of the avionics had been upgrade but some had not.  If he has not told me the vintage, I would have assumed it no more than ten years old.

On Saturday, Steve and his Dad flew to east Texas and on Sunday he sold the plane to a couple he shares hangar space with.  I was glad I jumped at the chance to go up in the Bonanza - you have to strike while the iron is hot, kids!

If I ever win the lottery, it sure would be nice to own a small plane and hopscotch around the country one town at a time.

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