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Brief History of the Beechcraft Corporation
In 1932, Walter Beech and his wife Olive Ann Beech founded the Beech Aircraft Company. It began operating in an unoccupied Cessna factory and, later on, that same year, Beechcraft released its first aircraft, the Model 17 Staggerwing. Over 750 Staggerwing units were manufactured and 250 of which were used by the US military forces during World War II.
The Staggerwing initially was designed and sold as an executive jet. But during the time the US Army Air forces were in need of courier aircraft, the Staggerwing, which was built for commercial purposes, was slightly redesigned. The US government ordered more than 200 units of the aircraft, and they even had to lease from some private Staggerwing owners just to meet war needs.
Although Beechcraft was a smaller company compared to others, it was one of the leading aircraft companies with production contracts to the US military during World War II. In fact, the company received production efficiency awards five times in a row in 1942 mainly for its production of the Beechcraft Model 18, a twin-engine light aircraft, which is still being flown until today.
In 1947, the company released another aircraft called Beechcraft Bonanza, which replaced the Staggerwings. The Bonanza has a single engine with a distinctive V-tail and has been the longest manufactured aircraft then and now. Other important aircraft developed and produced by Beechcraft are King Air, a twin-engine turboprop, the Baron under the Bonanza line and the Beechcraft Model 18,which was originally a transport aircraft for business travels and private charter flights.
In November 1950, Walter Beech died from a heart attack and his wife took over as CEO up until Raytheon Company purchased Beechcraft in 1980. After 14 years from purchase, Raytheon merged Beechcraft with Hawker, a product line they acquired in 1993. The merging of the two gave birth to Raytheon Aircraft Company but was again sold in 2006 to Goldman Sachs and was renamed Hawker Beechcraft.
However, it was not long before Hawker Beechcraft declared bankruptcy in 2012. From Hawker Beechcraft emerged a new smaller entity, Beechcraft Corporation. The company continued manufacturing some of Beechcraft’s original aircraft designs such as the King Air, the military aircraft T-6 and AT-6, Bonanza, and Baron.The company stopped producing some of the jet models, but they still supported units that were already manufactured and has airworthiness certification.
After a financial upturn, Beechcraft was up for sale again in 2013. Textron, a multi-industry company, bought Beechcraft Corporation along with the obsolete Hawker jet line. Textron also owns Cessna, a company that also produces light and mid-sized jets and turboprops. Although Cessna, Hawker and Beechcraft manufacture almost the same product line, Textron planned to keep them as three separate brands.
With the three aircraft brands under its name, Textron accounts for more than half of the general aviation aircraft being used around the world. The light to mid-sized aircraft they produce is best for business travels, private charter flights and transporting cargoes.