What's An A-24?
Excerpt from Winging It! With Dr. Paul: Forty Tales Your Flight Instructor Never Told You (copyright © 1989 by H. Paul Shuch)
"OK, what is it?" ask line boys at airports across the country. I smirk, then smile in secret satisfaction, for my Chariot Afar is deliberately devoid of distinguishing detail, save the carefully contrived corporate logo which graces the upper cowling. Last vestige, that, of the Era of Investment Tax Credit, before tax reform sounded the death knell of the lightplane industry. "It's an A-24," I reply simply, while winging on my way.
Beechcraft A-24/R, nee` Musketeer Super-R, aka Sierra, is a curious bird with a brief production history, dating to the time Wichita dabbled in producing affordable personal transportation. Actually built in the town of Liberal, Kansas (an oxymoron rather like Jumbo Shrimp and Military Intelligence), this slow cousin to the Bonanza is stable, spacious, comfortable, economical, and anything but swift.
Some say there was a conspiracy afoot (awing?) at Beechcraft, for the potential aerodynamic improvements are staggering as a Staggerwing. Obvious, as we academics like to say, to the most casual observer. A fillet here, flush rivets there, a fairing over yonder and we could easily add 20 knots to the Mousketeer's cruise. But no, the conspirators insisted, let's keep costs down. While we're at it, let's make this bird so pokey that it's owners will salivate for speed. Let's see how much extra drag we can induce at the factory floor. Then we can step them up to our famous fork-tailed fast flier for a few pesos more. Give our first-time buyer plenty of the legendary Beechcraft quality, the plan read, but none of its alluring speed.
Aside from landing ten minutes late on every leg, Son Of A Beech bears a striking family resemblance to Big Brother A-36, the six-place, straight tail Bonanza you see on every ramp. I compared notes and numbers with Maureen and Warren, good friends in flight, when they stepped up to their A-36 a while back. Here is what we found:
|Displacement (Cu. In.)|
|Number of Blades|
|Gross Weight (lbs)|
|Useful Load (lbs)|
|Baggage Capacity (lbs)|
|Cruise Airspeed (MPH)|
|Fuel Burn (GPH)|
"That means" noted Warren, a former Air Force pilot with a nose for numbers, "that your A-24 is exactly two-thirds an A-36." Do you suppose that makes me two-thirds the pilot, I wondered?
The pedigree is unmistakable. All the more so, since the new paint job gives Pokey authentic A-36 striping and colors. It doesn't fly any faster, but my bird now resembles a big RC model of the great A-36 Bonanza. "What is it?" ask line boys at airports across the country.
If you can drive, you can fly!
Copyright © AvSport of Lock Haven, a subsidiary of Microcomm Consulting
This page last updated 1 June 2010
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