Beechcraft Celebrates 50th Anniversary of King Air’s First FlightPosted by KingAirNation — Monday, January 20, 2014
On this day in 1964, thousands gathered at Beech Field in Wichita, Kansas, for something very exciting — the take-off of the King Air Model 90 prototype in an FAA-approved accelerated flight test program. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the King Air’s first flight, and today Beechcraft and King Air fans everywhere celebrate 50 years of innovation, deliveries, flights, and satisfaction.
From its modest beginnings to today, the King Air has becoming the best-selling business aircraft family inthe world with nearly 7,200 King Airs delivered and a worldwide fleet having surpassed 60 million flight hours. King Airs, which operate in all branches of the U.S. military, serve a variety of missions ranging from traditional transport of personnel and high-value cargo, to electronic and imagery surveillance, air ambulance, airway calibration, photographic mapping, training and weather modification.
Beechcraft celebrated today with several three-ship passes over the King Air’s home airfield, Beech Field, as employees and guests watched. The passes consisted of the King Air C90GTx, based on the original Model 90 design, as well as the King Air 250 and the flagship King Air 350i.
Compared to the original Model 90, today’s King Air C90GTx cruises 60 knots faster, lifts 1,485 pounds more payload, and navigates with the latest satellite and datalink technology – all while preserving the legendary smooth flying characteristics that King Airs are known for.
“The significance of that first flight 50 years ago cannot be overstated, nor can the work of Beechcrafters over the past five decades to turn that one model into the legendary King Air brand,” said Bill Boisture, CEO of Beechcraft. “The King Air captures more than 50 percent of the worldwide business turboprop market each year because we’ve continued to innovate and build upon its foundation with the latest advancements in technology, durability, utility and comfort. Today’s celebration launches a year-long commemoration of the King Air legacy that began in earnest with the first flight of that first prototype.”
Here’s to another half-century of King Air celebration!