A civilian owned Mentor lives in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t know which airport is its base as I have seen it flying from a bunch of locations but it is always interesting to catch. One morning I was up overlooking Boeing Field when it taxied out to depart from the short runway. It is a small plane for that distance but unusual enough to justify some attention. They took off quickly but kept it nice and low as they built up speed before climbing away for whatever they had planned.
Any airport in North America on any given day will have a reasonable chance of a Bonanza showing up. Them come in all vintages, shapes and sizes but they usually come! I’ve therefore shot tons of them over the years. However, I think I may have had a first in that I recently shot a turbine Bonanza. It was on the approach at Paine Field and it was obvious that there was something different about it. The noise was clearly a turbine and the tip tanks had been fitted with winglets. Given the location, I assume they are for drag reduction since they wouldn’t add much to directional stability. Tip tanks are probably a must given the rate at which turbines burn fuel compared to pistons. It was a smart looking thing with the revised nose shape looking quite graceful. Sadly the landing wasn’t as graceful but floating is fine when you have 10,000’ ahead of you!
The camera ship for the majority of the photo missions at Madras A2AX (and all of the flights I undertook) was Scott Slocum’s Beech Bonanza. This is an aircraft which is certificates for flight with the doors removed. With the rearmost two seats removed, this provides a great location for two photographers to shoot back at the target aircraft. Both photographers wore harnesses that were strapped to the airframe.
Once airborne, one person would sit on the floor by the door and the other would stay on the seats and shoot over the head of the other photographer. This system worked really well. During the turbulent flights, the person by the door was probably a touch more aware of how close they were to the door as we bounced around but it was all safely planned and a lot of fun. Full credit to the work Scott did as the photo pilot coordinating the aircraft as well as guiding us students.
I was at Boeing Field when an interesting shape appeared on the approach. When I first saw it, I thought it looked like a Beech Starship and, sure enough, as it got closer, that was exactly what it was. The Starship is an interesting plane although it was not a success for Beech. I first saw one at Farnborough where Beech was displaying it for the first time in Europe. I think the aircraft was destined for Denmark. Since then I have come across them infrequently.
The program was not good for Beech (although they probably learned a lot about building composite aircraft) and it didn’t become the new King Air that they originally thought it would be. When the program was wrapped up, Beech went through a process of buying back airframes and having them destroyed rather than support them going forward. Not everyone was willing to give them up though. Consequently, there are a number of them still operating and a few more in museums.