Whilst many general aviation aircraft designs have long production lives, few make it to 60 years, particularly in the fickle twin engine marketplace. First flying in 1960, the Beechcraft Baron continues to be available new to purchase as of 2022.
The Baron was a development of the 95 Travel Air which it closely resembles, but gained the swept tail fin of the Beechcraft Debonair and two IO-470 six cylinder engines. Of the major variants, the 55 Baron, seating 4-6 with 3 side windows, was available between 1960 and 1980 and the stretched 58 Baron, intended as a regular rather than occasional 6 seater, continues to be manufactured.
The 58 Baron, 10 inches longer than its earlier stablemate, was manufactured from 1969. Most 58s have been normally aspirated and non pressurised, but the 58P, distinguishable by its smaller windows, and the 58TC, with distinct engine cowlings, were also produced. The current G58 incorporates a full glass cockpit.
The Baron is noted for its sturdy construction, which allows heavy weather to be handled with relative ease and at higher speeds than obvious rivals. This also allows ease of operation into larger airports where higher approach speeds are typical, as well as into unprepared airstrips, giving the Baron great flexibility for a commercial operator.
The Baron has also served with various military air arms. As the B55-derived T-42 Cochise, it was procured by the US Army and served until 1993. It has also served with other armed forces including Spain, Mexico and Argentina, and continues to serve in Uruguay and Indonesia.
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