When Beechcraft started work on the Bonanza in 1945, they chose the name to let everyone know it would be a small plane with big features. They wanted the Bonanza to be innovative and exciting, like nothing the industry had seen before. When the first Model 35 rolled off the production line in 1947, it had a V-tail, an all metal body and a sleek shape that turned heads. The Bonanza was an immediate success and it's still in production today.
The trademark feature of the Beechcraft Bonanza until 1982 was its V-tail. Aerodynamicist Jerry Gordon chose this design to reduce drag and weight and to increase stability. After a series of fatal accidents that many blamed on the V-tail, but was never proven, Beechcraft switched to a conventional tail design. Besides the V-tail, another unique feature of this aircraft has been its interconnected yoke and rudder system. Flexible bungees that link these controls to each other make it possible to do coordinated turns using minimal or no rudder input. Early innovations like this coupled with a streamlined low-wing design and retractable gear have made Bonanza a pilot's dream. The early D35 Model has space for four in its cabin with an empty weight of 1,675 pounds and a gross weight of 2,725 pounds. It's 25 feet two inches long, seven feet seven inches tall and its wingspan is 32 feet 10 inches wide. The D35 also has an aspect ratio of 6.20 and a zero-lift drag coefficient of 0.0192.
The Bonanza has always been a high-performance aircraft but it really stood out in the late fourties and early fifties. At that time its competitors were wood and fabric, high winged planes with less than 150 horsepower. Beechcraft's A35 Bonanza burst on the scene with a flush-riveted, magnesium-alloy skin, retractable landing gear and a Continental 165 horsepower horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine (which was quickly upgraded to 185 horsepower). This combination gave it a cruise speed of 175 mph and the handling of a commercial fighter. Stunt pilot Bevo Howard proved this when he used a Bonanza 35 for his aerobatic program at the 1948 Cleveland Air Races. His stunts included a snap roll at the top of a loop. Not the recommended flight plan for a factory passenger plane. With its 185 horsepower engine, the Bonanza A35 cruises at 148 knots and tops out at 160 knots. It stalls at 49 knots, climbs at 890 feet per minute, reaches a maximum ceiling of 17,100 feet and has a range of 470 nautical miles.
Controls and Cabin
When you enter the cabin of a Beechcraft Bonanza you're immediately impressed with how spacious and comfortable it is. Visibility over the nose and to the sides is excellent and the control yokes have good ergonomics, making this plane a pleasure to fly. These positives are slightly offset by a poorly placed fuel selector and circuit breakers. The seats can also get uncomfortable during long flights without a cushion. The Bonanza 35 has a payload of 818 pounds but it's easy to exceed the aft limits so a weight and balance should be part of every preflight. Stability is good when cruising but the Bonanza 35 likes to yaw (move side to side on its vertical axis) during turbulence. It's also easy to stall if you lift a wing with the ailerons. When landing, the Bonanza favors a fast approach of at least 80 knots. This gives it plenty of energy to slow its descent when you flare (the nose up attitude just before touch down).