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Beechcraft Starship — too good, too soon

10 August 2012

Beechcraft Starship — too good, too soon

45º 12′ 17″ N / 123º 08′ 41″ W

The Beechcraft Starship was an advanced aircraft which appeared in the 1980s and not failing to show Burt Rutan’s influence outside as well as inside the aircraft. Together, Beechcraft and Rutan brought us an aircraft which owns these firsts:

  • First civilian certified aircraft with an all glass cockpit
  • First all composite certified civilian aircraft — and the only one with an all composite wing
  • First certified civilian canard aircraft
  • First twin pusher turboprop certified civilian business aircraft

Though known for an exceptionally smooth as well as safe and stall free ride the Starship was not a success — though it looks like one, even two decades later.

Why?

You simply must ask … why?

Much has been written on the Starship and I think that Robert Scherer’s Starship web site has the best overview and summation I have read, please see his FAQ section. Essentially, bad breaks with the economy and perhaps a poorly selected price point — one on par with corporate jets — made conservative customers shy away.

The Beechcraft Starship on the grounds of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum — photo by Joseph May

No doubt, the Starship has a clean aerodynamic design — photo by Joseph May

The canard wing, forward, had twice the wing loading as the main wing which resulted in a main wing that would not stall — photo by Joseph May

The wing is broad and high-aspect, note the winglet/rudders — photo by Joseph May

The two propellers have 8 inches (0.2m) clearance leaving small potential for adverse yaw should an engine fail — photo by Joseph May

The right side turboprop, note how turboprop propeller blades auto feather — photo by Joseph May

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Note: Robert Scherer, as mentioned above, contributed a bit of unique information and a photo subsequent to this post — please see the post two days from this date (16 August) to review the material he generously gave.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 August 2012 07:13

    Every single word MAGNIFICENT UNDERSTATEMENT! Since everyone is allowed a “humble” opinion, this aircraft had many plaudits…and, if it hadn’t, __should have had __ the #1 Industrial Design award for General Aviation (since the beginning of flight!!!..:-)……from human factors,engineering of everything from structure to aesthetics!! There!…I’ve said it! There isn’t a bad line ___anywhere___ on the aircraft!

    Years ago, at a __very__ small airshow in Indiana, this plane was sitting on the ramp next to all of its comparable history and I had the privilege of sitting in the cockpit looking at what seemed the visage of “Star Wars”, while looking thru the window at it’s history line! It seemed like I had literally walked __into__ the future! I feel very sure I was not alone in the thought.

    It was a beautiful experience just to watch it fly..it was ‘grace’…it was ‘elegance’…and sooo much more….fluidity, and on and on!

    Alas, it is an intriguing story…and one worthy of learning the details….

    David

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      10 August 2012 12:54

      You say it better than I do 🙂

      Every line and contour of the Starship has grace and purpose.

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