As Aviation International News, part of AIN Media Group and its predecessor Aviation Conference News, celebrate 50 years of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff will review the archives each month to bring readers stories from the past half-century. some interesting events.
rewind: (NBAA Conference News, Oct. 4, 1983, p. 1) Beech Aircraft President and CEO Linden Blue Shocks the Business Aviation World with buzzwords like “jet,” “tipsail,” and “tandem wing” , yesterday officially announced the company’s oft-rumored high-tech turboprop, dubbed “Starship 1.”
A serious competitor in appearance to Luke Skywalker’s “Star Wars” fighter, the aggressive 8 to 10-passenger, twin-propeller canard configuration was first described by Blue as “a family of aircraft… It will lead the industry for the next 20 years”, with FAA Type Approval under FAR Part 23 planned by the end of 1985.
fast forward: Beech backed up the claim at the 1983 NBAA convention, with a flying demonstration at a static display at Dallas Love Field using an 85 percent scale proof-of-concept model that stopped traffic and dropped his jaw. After a lengthy campaign, Starship was certified in 1988, but despite the project costing hundreds of millions of dollars, it never achieved the lasting reputation envisioned by its designers and supporters. Factors such as increasing weight to meet certification requirements, new production processes that increase price tags, and possibly even the plane’s unconventional appearance have dampened market interest.
The company produced just 53 Starships, managed to sell fewer than 12, and leased the rest. A later company president noted, “There will be no more aircraft that look like Klingon battlecruisers.” Much of the fleet was rounded up and disposed of by the manufacturer.