Beechcraft Baron

Flying over Baja de Los Angeles, Baja, Mexico

I owned a 1967 Beechcraft Baron C55 for about 13 years. In many ways, it was an excellent airplane, quite roomy and comfortable, and was of higher quality than typical of Cessnas, Pipers, etc.

Grand Tetons

It flew like a dream, too. Very harmonious flight controls, and quite easy to land. With it’s big flaps and big tires, we added VG’s and took it on camping trips into the Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and California mountains.

The Baron handled those mountain strips with ease. For the shorter runways that were at higher elevations (like Johnson Creek), we always arrived at lighter weights. Departures were always in the morning coolness.

Dusty takeoff Punta Chivato, Baja California

We also flew it up to Canada to see such things as beautiful Lake Louise. And we landed it on numerous dirt strips in the Baja California peninsula. We had some great times flying down to Baja.

Gulf of California
Formation over the Gulf of Calfornia

The Baron sported heated props, deice boots, and factory O2. It also featured the extended nose with extra storage, and also the extended aft storage area. And it had the “big” cargo door. It had room for full camping gear and four people.

While we owned it, we installed a new interior and did some upgrades to the instrument panel.

Crater Lake
Ron, Janet, and brother DJ
1967 Baron C55

All in all, it was a fun aircraft that took us on numerous journeys all over the US, Canada, and Mexico. But there were problems. Here are some of them:

1. It was certified. Never again!

2. It was an absolute maintenance hog. I think we worked on it about 5 hours for every hour flown! I didn’t keep track, but it was a lot!

3. It burned a lot of fuel. Even at 55% power on those IO-520’s (285hp each), the fuel burn was 28 gallons per hour. Cruise was 180 knots at that power setting.

Regarding number two above, I think we literally replaced just about every moving part on the airplane while we owned it – bearings, brackets, you name it. The props were overhauled, then an AD meant another trip to the shop. Sheesh. We had several expensive AD’s while we owned the airplane. The deice boots had to be replaced. The electric prop deice system had several parts replaced. Several cylinders had to be replaced. The left engine had to have a complete overhaul at only about 350 hours since overhaul (traded in for a Factory Reman) when it experienced a “spun bearing” on arrival one day. The heater was always finicky as heck. We worked on it a lot, throwing very expensive parts at it. We never knew if it was going to work. We carried blankets on all trips.

Conclusion: this a terrific airplane, capable, and fun to fly, but expensive to own and operate. It you don’t do most of the maintenance yourself, it will cost you an arm and a leg. Either way, you will have to invest a lot of time for maintenance.