AOPA Pilot Magazine - November 2015 - 72

HISTORY LESSON
A well-done T-Bone
Despite the name, a Twin Bonanza is not a
Bonanza with two engines. Take a Bonanza
fuselage, cut it lengthwise, stick in some extra
metal before sewing it all back up, and you're
close to the cabin size. However, the wing,
landing gear, and engines all were new to this
model.
In fact, it was the T-Bone that, with the
addition of a larger cabin and engines, became
the Queen Air. Add turbine engines and you
have a King Air.
The Army purchased the first 216 of the
nearly 1,000 Twin Bos built, dubbing it the
L-23 Seminole. It served primarily as a utility
transport in Korea.
Today, thanks to the steep drop in twin
prices and the daunting geared and-for some
models-supercharged Lycoming GSO-480
engines, you can find one for anywhere
between $75,000 and $150,000. -IJT

To truly appreciate a nice T-Bone, you
have to see it in person. The ramp presence is extraordinary. From far away it
looks like any other small twin, but as you
get closer it starts to fill in the scene, and
it looms over you. It is big in every way.
It's tall; the gear is massive, the wingspan
broad, and the cowlings fat. You enter,
not through the front or up on the wing,
but through a proper airstair door. You sit
high and straight up front; flying it evokes
the feelings of a much larger airplane.
When he first bought it, Egan says
there was a moment that he stared at the airplane, thinking, Where the heck am I going to put it? Its
massiveness definitely speaks to a past era, he says, and there's no question an airplane like the Twin Bo
would never come out of Wichita today. Which, strangely, leads to the logical arguments for the project.
THE LOGICAL ARGUMENT

CREATURE COMFORTS,

such as the USB ports
and overhead task
lighting, bring the
stately design into this
century (top left and
center). The augmentor tubes are among
the dozens of new or
overhauled parts (top
right).
72 | AOPA PILOT November 2015

Egan's Twin Bonanza is-give or take-the same investment as a new Skyhawk. It's less than half the
cost of a new Baron. This is where things start to make sense. No, he could never sell the airplane for
what he has in it, but neither could the owner of a new airplane. The T-Bone is exactly what Egan wants,
and the performance-while it's not going to set any records-does have some interesting footnotes.
Developed for a military contract, the Twin Bonanza is much more a baby King Air than a Bonanza
with two engines. In fact, the name is a bit of a misnomer because the landing gear and wing became
the Queen Air, which then became the King Air. A Baron is a twin (lowercase) Bonanza.
There's a legend around the airplane's strength that appears to be as true as it is funny. When demonstrating the Twin Bonanza for some military procurement folks, Beech factory pilot Claude Palmer
pancaked in over a tall tree and landed so hard that there were fears of serious injuries. Palmer needn't
have worried about his passengers and his job, because everyone walked away. Beech won the contract.
The Twin Bonanza, then, fit one of Egan's requirements for an airframe with the strength that comes
inherent in a military pedigree. He also looked at the Navion, but living in Milwaukee means he spends
a lot of time flying over the Great Lakes-where a second engine provided some stress relief. The ability to bring, as he says, five fat buddies and go fishing sealed the deal.
This is no hangar queen. On his third flight after the restoration, Egan flew some friends to a gathering in a barn next to a cornfield-and he has no hesitation taking it in and out of soft, short strips.
In that sense it's a wonderful utility aircraft. Have a Super Cub but wish you could bring five more
friends? It's that kind of airplane.
It's also incredibly roomy inside and has long legs, which makes it a nice traveling machine. Just
make sure to have your passengers bring lots to read, because you'll only be doing about 160 or 170
knots along the way. That spacious interior has enabled Egan to complete some of his favorite flights
thus far-transporting two Medal of Honor recipients to Washington, D.C., for special events.
The counter argument is that for the same money one could buy a different twin and a lot of avgas,
or a smaller twin, lots of avgas, and a fun backcountry airplane. Egan would say that's all irrelevant-
and he's right. Pilots tend to spend lots of time debating performance specifications, breaking down
everything from cruise speed to best-economy, long-range endurance. You don't buy an airplane like
this and go on a multiyear quest to make it yours just because it gets you from Milwaukee to the Motor
City five minutes faster. You do it because it speaks to you, it fits your specific mission, and-most of
all-when you walk up to it you can't help but say, "Cooool." Because it most certainly is that. AOPA
EMAIL ian.twombly@aopa.org



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - November 2015

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