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Welcome to The Airplane Intel Podcast, the weekly General Aviation podcast for aircraft owners, operators, pilots and mechanics. We deliver practical advice, tips and strategies to make aircraft ownership simple, safe and cost effective.
Today we’re back to piston twins, and in this edition, we discuss the Beechcraft Baron with podcaster and Pressurized Baron owner David Fill. Plus, general aviation news, the tip of the week and your feedback.
The Beechcraft Baron started life on February 29, 1960 with its maiden flight. The Baron is a derivative of the Travel Air, a twin variant of the original bonanza. Production started in 1961 and it is one of the last remaining twins still in production today. To date, there have been over 6,700 produced. The Baron was designed to compete with the already successful Cessna 310 and Piper Aztec as a true high-performance twin.
As Don alluded to, the Baron has a lot of history between 1960 to today. The first Baron was the model 55. It was equipped with two IO-470s, a 6 cylinder fuel injected engine producing 260 hp. Production started in 1961. The 55 had the swept stabilizer of the Debonair with the cabin of the Travel Air.
Now the Baron has two major variants – the 55 and the 58. The 55 has a shorter fuselage than the 58 and each model has a variety of sub models with refinements and improvements along the way. Beechcraft dubbed model enhancements with letters A-E preceding the model number for the 55. For example, the E (as in echo) 55 Baron, introduced in 1970 is the most refined of the 55 series. It had up to six seats, a new paint scheme, a more ergonomic cockpit, flush wing tip lights, and could hold up to 172 gallons of fuel.
Now there is actually a Baron model between the 55 and the 58 called the 56TC, a modified Baron 55 with 380hp Lycoming TIO-541 engines. Limited numbers of these aircraft were built, less than 100, as the airplane was really designed as a test platform for those beefy engines, later to be used on the Duke.
The 58 Baron was introduced in 1969 as a larger, more capable aircraft – a logical next step up for 55 owners. It had club seating, dual aft baggage doors and an increase in gross weight of up to 5,400 lbs. The plane had a pair of Continental IO-520 or 550 engines, capable of 300 hp and 200 kts @ 7,000 feet.
In 1976, turbocharging and pressurization became available on the Baron 58TC and 58P respectively. Equipped with the turbocharged version of the IO-520, each engine could produce between 310 and 325 hp. As a result, the aircraft saw a huge increase in gross weight, up to 6,200 lbs. The aircraft could fly up to 220 kts @ FL200 and could carry about 190 gallons on fuel. The 58 TC and 58P were discontinued in 1984 and 1985 respectively.
In 1984, huge changes were made to the Baron’s cockpit – gone are the days of the old throw over yoke and dual control arm as they were replaced with the standard yoke set up. This change also meant changing the position of the engine controls as well as gear and flap handles.
Today, the 58 Baron is still in production with normally aspirated engines and glass cockpit which was introduced in 2005 and dubbed the G58 Baron.
Our guest David Fill
David is the owner of a 1983 Beechcraft 58 P-Baron and the host of the Airplane Owners Podcast. David is also the owner of an aviation consulting firm and a corporate King Air B100 pilot. David is an active member of the AOPA, EAA, and NBAA. When he's not flying, you can find David spending time with his family or training for his next marathon.
Get in touch with David on Twitter @DavidFill
Listen to David's Podcast, the Airplane Owners Podcast on iTunes