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Piloting, Owning and Operating a Beech Bonanza A36 - www.gotoair.com

This is the story of owning and operating a 1993 Beech Bonanza A36 in the UK and some of its adventures and flights. I have owned this plane for over six years now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Oban at last

Wow made it to Oban today. I have been staring at Oban/North Connel on my map for the last couple of years but time or whether has always combined to stop us getting there. The Bonanza eat up the 190 nautical miles or so in about 1 hour and 15 minutes and we had a lovely sun drenched lunch at a local hotel followed by a hazy but lovely smooth 5000 foot run back to Blackpool. Flying doesnt get much better than days like that. Oban has a very interesting approach where you have to turn right base and finals all at once and quickly to avoid the 1100 foot high mountain just 1 mile north of the approach to the main runway. Bizzare!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Quick trip to Kirkbride

Made a quick jaunt to Kirkbride today which is about 60 nautical miles north of Blackpool. The Bonanza can hardly get in its stride before you are ready to land here but its still a nice trip over the Lake District. I suggest anyone looking for a nice, cheap no frills airfield to go for a run out to should give them a try. They have a nice little club house where you can make yourself a pot noodle, a cup of tea and eat chocolate etc and my kids love it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Quote for new equipment

Got a quote back for some of the new equipment I would like to order for the Bonanza:

Re: Beech Bonanza A36 Avionics Quotation.

Dear Stuart

Please find quotation to carry out an avionics upgrade to your aircraft as requested.

Option A:

To supply, install and certify:

• 1 x Garmin AT MX20 MFD with chartview software £6000 + VAT

Option B:

• 1 x JPI EDM700 Engine management system with overlean and fuel flow facility £1,616.21 + VAT

Option C:

• 1 x JPI EDM800 Engine management system with overlean and fuel flow facility £2,586.48 + VAT

Option D:

• 1 x Shadin ADC200 Air Data Computer £1,600 + VAT

All options to include all labour costs, miscellaneous parts, cable, circuit breakers, consumables and design fees.

Not sure if the JPI 700 or 800 engine monitor is what I need. I have mailed the company. Not sure if I need the Shadin ADC200 at all now I have seen the price!

I will have to decide on this once it is back on the G Reg.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Quick Hour Flight and Dodgy Hobbs Meter

It was a wonderfully clear day today and I couldnt resist a quick hour in the Bonanza so I trooped off to Blackpool in my lunch hour (and a half) and took N345SF up around Blackpool for a climb to 5000 feet and then spent 30 minutes testing some new things I had learned on the Garmin 430 trainers on the real thing.

Then a couple of test landings to see how quickly I could stop. With full tanks but just me on board I was able to touch down at sixty knots with a bit of stall warner and stop in 100 metres. Very impressive as my landings are usually much longer.

Also managed a TAS of 185 Knots and over 205 Knots ground speed. Just wonderful.

Finally checked my Hobbs meter times when I landed because I use this for billing my hirers but had suspected it wasnt entirely correct and it had recorded exactly half an hour time but I had been 48 minutes from start up. As I suspected this Hobbs meter is only wired to start recording on take off. My hirers have kept quiet about that one! Maybe I will keep quiet when it is fixed to record properly from startup. Saying that I will have to allow taxi time then so its not that much difference I suppose.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


Shiny spinners and Avionics Upgrades

Today I wanted to go flying but the kids wanted to go swimming so I went and spend half and hour polishing the Bonanzas chrome spinner. I had noticed it was a bit tarnished in the past and it looked wonderful after my handy work.

Also in the news is that I am currently looking at upgarding the already impressive avionics to what I would like.

I am looking at adding:

Garmin MX20 Multi Function Display with Terrain and Jeppesen Apporach Plates
JPI EDM 700 Engine/Fuel Flow Monitor
Sandel EHSI No longer in production but very cool
Air Data computer to show TAS and winds on Garmin screen

and a few other bits. I am waiting for the quotes so I will let you know.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Conversion to G Reg costs

So far I have got all the info from the four different CAA departments involved and the four different FAA departments involved. It seems this is the likely costs.

CAA Registration £200 Approx
CAA Radio Licence £100 Approx
CAA Application and Survey Fee £1276

FAA Export C of A £1200 approx

In addition I need an annual inspection done on my plane by both a CAA and then an FAA service station. If you can get one that does both the cost is pretty much the same as one inspection so that is the way I am looking to go. I expect the cost of the annaul to be around £4000.

So far then swapping it back looks like costing me £6800. Not cheap. Having said that it would have been due for the annual in about 3 months in any case.

On the up side the company who looks after my plane has offered to rent the plane so long as it is on the G Reg and the expect to be able to offer my about £8000 worth of net income (before maintenance and engine fund costs etc) to me per year from their renters so that will cover some of my costs.

I have instructed them to start the process to convert my Bonanza A36 back to the G Reg.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


N reg no longer

I was alarmed recently to find that the Department for Transport were saying that they were reviewing the keeping of N Reg planes in the UK.


As I have just been to New York to get my FAA PPL and was about to start my FAA Instrument Rating. I have decided to scrap that plan and put my Bonanza back on the G Reg as I dont fancy spending all this money gaining the licence and then the DfT banning N reg planes.

Before I made this decision I called the DfT and had a chat with the man who is actually reviewing N Reg operations in the UK. He told me that it was extremely likely to be banned in the not too distant future.

Here is some part of my post of the Pprune flying forum where this was discussed.

The low down and straight from the horses mouth.

I have just come off the phone to a Duncan Nichols who is the man at the DfT who is reponsible for conducting a review into "N" reg operations in the UK.

He was extremely helpful and pleasant and he was happy to talk about the process they are going through.

He told me that he has been tasked for about 2 years with doing this review but that it has not been a priority but that events earlier this year have now made it their and his priority. He said that they have held meetings and there was much disquiet about the UK GA fleet shifting to the "N" and it was felt it should be stopped.

I had a very good conversation where I explained the private pilots perspective but he pointed out that the problems with obtaining licences was nothing to do with the DfT and was the CAA's responsibility and they had to operate in line with other european states.

I have to say that despite me spending many thousands of pounds on putting my Bonanza on the "N" last year I am now convinced that this will become outlawed pretty soon. He said that they expect to have some preliminary findings in the next few months and he will make a report to the minister who makes a decision and it will be up to him but I can tell you from the conversation that it sounds a fait acompli.

He also said "when" they make the decision they will give a time period for people to convert back. I have decided that I will have to put the FAA IR on hold for now and I will convert my Bonanza back at its annual in July unless they have said otherwise.

Link to the Pprune forum

Converting back is going to be no easy task and not without some serious spending.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Catch up flights

During the remainder of 2004 and the first few months of 2005 I took the Bonanza of several shortish flights and also took it to the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and my best trip which was Brighton (Shoreham) on a roasting hot day down south. We took off from Blackpool and it was overcast although warm but after an amazing one hour 10 minute flight we reached the south coast and went to the beach with the kids. I have to say that this day really brought home to me just how useful having a private plane really is and especially one as fast as the A36 Bonanza. A family of six travelled what would be a five to six hour journey each way in a car and did all the traveling in less than two and a hlaf hours both ways. We were able to enjoy a day out in Brighton when we would not have even dreamt of doing the journey by car.

My longest flight so far in the Bonanza was a two hour forty minute flight from Blackpool to Lancaster, Barrow-in-furness, Glasgow, out to the West coast of Scotland and then back to Blackpool to take an overhead view of various sights of interest for my company. I enjoyed this flight because I realised that flying these sorts of times was no trouble and going in the other direction I could have easily reached the middle of France or many other parts of Europe. The Bonanza gets used regularly to take us to a wonderful small airfield called Kirkbridge near Carlisle which takes us about 20 minutes but sells Pot Noodles and the kids love it there and also to Caernarfon which is the same time in the other direction. I hope this year to start getting in some more longer flights but sadly the thing that helps me to pay for the Bonanza also stops me flying it so much. Work!

Maintenance so far has been about £600 for a replacement set of tyres and an oil and filter change.

Insurance was £3600 and then an extra £100 when the mandatory cover came in last month.

Hangarage has not cost me a bean because I have done a deal with the company where my plane lives and my company has carried out work to the value of about two years hangarage but we didnt charge them for that but had they have charged me normally it would have cost me about another £2000 for the year.

I have purposely not bothered with detail of last year because I didnt start writing this blog until March 2005 and I have forgotten much of what has happened but I intend to keep you readers (if there are any) up to date in future so get subscribed to my RSS feed.

Monday, April 04, 2005


The flight back from Berlin

Once the plane was ready I arranged for my friend who is an air traffic controller and very competent pilot to come along to fly the bonanza back. In addition, Paul from Aradian Aviation came along to check out the purchase and my father in law and plenty of bags so we were going to be heavily laden on the way back and like any light GA plane you have to keep an eye on your weight and balance. Despite a history of weight and balance problem which people associate with all Bonanzas it was only the V35 (V Tail Bonanza) that was really easy to put of of CofG. The staright tail A36 Beech Bonanza with its longer fuselage has cleared up this unwanted trait and now a Bonanza is no more critical than any other small plane and for a six seater it is exceptional easy to keep in balance. Heavier passengers should not sit in the rear two seats during take off and landing but it is easy to swap seats if required during flight due to the club seating arrangement.

We arrived in Berlin on 26th of August and took delivery of the Bonanza and my friend test flew it around Berlin to familiarise himself with it.

The next day it was an early start, breakfast and back to the historic Berlin Templehof airfield built by Adolf Hitler to hold parades and show off the might of the Nazi war machine. Despite its history it is a very impressive sight.

The plane hand-over had been completed the night before by the Beechcraft dealer and we were fueled and ready to go but there was one problem that we didnt expect in July. Awful weather. After an hour of pouring over weather reports in the Templehof breifing room it was clearl that we were going to have a low cloud base enroute of about 2000ft and worsening weather as we got towards the Holland coastline with England.

We decided to set off and make headway towards the UK with plans for various diversions. It became apparent after about 2 hours and when we had got near to Eindhoven that a plan to divert there possibly would become a reality and after a very bumpy half an hour it couldnt come soon enough for me.

After an approach to Eindhoven we attempted to find a reasonably priced hotel but that wasnt to be as there happened to be a huge Jazz festival on that night but once we were established in the city centre hotel that was at least twice as expensive as I would of liked I then took everyone out for a well earned meal and we had a good look around the festival.

The next day after a taxi ride to the airport we were back in the impressive weather room pouring over satellite charts that were showing the weather front just moving through our position which explained our zero visibility on the runway and gave us some hope for later in the morning.

A couple of hours later we were on our way to Blackpool (a 2 hour flight) in glorious sunshine and huge visibility. Weather is crazy, thats for certain.

The flight back to Blackpool was uneventful and Beech Bonanza N345SF was locked in the hangar at its new home at Pool Aviation.


N reg or not N Reg

Buying the Bonanza A36 was the easy bit. After that I had to get the plane from the D Registration to either the G Registration or the N Registration. As the Bonanza is a very capable IFR tourer and my plane was particularly well kitted out I was worried that an IMC rating would not do it justice but like most other people who fly planes without aspirations of being a commercial pilot the UK Instrument Rating seemed unatainable because of the 6 months ground school learning about weight and balance of a 747 etc.

Beechcraft Bonanza A36 Panel

I decided therefore that I would put the Bonanza on the N Registration and train for an FAA Instrument rating which is considerably more sensible to achieve because it is based around the requirements of a private pilot. I went through several weeks of hassle putting the plane onto the N Registration and spent 10,000 euros to do it.

My plane changed from a D Reg into N-345SF and was ready to fly back from Berlin towards the end of July.


Welcome to Go To Air Beech Bonanza A36 Blog

Welcome to my blog about owning and operating a Beech Bonanza A36 model. I am writing this blog because I know I would find it interesting so I hope some other people will. I hope to tell the readers (if there are any) about what it is like to own a high performance piston single plane and what it costs.

Just a bit of background first.

I purchased the Bonanza in July 2004 after the number of seats in my Cessna 182 was exceeded by the number of children myself and my girlfriend decided to have. We used to seat 3 small children in the back of the 182 which wasnt great but it was OK but then when my good lady got number 4 in her oven I started looking around for a replacement. I was also looking for something with a good increase in speed if I was going to spend more money.

The first six seater I tried was a 2002 Beech Bonanza A36 which was lovely but was way beyond my budget. I was however taken with the superb build quality after owning a Cessna and the club seating in the back with a wide loading door.

Because I had been so happy with the Cessna 182 however I decided to stick with the brand and spent months looking at Cessna 210's (A six seat 182 with a bit more power) and even looked at a pressurised 210 but I came to realise that to get my family into a 210 was going to take some amazing acrobatics . As one of our children is severely disabled with cerebral palsy I started to realise this may be the wrong choice and I could help thinking about how nice the A36 Bonanza felt. I did look at other planes but nothing (possibly apart from a Malibu) was going to satisfy me so we started our quest to find a Bonanza.

An excellent company, Aradian Aviation marketed my 182, and their rep called Paul who knows everything about just about every plane in the world it seems suggested that he knew where there was just the Bonanza for me. The only thing was that it was in Germany, Berlin to be precise. Twice as expensive as I had budgeted and a lot newer, 1993 and with only 500 hours. None the less we dutifully trooped off to Berlin and agreed to buy the plane after a lot of haggling. That was how I ended up with N345SF on the U.S. but now that brings another story.


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