The King Air Turns 40

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The King Air Turns 40

On Jan. 20, 1964, the original Beechcraft King Air Model 90 lifted off from Beech Field in Wichita. Now, 40 years later, parent Raytheon Aircraft is preparing to commemorate the lineage with a special, 40th anniversary edition. That aircraft, a King Air 350 -- serial number FL 400, registered as N40TH -- will receive a special paint scheme and interior treatment. The company is also creating a special Web site -- address pending -- for the anniversary. That Web site will feature owners' stories and King Air facts and photos. The company also is asking King Air owners and pilots -- both civil and military -- to send in their unique experiences and photographs for publication to a special e-mail address.

The type's 40th anniversary celebration will culminate at NBAA 2004 in Las Vegas with the delivery of FL 400 to its new owner. So far, sales of the Beech King Air in all its flavors and sizes are approaching 6,000 copies. According to the company, no other business aircraft has been manufactured in the same quantities. "What has made the King Air so successful -- other than the excellent original design -- is its constant refinement," said Randy Groom, president, Beechcraft Division of Raytheon Aircraft. "From that first aircraft we have listened to our customers and applied the latest technology to bring incredible value to the King Air family."