The Beginning of Hawker Beechcraft…
To understand the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is to understand Walter Beech.
In 1905 aviation was a concept most people had yet to fully understand. The Wright Brothers shocked the world two years prior with their invention of the first airplane to be successfully flown by man. Their success inspired 14-year-old Beech to build his life around aviation. Using his own design, the Tennessee-born teenager built his first glider.
When Beech grew into a man, his passion for flying grew along with him and he flew for the United States in WWI. After the war, he became a test pilot for Swallow Airplane Company. But being behind the scenes wasn’t the right fit for Beech. He wanted to be a part of the action. In 1924 he teamed up with fellow aviation-enthusiast Clyde Cessna and formed the Travel Air Manufacturing Company.
This venture was successful and gave Beech the confidence he needed to step out on his own and start the Beech Aircraft Company in 1932 in Wichita, KS with his wife Olive. From that point on, Beech and his company experienced series of successes that would later make the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation what it is today – almost 80 years after its first incarnation.
The Early Days…
The Beech Aircraft Company started off with the Model 17 Staggerwing and immediately produced 750 Staggerwings, 270 of which were manufactured for the US Air Force to use in World War II.
After production ceased on the Staggerwings, the most well-known aircraft in the company, the Beechcraft Bonaza, was produced in 1947. This single-engine business jet reportedly has the longest production run of any aircraft in history, even today.
Tragedy struck the company in 1950 when Beech died suddenly from a heart attack. Although his death was sudden and unexpected, Beech had accomplished something many people never experienced. He dreamed of making and flying aircraft of all kinds and that’s just what he did. He came a long way from the adolescent boy who built his own aircraft in the early 1900s to becoming the CEO of one of the leading aircraft manufacturing corporations in the world.
After his death, his wife continued on with the company as CEO until it became a subsidiary of the Raytheon Company in 1980. During Olive’s time as head of the Beech Aircraft Company, many successful jets were produced.
In 1961 the forerunner to today’s Baron G58, the Baron B55, was introduced and became the most popular twin-engine owner-flown aircraft on the market. A few years later, Beech released the Model 90 Beech King Air. This turbopop became the industry’s standard in corporate props and to this day King Air models maintain 90 percent of the market share in their class.
Although the Beech Aircraft Company had yet to become affiliated with the Hawker line of jets, the DeHavilland Aircraft Company, which developed the 125 business jet, was purchased by the Hawker Siddeley Corporation and the 125 series was renamed the Hawker in 1968.
Over the next decade, both the Beech and Hawker series continued to expand, modify, and keep up with technological advances.
In 1980, Beech Aircraft Corp. became a subsidiary of Raytheon Company. Throughout the ‘80s, Beech Aircraft continued producing airliners, business jets – including the Beechjet, which was a 10-passenger corporate jet that featured the latest technology available. Two years later, Beech retrofitted the old Bonanza line to make it compliant with the safety standards of the time and keep up with consumer demand.
By the end of the decade, the corporation focused more on its ground force than its fleet and relocated its assembly operation from Japan to Kansas and provided hundreds of jobs for locals.
In the early ‘90s, Beech Aircraft’s parent company Raytheon acquired Raytheon Corporate Jets, makers of the Hawker line, from British Aerospace. Beech Aircraft and Raytheon Corporate Jets then merged to form Raytheon Aircraft.
This merger brought the best of Beech Aircraft and the Hawker line together under the Raytheon name, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation name was given to the well-established jet manufacturing company. This renaming was a result of its new formation by GS Capital Partners and Onex Partners and signified the importance of the Hawker and Beechcraft brands.
The Ground Force…
Throughout the company’s history and all its incarnations along the way, success has followed thanks to the quality jets and level of consumer satisfaction, all of which can be attributed to the dedication of Walter Beech and the thousands of men and women who helped make the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation what it is today.
Since the company’s inception in the 1930s, more than 54,000 aircraft have been built and more than 36,000 jets and turboprops still fly to this day. Currently, 6,000 people worldwide are employed by the corporation.
These are the people who do everything from engineering to maintenance to customer support. These people work at the company’s facilities in Kansas, Arkansas, the United Kingdom, and in Mexico, with the bulk of the worldwide staff being in Kansas.
Hawker Beechcraft also has more than 100 authorized service centers throughout the world, more than any other jet manufacturing company in the industry.
In light of the current worldwide economic crisis, Hawker Beechcraft signed an agreement with the state government of Kansas in 2010 that would keep its facilities in its hometown of Wichita until 2020 (at least) and retain 4000 employees in exchange for a $40 million incentive package. The deal was inked to ensure the multi-billion dollar company could stay ahead of its debt and continue to maintain consumer and employee satisfaction.
Keeping employees satisfied is something Hawker Beechcraft strives for and that is why anyone who works for the corporation is invited to partake in the company-sponsored clubs and networking groups that are offered after the work day is over so all employees can have a well-balance life of work and leisure time.
The company also offers several diversity initiatives for everyone from the LGBT community to young employees to the many multi-cultural networks of employees. All of these efforts are taken to treat employees with the respect they deserve. This employee satisfaction translates into the superior craftsmanship and care of the Hawker Beechcraft fleet and help makes it one of the leading jet manufacturing companies in the world.
The Hawker Beechcraft Fleet on JetCharters.com…
JetCharters.com is proud to offer Hawker Beechcraft aircraft through its network of quality charter operators. Simply submit a trip request
to view Hawker Beechcraft aircraft for charter.
As with our last article on Cessna, there are too many models to list here, though here are a few…
King Air 90
King Air 200