By MICHAEL B. JAGER
Upon graduating from ROTC from Stanford University, I found myself in Bartow, Florida, in 1956 for primary flight training in the USAF. Then, in 1958, after two-and-half years flying the T-34, T-28, T-33, F84F and the F100 A and D, I was asked to go home because of an oversupply of pilots.
The next few years I rented a few aircraft to be able to continue my flying.
While pursuing a career in the house building business, a friend, Buzz Tupman, called and asked if I would go halves on a Beech Bonanza. I said sure and that started the odyssey.
We bought 5610S in 1969 through Van Nuys Beechcraft. The man selling it brought it down to Orange County Airport for a demonstration and we had a complete electrical failure in the pattern.
Not the best way to sell an airplane, but we bought it anyway — and what a smart move that was.
It is a 1966 V35, D 8177, and was in excellent condition at the time, except for a minor electrical problem. It still is in top shape today. It has the original paint scheme as it did when it came out of the factory and has always been hangared, except when moving around.
In 1979 we redid the entire avionics panel with Mini-King equipment, including a DME, two NAV-COMs, a flight director and a King autopilot. This package is still in the aircraft and is used quite often shooting approaches with very few hiccups. Not bad for 38 years of use.
My wife, Margaret, and I bought out Buzz in 1979 and we still own and fly this beautiful bird. We operate out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, and live in Newport Beach. I have over 5,600 hours in 5610S and have enjoyed all of them in this wonderful machine. I am convinced it was made on a Wednesday.
For the first 15 years we used our Bonanza for business. Then we thought why not take a world sightseeing tour and fly it around the world? So we did in 1984.
We went west to east visiting 25 countries in 220 hours of flying, 33,000 nm in distance in about three months.
A great adventure it was and we will always have lasting memories of that wonderful trip.
With few exceptions we found people all over the world to be extremely friendly and helpful.
People at the airports where we landed always commented on our Bonanza and how beautiful it was.
We have also flown all over the U.S. at least six times. We often fly to the northwest, where we love to see that part of the United States. Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada are our favorites.
It’s hard to relate how much confidence we have in this airplane that has had so little maintenance problems.
We are on our fifth engine. The fourth was fried because some jet fuel was pumped in when I was not present. Big mistake! The replacement engine was installed by Dave Monte of Minden, Nevada, in 1996 and to this day still runs like the well-oiled machine it is.
In 2012, I was honored to receive the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of safe flying with no accidents or citations.
But it’s not about me. This is truly a story of a wonderful Beech product we have feel privileged to own all these years.
Now we are hoping to give 5610S to our eldest grandson, Rylan Jager, who is a pilot and works for Northrop-Grumman Corp. This will enable us to keep the Bonanza in our family.