You know the classic Twin Beech Model 18, right? It has twin tails, a tailwheel, and a bit of a pug nose.
That is until Pacific Airmotive took it into its Burbank shop and created a tricycle-gear, single-tail, high-forehead pointy-nose business aircraft and commuter airliner in the 1960s from this pre-war design.
Called the Tradewind Beech, one of three known to exist flew to SUN ‘n FUN 2018 from Mena, Arkansas.
The crew at SUN ‘n FUN included Mike Shepard, David Brainerd, and Les Perryman. The trip to the April fly-in was made at about 180 knots.
As radical as the Tradewind Beech appears at first glance, its design has a couple of conservative secrets. The horizontal tail is original Twin Beech structure with new tips at the end in place of the original vertical fins and rudders.
And that new towering single tail? The vertical fin is made from part of another Beech 18 horizontal stabilizer, upended and faired with new metal.
The nosewheel is free-castering, so ground turning is accomplished with differential braking and throttling, Mike explains.
The single-tail Beech that made its way to SUN ‘n FUN is one of 48 converted by Pacific Airmotive from surplus U.S. Air Force C-45s.
It began life in 1942 as an AT-7 navigator trainer. A decade later, this airframe was one of 900 Air Force Twin Beeches taken back to the Beechcraft factory for revamping to late-model C-45 standards. Its military life ended with seven years of dry-bone storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona before Pacific Airmotive bought it.
With its facelift, this airplane’s civilian second career included time with Denali Airlines in Alaska. The enlarged picture windows in the cabin were popular with Alaska passengers flying over the grandeur of the 49th State.
Capable of carrying as many as 12 people, this Beech is currently configured for six as a business machine.
Shepard, Perryman, and Brainerd have had the Tradewind Beech for three years. It’s for sale now, as they prepare to rebuild a pair of traditional Beech 18s.