From the Cockpit Part 41: Beechcraft Baron

Ryan Flies


Editor’s Note: This is part 41 of an ongoing series documenting the flights of active-duty US Navy Pilot Ryan Rankin on his journey to fly 52 planes in 52 weeks through the year 2017.

Setting aside the warbirds and aerobatics for the moment, Rankin straps in for perhaps his most relaxing flight yet, in the Beechcraft Baron. A “straight” airplane, says Rankin, the Baron lies between no-frills and fancy, giving just enough comfort for an incredibly smooth ride, but not so much to become cost-prohibitive.

A multi-engine aircraft introduced in the late 1950s, much of the Baron’s longevity can be traced to its blend of affordability and performance. Making the jump to a multi-engine craft bumps the price tag considerably, and a brand new Baron still goes for more than a million dollars, but a used one can be found for less than 100 thousand. In terms of cars or pencils, that’s a lot. When speaking of multi-engine aircraft, it’s not. But there’s no sense in buying, even cheap, if the ride isn’t worth it. Rankin thinks it just might be. “I was surprised at how comfortable and smooth and desirable an airplane it is,” he says.

Taking off with his buddy and squadmate, Jimmy Gaston, also a pilot instructor, the pair stows friend Patrick in the back (he’s got dibs on the next flight) and sets in for a leisurely 30-minute flight over Blackwater Bay and back to the airfield in Milton, FL, where Gaston houses his Baron. And with the Baron, there’s no need for fancy flying or a notable wartime history to impress—the quality of the flight speaks for itself. “It was super-smooth,” says Rankin, especially after trainers designed to highlight pilot error. The Baron also brings an autopilot and yaw dampener to bear, requiring even less hands-on piloting. “It just does what you ask it to,” he says.

Put all this together, and it’s a recipe for freedom, with the ability to “bomb about” the region or even head out cross-country. Gaston picked up for an impromptu trip to the FSU game last weekend, turning a daylong ordeal into a quick trip. “It’s super-convenient and the way to go, if you ask me,” says Rankin. “It makes the area around you feel a lot smaller.”

For more about the flight in Rankin's own words and a video of the flight, follow the link below.

Pictured: Ryan Rankin and Jimmy Gaston fly the Beechcraft Baron. Photo courtesy of Ryan Rankin.

Ryan Flies

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