AOPA's 2001 Bonanza Sweepstakes

A Technology Bonanza

December 1, 2001

The transformation is complete — except for the paperwork

I sure could have used the AOPA Sweepstakes Bonanza on the day that I traveled from Santa Maria, California, to Mineral Wells, Texas, to pick it up. Instead of proceeding on a straight-line GPS-direct course toward my destination, I spent hours sitting in airport terminals and riding in a Chevy van.

If I'd flown the sweepstakes Bonanza I would have sped from Santa Maria to Mineral Wells, covering the 1,121-mile route nearly three and a half hours faster than it took me to make the same trip by commercial scheduled airline and ground transportation. One of the goals of the sweepstakes Bonanza project was to improve utility, and this comparison illustrates one of the strengths of this airplane — and of general aviation.

The physical refurbishment of our 1966 Beech V35 Bonanza has taken a little more than a year. Almost every modification that the AOPA staff wanted has been installed. The result is an airplane that would be the pride of any owner — but also an airplane that is complex and sophisticated. The winner will have to learn how to efficiently and safely operate his or her new Bonanza. A V-tail Bonanza is similar to a thoroughbred horse — it requires attention since it must be loaded cor.rectly and flown with a gentle touch. If the winner learns to respect and honor these traits, he or she will be well rewarded.

In the beginning

The sweepstakes Bonanza project has been the most thoroughly reported project in AOPA's history. This is the ninth magazine article that we've printed on the refurbishment. In addition, there have been online updates every week this year. To access all the progress reports, visit the Web site (

We picked the Bonanza for this project for three reasons: One, because it is one of general aviation's most successful and recognizable airplanes; two, because just about any pilot would love to own this high-performance single; and three, because there Us a huge number of FAA-approved upgrades and modifications available for Bonanzas.

The sweepstakes Bonanza project has been enthusiastically endorsed by the industry and by the AOPA membership. Everyone seems to feel a sense of kinship to this project. At EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, AOPA staff watched as member after member proudly posed for photographs in front of their (hoped for) new airplane. It's an exciting airplane to look at, to sit in, and to dream about.

The path of progress

The title search completed by the AOPA Title and Escrow service showed that N14422 (the original N number) had changed hands three times before AOPA bought it.

On July 1, 1966, Mann-Kline /nc. of Kansas City, Mis-souri, took possession and flew N14422 for 601 hours before selling it to Air Travel Services Inc., of New York, New York, on December 1, 1970. During the next 15 years an additional 2,243 hours ticked over on the tachometer. A set of Brittain tip tanks (J.L. Osborne now owns this company) was installed in 1974, both fuel bladders were replaced in 1977, and the airplane was repainted in 1979. In 1985, N14422 was sold to an individual in Santa Maria, California. There it languished for 15 years (flying only 289 hours) until AOPA bought it in September 2000.

N14422 again became a flying airplane, but not for fun or favor. No, our Bonanza has flown from Santa Maria to Ada, Oklahoma, to West Chicago, Illinois, to Salina, Kansas, to Houston, Texas, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, back to Salina, to Batavia, Ohio, to Mineral Wells, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama, back to Mineral Wells, then on to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as part of the refurbishment plan. The actual refurbishment and installation of all the upgrades ended in mid-September when Air Mod finished the leather-covered interior.

Certification of the Meggitt EFIS system — a gamble AOPA took on because we thought that N2001B (the new N number) should have the most modern equipment available in the twenty-first century — could delay delivery of the Bonanza to the winner. The aircraft is now back in Mineral Wells, home of Meggitt and S-Tec, where the certification team is working with the FAA toward the issuance of a supplemental type certificate (STC). Is it a crapshoot? You bet! Will it get done in time? We don't know. I've suggested that AOPA might want to change the rules of the sweepstakes so the staff (especially me) could fly the airplane for a year in a long-term test. Sure, I like flying the airplane but my principal concern was for the winner — it is our duty to make sure that all the bugs are ironed out before we let the airplane out of our grasp. No such luck. The Bonanza will be delivered to its new owner early in 2002.

What do you get?

The winner will be awarded a 1966 V35 Bonanza with a Superior Air Parts certified 300-horsepower IO-550 engine and a Tornado Alley Turbo turbonormalizer system. A new McCauley three-blade propeller is bolted on the crankshaft flange. To make high-altitude flight legal and safe, Mountain High Oxygen provided a complete system, featuring its patented oxygen-conserving EDS modules.

A TKS ice-protection system that pumps anti-icing fluid through laser-drilled holes in titanium leading edges installed on the wings and stabilators, and to the windshield and propeller, will lessen the danger from inadvertant icing encounters.

Avionics from Garmin and Meggitt, and a sophisticated autopilot from S-Tec are all perfectly laid out on a custom-made instrument panel designed and built by the avionics shop at J.A. Air Center. A new dual yoke assembly with two beefy control wheels from Cygnet Aerospace adds confidence and utility. An Avionics Innovations AM/FM/CD stereo player stands by to deliver entertainment or information when desired by the pilot or passengers. A modern wet compass from SIRS Product Services will help the new owner with navigation chores.

New pilot and copilot windows with frameless vents, a Speed Sloped windshield and side windows, as well as flap and aileron gap seals from Beryl D'Shannon were installed before the paint experts at Murmer Aircraft Services applied the official AOPA paint scheme — one that the AOPA staff dreamed up with assistance from Craig Barnett at Scheme Designers.

J.L. Osborne upgraded the tip tank fuel system. Really, folks, the list is long — tires by Goodyear, a battery by Concorde, a standby alternator by B&C Specialty Products, paint by Alpha Coatings, new fuel cells by Aero-Tech Services, seat belts and shoulder harnesses by Aircraft Belts Inc., engine oil by ExxonMobil, six oil-analysis kits by Engine Oil Analysis, a complete Comet Flash strobe light system by Whelen, and the list goes on. More than 40 suppliers pitched in to make the 2001 sweepstakes Bonanza a success. For a complete list of contributors, see below.

The weights, please

Early in 2002 some lucky pilot will win the Bonanza — a personal airplane that can take off short, climb high, go fast and far, and land well. An airplane with the finest paint, interior, and instrument panel refurbishments. An airplane with avionics that lighten the pilot's workload through databases, pictorial displays, and simple menu-driven step-by-step procedures. An airplane that has been upgraded from spinner to tail cone with the twin goals of safety and comfort guiding the process. In short, an airplane that the new owner will not only be proud of but that will do what a general aviation airplane is supposed to do — provide safe, comfortable, dependable transportation.

But there are a few caveats. We didn't add all these improvements to this airplane without losing something. What did we lose? Useful load! Let's take a look at the weights.

When AOPA acquired the Bonanza, it weighed 2,150 pounds and had last been weighed in July 1988. On May 25, 2001, after the engine / turbonormalizer / prop installation, the avionics / instrument panel/autopilot installation, the tip tank fuel system/strobe system installation, the B&C Specialty Products standby alternator installation, the Speed Sloped windshield / glareshield installation, and the new fuel bladders, the airplane had gained 195 pounds and weighed 2,345 pounds.

On July 20, after the installation of the TKS reservoir and ice-protection system and the new side windows and paint, the Bonanza was again weighed. It had gained an additional 70 pounds and was up to 2,415 pounds. The interior and sound insulation package weight gain added another 48 pounds. The new empty weight is 2,463 pounds, resulting in a useful load of 1,137 pounds.

Let's load N2001B with two 170-pounders in the front seats, two 140-pounders in the backseats, and 80 pounds of baggage. This leaves 425 pounds (73 gallons) for fuel. With the installation of the J.L. Osborne tip tanks, the gross weight was boosted 200 pounds to 3,600 pounds, unless the tip tanks are empty — then the gross weight is limited to 3,588 pounds. This example was calculated with the empty tip tank weights, although in actual practice it is advisable to always keep a small amount of fuel in each tip tank. Saving 17 gallons of fuel for reserves (fudging on the high side of the fuel required for one hour's cruising) results in enough fuel for a three-hour flight. Three hours at 170 knots (no problem with this airplane) yields a leg of 510 nautical miles. Sounds pretty good, but how about the balance?

This loading results in a center of gravity (CG) at 85.48. This CG is more than a half inch forward of the aft limit of 86. The problem comes as we burn fuel. Since the main fuel tanks are located at station 75, every gallon of fuel we burn lightens the load forward of the CG. This moves the CG aft, and after two hours in the air the CG has moved aft of the limit. Neither legal nor safe.

John Eckalbar, in his book Flying the Beech Bonanza, devotes a couple of chapters to weight-and-balance factors in Bonanzas. Flying a Bonanza with the CG aft of the limit will degrade longitudinal stability and reduce stick forces per G. As the CG moves aft the pilot will find that the airplane will no longer maintain its trimmed airspeed. The lighter stick forces may result in the pilot overcontrolling the airplane and possibly overstressing the airframe. To learn more about handling — and loading — the Bonanza, the winner should make it a priority to attend the Bonanza Baron Pilot Proficiency Program (BPPP). BPPP is a subsidiary of the American Bonanza Society. The winner will receive a complimentary BPPP training course and a year's membership in the ABS.

Experienced Bonanza pilots may be scratching their heads at the figure of 17 gallons an hour used in the above weight-and-balance computations. They may say that you can get an IO-550 engine to burn a lot less fuel. Sure it's possible to burn less fuel, but going slow is not why people fly Bonanzas.

The 17-gallon-per-hour consumption is normal when the engine power is set using operating procedures developed by Tornado Alley Turbo. The new owner will learn to fly his engine using WOT (wide-open throttle) and LOP (lean of peak) settings. Tornado Alley's engine management procedures result in high airspeed numbers; a clean, cool-running engine; and acceptable fuel consumption figures.

The Bonanza is a great traveling airplane. The Skandia Corp. sound package cuts cabin noise, and the supportive seats crafted by Air Mod make long flights a pleasure rather than an endurance test. The Superior Air Parts engine, Tornado Alley Turbo turbonormalizer system, and McCauley propeller are smooth and strong up into the flight levels, while the TKS ice-protection system provides help 'hen icing conditions are inadvertently encountered.

The avionics center stack features Garmin avionics. This equipment is sophisticated and pilot-designed so it's easy to use and packed with features. The twin liquid-crystal displays of the Meggitt EFIS present information to the pilot in a new format — one that takes a few hours to get used to, but soon is welcomed because of its clear depictions and instantaneous data. A Goodrich WX-500 Stormscope points out lightning discharges. This information will help the winner plot a safe course, especially when flying in weather that might contain embedded thunderstorms. Finally, the S-Tec Fifty-Five X autopilot ties the Garmin and Meggitt components together, processes the inputs, and efficiently.flies the airplane, which increases safety, especially during single-pilot instrument flying.

The sweepstakes Bonanza is exciting. It's been exciting from the day the project started, and with all the upgrades and bells and whistles, you can bet the winner will be excited too.

E-mail the author at [email protected].


AOPA would like to thank the following companies that are donating or discounting their products and services to refurbish AOPA's 2001 Bonanza Sweepstakes project or are otherwise assisting with the project.

Engine compartment paint
Ada Aircraft Painting LLC, 2800 Airport Rd, Hangar D, Ada, Oklahoma 74820; telephone 580/332-6086; fax 580/332-4547; e-mail [email protected].

Fuel cells (bladders)
Aero-Tech Services, Inc., 8354 Secura Way, Santa Fe Springs, California 90670; telephone 562/696-1128; fax 562/945-1328.

Inertia reels, seat belts, and shoulder harnesses
Aircraft Belts, Inc., 200 Anders Lane, Kemah, Texas 77565; telephone 281/334-3004; fax 281/538-2225;

Medeco door locks
Aircraft Security and Alert, 3863 Royal Lane, Dallas, Texas 75229; telephone 214/956-9563; fax 214/956-9960;

Air Mod, 2025 Sporty's Drive, Clermont County Airport, Batavia, Ohio 45103; telephone 513/732-6688;

Alpha Coatings, Inc., 310 West 12th St., Washington, Missouri 63090; telephone 800 875-3903; fax 636 390-3906;

Technical guidance and one-year free membership for winner
American Bonanza Society, P.O. Box 12888, Wichita, Kansas 67277; telephone 316/945-1700; fax 316/945-1710;

AM/FM radio with CD player
Avionics Innovations, Inc., 2450 Montecito Rd., Ramona, California 92065; telephone 760/788 2602; fax 760/789 7098;

Sun visors
Ayers, Inc., 2006 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad, California 92008; telephone 760/431-7600; fax 760/431-2848.

Standby alternator system
B&C Specialty Products, Inc., 123 East 4th, Newton, Kansas 67114; telephone 316/283-8000;

Sloped windshield, windows, vortex generators, aileron and flap gap seals
Beryl D'Shannon Aviation Specialties, Inc., P.O. Box 27966, Golden Valley, Minnesota 55427; telephone 800/328-4629 or 763/535-0505; fax 763/535-3759;

Proficiency course for winner and spouse
Bonanza/Baron Pilot Proficiency Program, Inc., Mid-Continent Airport, P.O. Box 12888, Wichita, Kansas 67277; telephone 970/377-1877; fax 970/377-1512; e-mail [email protected];

Prepurchase inspection assistance
Coastal Valley Aviation, Inc., 3119 Liberator St., Santa Maria, California 93455; telephone 805/928-7701; fax 805/928-4427;

Aircraft battery
Concorde Battery Corporation, 2009 San Bernardino Road, West Covina, California 91792; telephone 626-813-1234; fax 626-813-1235;

Dual control yoke and control wheels
Cygnet Aerospace Corporation, , P.O. Box 6603, Los Osos, California 93412; telephone 805/528-2376; fax 805/528 2377;

Engine oil analysis kits
Engine Oil Analysis, 7820 South 70th East Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74133; telephone/fax 918/492-5844; e-mail [email protected].

Engine oil
ExxonMobil Aviation Lubricants, 7400 Beaufont Springs Drive, Suite 410, Richmond, Virginia 23225; telephone 804-743-5762; fax: 804-743-5784;

Avionics suite (including audio panel / marker beacon / intercom, transponder, and dual nav / com / GPS units)
Garmin International, 1200 East 151st St., Olathe, Kansas 66062; telephone 913/397-8200; fax 913/397-8282;

Precision matched fuel injection nozzles
General Aviation Modifications, Inc., 2800 Airport Rd., Hangar A, Ada, Oklahoma 74820; telephone 888-FLY-GAMI, 580/436-4833; fax 580/436-6622;

Tires and tubes
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, 1144 E. Market Street, Akron, Ohio 44316; telephone 330/796-6323; fax 330/796-6535;

Avionics and instrument panel installation
J. A. Air Center, DuPage Airport, 3N060 Powis Rd., West Chicago, Illinois 60185; telephone 800/323-5966 or 630/584-3200; fax 630/584-7883;

Wing tip fuel tank system
J. L. Osborne, Inc.,, 18173 Osborne Rd., Victorville, California 92392; telephone 800/963 8477, 760/245 8477; fax 760/245 5735;

Engine monitor
J.P. Instruments Inc., 3185-B Airway Ave., Costa Mesa, California 92626; telephone 800/345-4574, 714/557-3805; fax 714/557-9840;

Beryl D'Shannon upgrade and modification installations
Therese and Doug Kelly, Rt 2, Box R45, Military Highway, Mercedes, Texas; telephone 888/787-0689.

McCauley Propeller Systems, 3535 McCauley Drive, Vandalia, Ohio 45377; telephone 800/621-PROP or 937/890-5246; fax 937/890-6001;

MAGIC EFIS display system
Meggitt Avionics, Inc., 10 Ammon Drive, Manchester, New Hampshire 03103; telephone 603/669-0940; fax 603/669-0931;

Four-place oxygen system with Electronic Delivery System (EDS)
Mountain High E & S Company, 625 S.E. Salmon Avenue, Redmond, Oregon 97756-8696; telephone 800/468-8185, 541/923-4100; fax 541/923-4141;

Murmer Aircraft Services, Houston SW Airport, 503 McKeever Rd. #1504, Arcola, Texas 77583; telephone 281/431 3030; fax 281/431 3031;

Rebuilt seat back assist cylinders
G. Nichols & Co., 1923 Jackson Street, St. Clair, Michigan 48079; telephone 810/329-7083.

Audio landing gear and overspeed (Vne) warning system
P2, Inc., P.O. Box 26, Mound, Minnesota 55364-0026; telephone 888/921-8359, 952/472-2577; fax 952/472-7071;

Landing gear retraction boot set
Performance Aero, East Kansas City Airport, Hangar L-1, Grain Valley, Missouri 64029; telephone 800/200-3141 or 816/847-5588; fax 816/847-5599;

Airplane dealer
San Diego Aircraft Sales, Gillespie Field, 1987 N. Marshall Ave., Ste. 110, El Cajon, California 92020; telephone 619/562-0990; fax 619/562-0121;

Paint design
Scheme Designers, 277 Tom Hunter Road, Fort Lee, New Jersey 07024, 201-947-5889;

Magnetic compass
SIRS Product Services, 25422 Trabuco Rd. #105, PMB 436, Lake Forest, California 92630 telephone 310/325-3422; fax 949/951-0778;

Cabin sound suppression kit
Skandia Inc., 5002 North Highway 251, Davis Junction, Illinois 61020; telephone 815/393-4600; fax 815/393-4814;

Camloc cowling fasteners
Skybolt Aerospace Fasteners, 9000 Airport Road, Leesburg Municipal Airport, Leesburg, Florida 34788; telephone 352/326-0001; fax 352/326-0011;

Autopilot and EFIS certification
S-Tec Corporation, One S-Tec Way, Municipal Airport, Mineral Wells, Texas 76067; telephone 940/325-9406; fax 940/325-3904;

Superior Air Parts, Inc., 14280 Gillis Rd, Dallas, Texas 75244; telephone 972/233-4433; fax 972/233-8809;

Airframe anti-ice system
TKS Ice Protection Systems, 3213 Arnold Ave., Salina, Kansas 67401; telephone 888/865-5511 or 785/493-0946; fax 785/493-0959;

Turbonormalizer system and annual inspection
Tornado Alley Turbo, Inc., 300 Airport Rd, Ada, Oklahoma 74820; telephone 877/359-8284 or 580/332-3510; fax 580/332-4577;

Engine buildup and test
Western Skyways, Inc., 1865 Launa Dr., Montrose, Colorado 81401; telephone 800/575-9929 or 970/249-0232; fax 970/249-4155;

Strobe lights
Whelen Engineering Co., Route 145, Winthrop Road, Chester, Connecticut 06412-0684; telephone 860/526-9504; fax 860/526-4078;