March 22, 2012
By Jim Moore
The Beechcraft Baron G58 may get a new mission: spy plane.
The venerable Baron 58, Hawker Beechcraft's last and arguably the greatest of the light piston twins, a general aviation mainstay, may get a new mission as a spy plane, according to Hawker Beechcraft officials.
First introduced in 1969, the Baron 58 (now the G58, with the addition of a glass cockpit on new models) is a slightly larger cousin of the Baron 55 introduced in 1961, and remains in production to the present day. The piston twin is known for its ramp presence and its steady flight characteristics, and can manage a useful load of 1,504 pounds. As modern electronics have slimmed down, the potential for configuring the long-serving Baron for airborne intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions has emerged.
Jay Gibson, vice president of special missions at Hawker Beechcraft, said the Baron could soon join the King Air turboprops and other models already in service for military and intelligence applications.
“With available modern technology sensors, we continue to look for ways to further develop and enhance our entire line of products to demonstrate ISR capabilities—including the Baron G58,” Gibson said.
Hawker Beechcraft is working with various electronics manufacturers to develop packages of aircraft and electronics for military and intelligence applications.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
A state-of-the art medical facility on remote Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay serves as a lasting memorial to the late Dr. David B. Nichols’ dedication to providing medical care to the community for 30 years. Now, Nichols’ aviation legacy—flying a Cessna 182 or Robinson R44 to the island every Thursday to provide that care—is set in stone.
The AOPA Medical Advisory Board is the latest group to urge quick action on the proposed FAA rule that would allow thousands more pilots to fly without the need for a third class medical certificate.
The Perlan Project is less than a year away from the first flight of a glider being built to ride waves near the edge of space. While construction continues in Oregon, the team’s pilots are staying proficient in more ordinary aircraft.
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