First lesson, November 2002; completed Private Pilot Certificate, July 2003; First Aircraft purchase, August 2003; type of aircraft, Beech Bonanza F33A, date of this article, huge smile on my face.
During the final stages of my lessons for the Private Pilot Certificate, I have to honestly say that I spent half of my study time researching airplanes to purchase. My research extended from Cessna 210’s, to Saratoga’s, to even the Aztec. My conditions were simple, yet hard to fill. I wanted a true 4-5 placed aircraft with speed, range and comfort. After tons of research, I found a ’74 Beech Bonanza F33A. 4 adults, true airspeed of 176 kts, full fuel and still room for luggage. Added to this aircraft was the IO-550 for 300 hp, tip tanks for 30 more gallons, GNS 530 with KFC 200 autopilot for navigation and auto-control, WX-1000 for thunderstorm awareness, and gami-injectors for better performance and engine efficiency.
It’s quick, it’s solid, it’s stable and it’s amazing. After rotation and gear up, the plane jumps from field elevation to 3000 feet in less than 3 minutes. Once level, the airspeed indicator pushes over 175 knots. Crosswind landings are not much of a problem for the steady and sturdy Bonanza. Landing the aircraft was the biggest adjustment from landing a Cessna. The attitude is more nose down, the airspeed is higher, you aim for the numbers and then pull back and keep it off the ground until the airspeed bleeds off. The trim is anywhere from 9-12 degrees nose up by the time you touch down.
The big difference between the F33A and the A36 Bonanza is the length. The F33A can have an aft cg issue if you aren’t careful with the weight and balance. It has a useful load of over 1100 lbs, but you have to keep the big people up front. In regards to comfort, the plane is roomy for my 6′ 2″, 215 lb. frame. Though the seat is all the way back, it’s right where it would go even if I had another two inches to go back. Headroom is no problem either, but if I was 6′ 4″, I could see it being an issue. However, my passengers (including the front passenger) have no problem reclining all the way back for a catnap.
I was able to acquire an insurance policy with the conditions that I had to acquire my IFR and15 hours dual time with an instructor who had 25 hours in the F33A. The premium of the insurance policy was $6400/annual. OK, it’s up there, but it will go down once the policy is due again. Next was the annual, which was due the same month of the purchase. I did an extensive “pre-buy” inspection with the intention that I was going to roll it into an annual. The annual was $4500. I did some non-mandatory maintenance so that I would feel that I was starting with a fresh, new plane. Another annual cost that should be less expensive next year.
James Girardi – Grew up looking into the sky hoping that one day could be soaring above the clouds. Today owns his own BE-33 Bonanza F33/A and also runs The Flying Forum. Read more about his flying experiences and others at: [http://www.theflyingforum.com]