At the end of WW2 men who had been trained by our nation’s military to fly wanted to continue flying as a hobby. As they found employment and disposable income they began buying aircraft. Two companies saw the coming general aviation boom and prepared for it. Cessna built their Model 195, which was basically a continuation of their pre-war designs. It had a high wing, tailwheel design a radial engine. Beechcraft, on the other hand, designed an all new plane with a metal low-wing, monoplane design using Continental’s E-185 horizontally opposed six cylinder engine, and retractable landing gear.
Known as the Model 35 Bonanza, it went on sale in 1947. The most obvious design feature is the V-tail. Rather than the standard horizontal and vertical stabilizers, the Beechcraft design team decided to combine the functions of these control surfaces on two control surfaces called “ruddervators”.
The Bonanza is a very high performing aircraft and quickly gained a reputation as the “forked-tail doctor killer”. Overconfident pilots, often in very skilled non-aviation careers, have crashed a fair number of Bonanzas. Steve Wozniak is among those who have been bit by the Bonanza. A V-tail Bonanza, tail number N3794N, is the aircraft that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were riding in when it crashed shortly after take-off on Feb. 3, 1959 killing all three and pilot Roger Peterson.
It’s not all grim news, however. The fourth Beechcraft Bonanza produced, named Waikiki Beach, was flown by Captain William Odom from Honolulu, HI to the continental US in January 1949. This was the first time a light aircraft had made this flight. Of course, it had been fitted with extra fuel tanks to allow such a long flight. In March of the same year, Capt. Odom flew Waikiki Beach from Honolulu to Teterboro, NJ setting a nonstop flight record of 5,273 miles.
The Model 33 Debonair (later Bonanza) was a Model 35 with conventional control surfaces released in 1959. It is still in production as the Model 36.