One of the most popular of the post-World War II single engine private aircraft, the Beech Bonanza has maintained its popularity in its seventh decade of service. First flown in December of 1945, the Bonanza was certified by the CAA in 1947 and was an immediate hit with over 1,000 built that year. The “V-tail” Bonanza remained in production through several design variants until 1982, when the 10,403rd and last “V-tail” was delivered. The single tail version of the Bonanza remains in production in 2017. The N35 variant of the Bonanza was introduced in 1961. It featured a 19-inch cabin extension, a more powerful engine, and a higher gross weight. The most noticeable difference from earlier Bonanzas is the larger third window on each side of the fuselage. A total of 280 were built.
Marian Rice Hart purchased this aircraft in July 1961. Ms. Hart flew the aircraft extensively for the next 20 years. Born in 1891, she was the first woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in chemical engineering. She later received a master’s degree in Geology from Columbia University. Beginning in 1936, she sailed a 75-foot ketch around the world, completing two thirds of the journey alone over the next three years. An expert navigator, she wrote a textbook on the subject that was used by the U.S. Navy throughout World War II.
Ms. Hart learned to fly in 1946 at the age of 54. She made her first trans-Atlantic flight with a co-pilot in 1953. After buying the Bonanza in 1961, she had it modified for long range flights and made the first of her seven solo trans-Atlantic flights in 1966 at the age of 74. She flew this plane at one time or another over every continent except Antarctica. She made most of her flights alone until the age of 87. Her final tour of South America in the Bonanza ended in Tucson with a minor landing accident in 1981. The aircraft was donated to the Pima Air and Space Museum in December of that year. Marian Hart passed away in July 1990 at the age of 98.
Marion Rice Hart, 1980
Pima Air & Space Museum
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