Beech 18 History
The Twin Beech became one of the world's most versatile and well loved aircraft. Produced by the Beech Aircraft Corporation, the prototype first flew January 15, 1937, and production models began flying off the assembly line later in 1937. Production continued for 32 years until 1969--holding a world record for longest produced aircraft for many years. Over 9,000 Beech 18s were made, fitting needs across a wide range of uses from executive transports, cargo, passenger aircraft, military, to sky diving, and could be found with tail wheels, tricycle gear, skis, floats.
In 1955, deliveries of the E18S "Super" Beech 18 commenced featuring a heightened fuselage for more headroom and an air-stair door among other new features.
Our 1957 Beech E18S, N21011, has a long, varied, glorious and inglorious history. Read all about it below, a narrative dedicated to this and the many other Twin Beech workhorses.
If you ever flew N21011, we'd love to hear your stories. Please contact us.
1957 - A Workhorse is Born
Born July 11, 1957, lucky 7/11, in Wichita, Kansas. N21011 was first welcomed by Danly Machine Specialties Inc. of Chicago, Illinois which made die sets, supplies and mechanical presses. Most likely "Zero-One-One" flew their executives across the country for sales and important meetings.
1958 - A Stately Purpose
In June 1958, the Missouri State Highway Department acquired 011. For 20 years--the longest any one entity owned the aircraft--it served Missouri with class.
1975 - Not Nearly the End
Many Beech 18s are grounded due to an FAA directive requiring expensive modifications, but 011 persevered and continued with the Missouri Highway Department.
1978 - The Freight Dog Life
21 years old, 011 finally retired from public service and was sold to Welco Leasing Corporation and had a cargo cabin floor installed. In 1980 it again sold to a private company, and again in February 1983 to Delco Delp Corporation.
1984 - An Intervention
On perhaps its darkest day, April 23, 1984, 011 was discovered at Cistern Cay with cocaine cargo. Seized by the Bahamas Customs Department its days as a drug runner were over. It had been running drugs between the Bahamas and Oklahoma. The mastermind behind the operation was later caught and sentenced to life in prison.
1985 - California Bound
After a brief stint with another private company, 011 landed in Perris, California for yet another use, sky diving.
1988 - Northbound
After 3 years of sky diving, 011 continued north to Auburn, California just northeast of Sacramento to join Auburn Flying Service possibly doing mail runs across northern California.
1993 - Don't Tell Rudolph
Five years later, the northern migration continued taking 011 all the way to western Alaska, Mekoryuk to be exact, and the Bering Sea Reindeer Products company. Yes, 011 for a time transported reindeer meat and products. After its glory days transporting company executives and state officials, its descent to drugs and reindeer meat marked an end to 011's glamorous days.
1997-2003 - Changing Roles
011 may have then sat idle for two years, but in 1997 found a new life with a private owner. The next 6 years marked short stints with various owners. In 2003, again, it was looking for a new home.
2004 - Private Retreat
From 2004 to 2011 a private owner in Georgia found 011 and began to bring back the glory that it once symbolized.
2005 - Found its way into the movie Walk the Line with a small role.
Yet another private owner, this one in Florida.
2020 - California Dreaming
Once again back to California to join Learn to Fly San Diego's fleet. Now 63 years young and aching to provide the first class experience of its yesteryears.
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-985, 450hp