Beechcraft’s new special-edition turboprop is fit for a king

Textron is offering a western-themed King Ranch edition of the ever-popular Beechcraft King Air 350i

By M.d. Seaton 15/01/2019

When Textron Aviation recently introduced the King Ranch edition of its Beechcraft King Air 350i twin-engine turboprop, it begged the question, what does one have to do with the other? Well, the co-founder and namesake of the vast, South Texas ranch was a pilot—a river pilot. Captain Richard King, who purchased the South Texas property and established the ranch in 1853 to raise cattle, had been making a living by piloting steamboats on the Rio Grande.

The plane and the property also share the traits of longevity and versatility. King Ranch, which, at 334,000 hectares, is the largest ranch in Texas, has been in business since 1853. The operation now includes ranching (cattle and quarter horses), farming (citrus, turfgrass, cotton, milo, sugar cane, corn and palm trees) and hunting, as well as a saddle shop, a publishing company, a John Deere dealership, and a branding deal with Ford for the F-150 pickup.

Likewise, the King Air model has been around for a long time; the original King Air made its first flight in 1964, and since then, about 7500 aircraft from the line have been produced. And while Textron bills the 350i as the world’s most popular business turboprop (the company delivered 45 examples in 2017 and 35 through the first three quarters of 2018), the plane has also been used by law enforcement departments, missionary and aeromedical organizations, and the military.

In fact, in 2008, the US Department of Defense, ordered as many as 30 specially equipped extended-range versions of the King Air 350i-the 350ER-to use for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support for ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was before Beechcraft was acquired by Textron. Beechcraft began delivering the planes in 2010, but they were considered so valuable to the war effort that the defense department couldn’t wait for Beechcraft to build and deliver the rest of the order. So instead, the DoD acquired eight pre-owned King Airs and, after removing the cabins’ wood veneers, drink cabinets, audio systems and TV screens, it retrofitted the planes with listening devices and video cameras.

You don’t get any spy gear with the King Ranch edition of the 350i, but the interior does feature pewter trim accents below the four tables, bulkhead quilting that displays the ranch’s Running W logo, King Ranch-branded throw carpets, hair-on-hide lumbar pillows, an ostrich muslin vinyl headliner and window panels, Tendu side ledges and cabinetry, and crocodile-embossed leather upper sidewalls. The livery is white with lustrous brown and black stripes, and it also showcases the Running W logo, adjacent to the entry door and on the inboard side of the winglets.

The 350i accommodates eight people in the passenger area, travels nonstop as far as 3340 (land) kilometres, and has a maximum cruising speed of 577km/h. Deliveries are expect to begin in 2019.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Embraer Is Testing Self-Flying eVTOLs Over Rio de Janeiro

The tech will lead to air taxis flying themselves as part of urban transport.

By Michael Verdon

12/05/2022

The First Electric Aeroplane That You Can Fast-Charge Is Coming

Diamond Aircraft’s eDA40 can be recharged in about 20 minutes.

By J. George Gorant

06/05/2022

The First Flying-Car Airport Opens In The UK

But you can’t take off just yet.

By Tori Latham

05/05/2022

Furniture Maker RH Has Designed Sleek Private Jets And A Yacht You Can Charter

The upscale home-furnishings company is bringing a trained design eye to both often-overlooked interiors.

By Helena Madden

02/05/2022

Inside The First All-Private Space Mission To The International Space Station

The Ax-1 crew is scheduled to splash down after conducting scientific research aboard the International Space Station for nearly two weeks.

By Michael Verdon

28/04/2022

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected