This is a continuation of Day of the Turbine (Part 1): Flying on the Convair 580…
Realistically, Beech knew the 18 was in need of replacement. Though the 18 was produced until 1972, by the mid 1960’s there were thousands upon thousands of light utility, cargo, and twin-engine training aircraft that needed replacement. There was no reason for Beech to forfeit that market.
At the same time, Beech had become successful in the recreational and corporate aviation avenue. Executives who used their salary to buy smaller single-engine Beeches would often buy larger twins, such as the Baron, for their companies. With turboprops becoming popular around the same time and the demand for executive travel growing, Beech needed both a larger Baron and an 18 replacement, in one frame.
The first King Air was almost exactly that – a stretched Baron with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A engines. In some ways, the original King Air is reminiscent of a Pacific Airmotive Tradewind with turbine engines. Not many ways other than cosmetic, yes- but it counts!
Propair, operator of the 1972 Beech King Air A100 I would fly on (C-FWRM), is based in Rouyn-Naranda. They fly medevacs, mining charters, and any sort of charter aviation task one would need in rural northern Quebec, up to and including Nunavik. They also operate a Gulfstream I, which we were supposed to fly on, but it went tech a little over a week before our flying day, and was be replaced with an aircraft to be discussed in part three.