Ian Twombly

Letter to the editor

February 10, 2009 by Ian J. Twombly, Associate Editor

One of the great joys about being a published writer is the constant feedback you receive, be it good, bad, or ugly. Readers are never shy about offering an opinion, and writing for a pilot audience means getting that opinion served up without extra toppings. In other words, pilots are brutally honest. The thing that continues to baffle me about reader feedback, however, is the seeming random nature of which stories generate it.

In the February issue of AOPA Pilot I wrote a story about the Beechcraft Baron. It’s produced more comments than anything I’ve written about in the past few months, and each follows one of three themes: I hate the airplane and/or its workmanship; I hate the cover and its cover lines; or I love the Baron and everything about it. And yes, you guessed it, the third group is in the minority right now.

The airplane haters tell me they feel that way because of the cost. Sometimes they reference that comment with the photos on the cover and page 50 showing the nose gear doors slightly open. For anyone who has flown or owned a Beechcraft product, this is probably no surprise. But for those who decry Hawker Beechcraft for its workmanship and service, consider that a company rep discovered the problem and fixed it for no charge before even returning the airplane to its owner following the photoshoot. So much for poor service.

The cover is another issue. Some took exception to the lines, which say, “You’ve finally arrived: When only a Baron will do. ” To put that into context, consider that cover lines exist to either sell a magazine or get you to turn to the story. That’s it. A few writers were indignant about the fact we would say on the cover something so out of touch with America’s economy. Hey, the cover lines are there to “stimulate” your desire for a new airplane so a few more people in Wichita can keep their jobs.

Finally, some comments have been good. And no surprise, they are from people who have flown the airplane or owned it. For the record, the Baron is a great airplane. It’s one of general aviation’s proud symbols. Yes, it costs $1.2 million. If you can’t afford it (and most of us can’t) don’t get mad, enjoy it for what it is.  After all, those who can’t afford to buy a Ferrari don’t get mad at them for making it. The magazine is supposed to inform and entertain, not be a social commentary about the state of the U.S. economy. So for those who say a $1.2 million airplane is extravagant, consider that many of your friends and coworkers likely find your 172 to be in the same league.

2 Responses to “Letter to the editor”

  1. Rod Paul Says:

    Enjoyed the Baron article. I own a Baron (25 yr. model) so count me in the last group, who enjoyed the article. Besides the fact that the article was about my brand of airplane, the gist of it was that the Baron is an aircraft in which many of the characteristics people like in a plane have all come together. I don’t don’t anyone who has flown a Baron, as an instructor, charter pilot, or owner, who does anything other than rave about it — and that is worth an a article.

    I am certainly not in the market for a $1.2M airplane, or a Ferrari, for that matter, but I do appreciate machines that are beautifully designed and manufactured, and would much rather read about them than $130,000 LSA’s. Keep up the good work, and keep your enthusiasm for the things GA is doing right, like continuing to build the Baron for these many decades.

  2. Conrad Binyon Says:

    My thoughts have led me to wonder why Chinese industry hasn’t invaded U.S. shores with a
    manufactured light plane in a similar vein as Wag-Aero’s Sportplane series?

    Regards,

    Conrad Binyon

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