The Beechcraft Bonanza is an American general aviation aircraft introduced in 1947 by The Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. As of 2010[update] it is still being produced by Hawker Beechcraft and has been in continuous production longer than any other airplane in history. More than 17,000 Bonanzas of all variants have been built.
At the end of World War II two all-metal aircraft emerged, the Model 35 Bonanza and the Cessna 195, that represented very different approaches to the premium-end of the postwar civil aviation market. With its high wing, seven-cylinder radial engine, fixed tailwheel undercarriage and roll-down side windows, the Cessna 195 was little more than a continuation of prewar technology; the 35 Bonanza, however, was more like the fighters developed during the war, featuring an easier-to-manage horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine, a rakishly streamlined shape, retractable nosewheel undercarriage (although the nosewheel initially was non-steerable, or castering) and low-wing configuration.
Designed by a team led by Ralph Harmon, the model 35 Bonanza was a relatively fast, low-wing monoplane at a time when most light aircraft were still made of wood and fabric. The Model 35 featured retractable landing gear and its signature V-tail (equipped with a combination elevator-rudder called a ruddervator), which made it both efficient and the most distinctive private aircraft in the sky. The prototype 35 Bonanza made its first flight on 22 December 1945, with the first production aircraft debuting as 1947 models. The first 30-40 Bonanzas produced had fabric-covered flaps and ailerons, after which, those surfaces were covered with magnesium alloy sheet.