Wichita, Kan --- Beechcraft celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first King Air flight with a celebratory flyover.
Hundreds of Beechcrafters leave their work stations to see three members of the King Air family take flight over Beech's East Wichita facility.
Beechcrafter Patti McCurley says, "It's a proud moment. You know the King Air is a wonderful, wonderful airplane. So we're proud to be witnessing this."
Since that first flight in 1964 the King Air has become the most widely flown business turboprop plane. Beech has sold and delivered 7,200 King Airs. They've accumulated more than 60-million flight hours.
It is the company's biggest money making product line.
Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture says as Beechcraft emerged from bankruptcy the new company was reorganized around the King Air product line.
Boisture says, "The King Air product family was the cornerstone of the commercial product line around which we organized the company."
Who knows how many more years, maybe decades the King Airs will be produced? Boisture says, "We can keep making them a long time. We're continually modernizing the product line."
Textron is in the process of closing on its bid to buy Beechcraft. Regarding that Boisture says, "The King Air is a key part of the value that Textron saw in Beechcraft."
Boisture pointed out to reporters why Textron's purchase of Beech will be good for Wichita. "It's the first time really in over a decade that this company has had the support of a strong parent,Textron, that understands business aviation business by their prior involvement through Cessna, has the capital for the cyclical nature of the airplane industry, has the complimentary defense businesses. I think it gives Beechcraft a good, long term home."
Boisture acknowledged that changes will likely come when Textron takes over.
He says, "There'll be changes. Scott Donnelly, (Textron CEO), was clear when he was interviewed about this that we will be looking at facilities. We'll be looking at the work force and how best to deploy the assets that Textron now owns and undoubtedly there will be some changes there."
But Textron might not want to change much of what's been such a winning program for Beechcraft for 50 years, namely the King Air line, other than keep building on that success.