Iconic aircraft company Hawker Beechcraft celebrated its 80th anniversary this month.

Since the inception of Beechcraft in 1932, the company has produced some classic aircraft that today remain among the leaders in their markets, most notably the Bonanza, Baron, Hawker 125 and King Air.

Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Beechcraft made its name producing robust, high-performing aeroplanes that were targeted at the high-end of the market.

CEO Steve Miller was effusive when reflecting on the last 80 years of operation.

“As we recognize this special anniversary and celebrate our proud past, we look forward to more milestones to come as we carry on Hawker Beechcraft’s legacy of innovation in the aviation industry,” he said.

Chairman Bill Boisture added: “Hawker Beechcraft changed the course of general aviation. Its proud history has included the delivery of more than 54,000 aircraft to customers around the world, and its heritage of leading edge technology and performance will continue to be an integral part of its future.”

Beechcraft was founded in 1932 when Curtiss-Wright executive Walter Beech left to start designing and building his own aircraft in partnership with his wife, Olive Ann Beech.

In the midst of the Great Depression it was a risky move to market luxurious private aircraft, and many commentators warned of dire results. Regardless, the couple forged ahead and built a company that has outlasted most of its contemporaries of the day.

Although Hawker Beechcraft counts the years beginning with the Beech initiative, the Hawker side of the business is only eight years short of being 100.

In 1920, Australian test pilot and designer Harry Hawker and three others bought the assets of Sopwith Aviation and formed HG Hawker Engineering.

Hawker died in a crash in 1921, and never saw his company go onto to produce some classics of the air, including the legendary Harrier, Hurricane and Sea Fury.

The anniversary coincides with 50 years since the introduction of the Hawker 125 Business Jet. Beginning its life on 13 August 1962 as the Hawker Siddeley DH125 Jet Dragon, the first deliveries occurred in 1964, and the product line continues today in the form of the Hawker 900XP.

“The Hawker 125 series is one of the most iconic business aircraft in the industry and we are proud to be celebrating such a momentous milestone in the program’s history,” said Ron Gunnarson, VP Hawker Marketing.

“Its unique design allows for travelers to fly with absolute freedom, negating the need presented by some aircraft to sacrifice fuel, number of passengers or baggage when embarking on a flight.

"This, coupled with the 125 series’ renowned range, speed and comfort, makes it easy to see why the series has enjoyed so much success for five decades.”

Nearly 1700 Hawker 125s have been produced in the last 50 years.

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