Used Aircraft Guide
May 2009 Issue
Used Aircraft Guide: The Beech Sierra
Rugged, roomy and flexible in loading with typical Beech quality, it’s just not the fastest in its class.
The normally aspirated 200-HP piston single is a popular niche, filled with a variety of aircraft types. Each, however, comes in the same basic configuration of four seats, a constant-speed prop and—except for the Cirrus SR20 and the much older Beech Musketeer Super III—retractable landing gear. For example, this is where the Mooney 201 resides, alongside most Piper Arrows and Cessna’s Cardinal RG, all of which were developed from earlier models with less horsepower and, except for the Mooney, originally equipped with fixed gear. Beech’s entry into this market—like its competitors’ offerings—was also a growth model, from the Model 23 Musketeer, in this case. Never a speed demon, the Musketeer and other models using the same basic airframe—and most any product from Beech, for that matter—are well-known for quality components and construction as well as comfort. The end result, the Model 24R Sierra, isn’t the sleekest of the 200-HP crowd, and it certainly isn’t the fastest. It might be the most comfortable, however, and perhaps the most reliable. Beech’s Musketeer was the company’s answer to the Cherokees and Skyhawks of the world. The first of that line, the Model 23, hit the market in 1963. Three years later, the Model A23-24 Super III debuted. With 200 HP and fixed gear, it wasn’t nearly as fast as the same-power Mooneys of its day (the Arrow and Cardinal RG hadn’t hit the market yet). In 1970, Beech made the decision to fold the A23-24’s landing gear, dubbing the result the Model A24R Super R. The Sierra name came with the B24R in 1973. Also, Beech one-upped Cessna, Mooney and Piper by making the A23-24 and the 24R models nominal six-seaters, if so ordered from Beech; they cannot practically be retrofitted with the aft seat, due to structural differences.
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