Beechcraft C23 Sundowner - Here's What Every Pilot Should Know
About This Aircraft
Much like Cessna, Beechcraft has been around since the post WWII general aviation rush when military trained pilots drove the general aviation industry to great success. The Beechcraft design is known for being groundbreaking, pushing the envelope of design, reliable and driven by performance.
While others were relying on tested technology to improve their general aviation aircraft performance, Beechcraft was designing new ways to design landing gear, wing tail design and avionics to push the limits of single engine performance.
IMPORTANT: The C23 Sundowner has its roots in the Beechcraft Model 23, also known as the Musketeer design. The Musketeer was designed to have larger cabins, heavy airframes, sturdy flight experience and high speeds. The C23 was originally called the Musketeer “Custom”, but quickly earned the Sundowner title as an aerobatic-capable general aviation aircraft.
Some Surprising Things That You'll Love About The Beechcraft Sundowner
The C23 is not an expensive aircraft to buy, own and operate. A well maintained model will cost around $45,000 and upgrading the systems within this aircraft is less expensive than upgrading a Bonanza or older Musketeer.
Produced between 1972 and 1983, the C23 Sundowner came with several standard features:
• Lycoming O-360 with 180 horsepower
• Beechcraft vertical pattern avionics (non-color coded gauges)
• Large windows and high seating positions with large dual-cabin doors
• Cruise speed up to 10 knots
• Solid elevator control and bungee-equipped ailerons
• Fixed landing gear with characteristic Beechcraft landing gear
Do You Know The Answer To This Question?
The C23 Sundowners was originally produced to increase Beechcraft sales by attracting pilots who wanted a sportier single engine aircraft. Equipped with four seats and a moderate payload capacity, the Sundowner does not have a far-reaching range. In only goes about 550 miles with a full payload. Still, this moderately speedy aircraft is super fun to fly and operate.
And that brings up a very important question! What is your first goal for the Sundowner? If it is to go really fast, then you should look at a Mooney or something that is built for speed. This aircraft goes pretty quick, but it was not designed to be the fastest aircraft in the sky.
So make sure you really think through that question and figure out what is the absolute #1 priority you want from the aircraft that you are looking at buying. By asking yourself that question, your going to be able to narrow down your search a lot and figure out the best aircraft for your flying needs.
With a few modifications and careful maintenance, the C23 Sundowner is a great starter aerobatic single engine aircraft. The Sundowner delivers very crisp turns and sharp responsive controls that allow you to drive this aircraft to the edge of its performance.
It also has a nice heavy airframe that handles very well in turbulent weather. Be aware though, this sort of flying is recommended only for experienced pilots and those with experienced trainers.
Even if you don't plan on doing steep turns and flying this aircraft to it's limits, it's good to know that it was designed to handle turbulent weather better then most other aircraft of it's era. Just make sure you know what you are doing before you try any crazy aerobatic techniques. It's a good airplane, but not a fighter jet!
Here's What You Should Be Looking For In A Sundowner
When buying a Beechcraft, you need to be aware that sometimes parts can be scarce for this older aircraft. It can be challenging to find what you need. Luckily there is a niche market out there in the general aviation industry that allows many owners to find what they need.
The Sundowner is a perfect starter plane for those that want to break into the Beechcraft brand. With a little training, it’s easy to get used to the Beechcraft “feel” and once you’re in the cockpit, you’re almost sure to love it.
SIDENOTE: An attractive feature of the Beechcraft design is the ease of maintenance and the less expensive cost of repair when compared to comparable brands. This is perfect for new pilots who have a limited long-term budget and want the simplest (but fun) single engine aircraft they can afford. The Sundowner is also perfect for the pilot who wants to branch out into beginning acrobatic flight with single engine aircraft.
And the Sundowner is a great entry level aircraft into the Beehcraft family. It's your first step into a family of great aircraft. Once you get really good at flying the Sundowner, you never know... You might be in a position to move up to one of the bigger Beechcraft airplanes! The great thing is - you have a lot of options with this classic brand of aircraft.
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