Beechcraft T-34 Mentor

The T-34 was designed and built by the Beechcraft Corp is response to a Military request for a new primary trainer for both the Navy and Air Force in the years following WWII. Up until then, the military trained their fledgling aviators in very light aircraft such as the J-3 Cub then advancing to much more complex and powerful aircraft. After mastering basic flying skills in the Cub, the student pilots would move up to the more advanced T-6/SNJ. These were very rugged and dependable trainers, but the Military wanted and newer more economical primary trainer which was both easy to fly and easy to maintain. Beechcraft started building their iconic Bonanza in 1947. This was a very successful general aviation design, tailored to the business and pleasure flying operations of small privately owned single engine aircraft. Easy to fly and easy to maintain, and already a proven design, Walter Beech simply modified the Bonanza to make it a tandem seat aircraft with the purpose of having the student pilot in the front seat and the instructor pilot in the back. Several aircraft corporations put in bids for the new trainer, but Beechcraft handily won the completion winning both the Navy and Air Force contracts. The Air Force chose the “A” model and with only a very few differences, the US Navy went with the “B” model. Production began in 1953 and would run through 1959 with 1904 aircraft being built for the US Military.

This particular T-34 is an A model and was built in 1953 rolling off the assembly line as the 76th T-34 built. When the military decided to move to the next generation of primary trainers, the USAF chose the all jet Cessna T-37 and the Navy stayed with an updated version of the T-34 which added a turboprop and became the T-34C model. All T-34 A and B models were handed over to either military flying clubs, the civil air patrol or sold on the civilian market. Today there are approximately 125 airworthy T-34’s flying today making it a fairly rear aircraft to own and operate.

In early 2000, retired USAF General Chuck Boyd expressed an interest in finding a T-34 that he could call his own. He did find a nice A model and proceeded to have it updated and modified to suite his particular mission for the airplane. In 2001 he had the aircraft painted in one of the most unique and beautiful paint schemes ever envisioned for a trusty old military trainer. He owned this gorgeous Aircraft for approximately 11 years until he decided he was ready to release the reins and step away from active flying. I had known about General Boyd and this airplane for about two years before he decided to put it on the market, and with good fortune was able to acquire this special airplane. Unfortunately, General Boyd passed away about a month after I took possession of it. Now my mission for this aircraft is to show it off to as many people as possible and to tell the story of General Chuck Boyd and all the other Vietnam Era POW’s. My goal is to be a worthy caretaker of this incredible airplane until the time comes for me to pass it on to the next lucky individual to carry on the true story of the airplane and incredible former owner, General Charles Graham Boyd, a true American hero.

Provided by: Tim Gaus