One of the latest additions to the Flying Bulls fleet in Salzburg is a US trainer produced by Beechcraft. The Mentor is a close relation to the Beech Bonanza, Beechcraft’s civilian bestseller. The Bonanza is the longest manufactured aircraft of all time.
The serial production of the new low-cost trainer for the USAF began in 1953. When production of the 225hp monoplane was discontinued in 1956, 353 A-series aircraft had been built. The production of the B-series for the US Navy started soon thereafter. Overall, the Mentor was a great success and was manufactured until the 1970s (even with a turbine engine) and exported to no less than 20 countries. Over the years, the trainer has undergone many modifications to ensure that the aircraft remains in touch with the latest technology and this highlights the underlying, solid workmanship. The trainer’s aerobatic airframe is approved for loads ranging from -3G to +6G. After retiring from military service, the Mentor enjoyed great popularity among private pilots due to it being relatively easy to fly and fully aerobatic. The tandem design boasts two identical cockpits with dual controls and - in contrast to other aircraft of military origin - is both easy to maintain and affordable.
When the Flying Bulls purchase used airplanes, it is commonplace for them to undergo a complete restoration in order to meet the high quality standards of the fleet. When asked about the condition of the aircraft, the vendor merely answered that the lively trainer had been cleaned comprehensively. In fact, the Mentor had been professionally restored with great attention to detail after the USAF had taken it out of service. In the end, the Flying Bulls merely had to equip the aircraft with a new engine and propeller. The newly installed Continental IO-550G engine delivers approx. 280hp. The additional 55hp (compared to the original engine) not only ensures safe operation, but also means more fun! The trainer with the serial number G757 entered into service in 1955 at the Bartow Air Base in Florida. From 1958 onwards, the Mentor was stationed at the Steward Airbase in New York. It passed into civilian hands in 1982, changing owners no less than six times before finally finding a new home at the Flying Bulls in Hangar 7. The Mentor is highly popular among our pilots and is ideal for training formation flying, as well as for visiting smaller air shows and events in Austria and neighbouring countries.