Three people have asked me the same thing, nice articles but how do the two airplanes feel? This is a follow-up to the differences in the 200Hp Mouse and Sierra article of yesterday.I had a 1966 A23-24 Musketeer and now have a 1975 B24R Sierra. The feel question is a really hard one to answer for me. I guess the best way to describe it is that the Mouse felt like a pickup truck and the Sierra feels like my wife’s Volvo XC90.
Here is what I mean. The Mouse had a small baggage door, a bench back seat, vernier controls, 1 door, basic panel. I split the cowling with the split cowl kit, which I highly recommend doing if you have not already done so to your mouse. It has the large useful load, but it was a little, well, contradictory of a design. You have this huge useful load and a teeny tiny baggage door. This was a pain in the butt when loading golf clubs for example. The cowling was also a pain in the butt to take off and put back on, much better once it was split, but still really not all that intuitive. Again, the best way to describe it was it feels like a pickup truck.
The Sierra on the other hand is a different story. It has the large baggage door, yet the useful load is smaller (you really can’t win :-)). The throttle quadrant controls are much nicer in my opinion than the vernier style (I never liked the Vernier ones). The back seats are buckets that can be removed in seconds, literally. Beech did a great quick release mechanism on these, and then the floor is all the same height and carpeted so you can carry cargo easily, plus use the belts to cinch it down. The large baggage door allows you to get it in and out quickly as well. The cowling on the Sierra can be removed and reinstalled in minutes, which is a real plus. All in all, it is just the product of another 9 years of engineering. A number of little things that make it feel more like a luxury vehicle.
Both machines have the Beechcraft quality when it comes to the flight characteristics of the respective airplanes. Once they are in the air, they really do feel quite similar. They are very stable, well built, solid airplanes that we have all grown to love.