Beech Starship


Yesterday, while walking my dog I looked up to see what I believe was a Beech Starship screaming by at about 2000’ altitude. I am east of Tampa and it was heading due south.

I did not realize that there are almost none of these planes left flying. Did I see a Starship or is there something out there that is more common that has that unique Starship configuration? It sure livened up the old dog walk!


Of the four remaining Starships in service none appear to be operating in the Florida area. One is blocked however, so it is possible! I’ve only seen one parked on the ramp.

Still in service are:

N45FL (Blocked)


It was probably just CFIJames in his Piaggio Avanti.


I think you nailed it! Several P-180 flights in the Tampa/St. Pete area recently including


James was at ALB yesterday, but Avantair aircraft are based at PIE so the FL skies are full of them.

From a distance the Catfish and the Starship appear very similar.


Almost certainly a P180. Mostly because of the OP’s location… St Pete is our headquarters so there are always planes going in and out of there. (besides the fact that all of florida is a general aviation hotspot).

From afar, the planes may appear similar, but it should be noted that the Avanti has a normal looking tail; the Starship doesnt really have a tail at all. The rudders are at the end of the wings, they look like huge winglets. All elevator control is on the forward canard, contrary to the piaggio which has a conventional stabilizer/elevator/rudder.
Also, the main wing on the Piaggio is straight, the Starship has quite a bit of sweep and taper, it looks more like a gulfstream wing. Less noticable from afar, the forward wing on the Piaggio is nearly straight across, and angles down slightly, the starship’s canard is swept.
I always thought the starship was much bigger than the piaggio, it looks bigger in pictures, but it’s actually almost the same size. The starship though only holds 6 pax, the piaggio max of 9 (tightly, no doubt). For all of it’s composite, it’s quite unfortunate (one of the primary reasons for it’s demise) that the starship’s empty weight is a hefty 10,000+ lbs. compared to the mostly-aluminum P180’s 7500 lb empty weight.

Beech Starship (notice no tail):

Piaggio Avanti (notice the tail):


Excellent work gentlemen! It was definately a P180, as I remember the straight wing. I didn’t realize the difference until this discussion. I figured I had more of a chance to see a flying saucer than a Starship.


I think they might sound alike or at least they share a very loud and unusual sound.


Actually, there is another Starship that could be in active service, and yet another that is flying under the Mexican registry.

N8149S, NC-35 is for sale and is a candidate for a ground up restoration. She has been on the lam in Tampico, MX since 2001. Raytheon sold her to an insurance company after they were unsuccessful at recovering her. So, she still has a valid data plate, and once restored could fly under the N registry.

There is another Starship that is flying under the Mexican registry.

I recently spoke with a guy in Canada who is restoring several – they will have to be registered outside of the US, and will not be allowed to fly in the US per the deal he struck with Raytheon (liability).

Warm Regards,



This is one of the saddest pictures I’ve seen recently.
They aren’t even used for scrap, to have their recycled materials live on to fly again. The composites are just melted down in a furnace…sad.
Who wants to break into the scrap yards out in Arizona and fly one out of there? I’ll fly it if someone takes the blame for me!


You should see the pics that were taken a couple of months ago of the one that was stolen then abandoned in Tampico, MX…it was a perfectly good Starship, and now, in its present form is salvage grade. If one wanted to spend $1.3 to 1.5MM plus acquisition costs, she could see the skies again. In her current state it is really sad.


I’m not familiar with this story? Do you have pictures or more info?

I used to stay in a hotel (well ok it was a Fairfield Inn) across the street from the completion center for the Starship. It was fun to see them in various stages of finish and flying. I’ve never really understood the whole debacle.


The Fairfield Inn is still there, and there are many more hotels around it too – now lots of people can watch Beech Field.

If you want the full story of the Starship, try reading about it on Bob Scherer’s site at and you can learn a lot there. Also, check out Youtube…there is a video of a History Channel show that recently aired, and the Starship was a focus for one of its vignettes. You can find it at:

As for the pics of NC-35, I have a few that I can post, but forgive my ignorance, but how do I post from my computer as opposed to a website? All of these pics are stored on my hardrive and not on a website.

The story on NC-35 is probably the most interesting of the lot of them. NC-35 is the Starship that is part of the only accident of record for the fleet. A pilot in Denmark tried taking off in an ice storm, and needless to say, the Starship didn’t fly too well at 50’ AGL, and came back down to Mother Earth. The bird was repaired and back flying in roughly 6 months.

NC-35 was then misappropriated several years later. In September 2001, right before Sept. 11, the aircraft was flown to Tampico, MX. Customs asked for documentation, and the pilot failed to produce any, and in fact never came back. The Tampico Customs Authority seized the aircraft, and then it transfered to the Mexican Tax Authority. Raytheon tried to get the aircraft back since they were the financier of the plane, but to no avail. Raytheon then turned in a loss to their insurance company, and was subsequently paid. The insurance company has owned the plane since, and has tried in vain to sell it. The problem is that they haven’t done anything to protect the asset. It has sat outside for the last 6 years with no protection for the engines, frame, windows, and avionics (in fact, someone has ransacked 10 of the 16 tubes in the panel). Mexican authorities last month tried to sell the plane at a Government Seized Assets auction, but they do not have clear title to the aircraft.

It will be interesting to see how it all ends up. The insurance company was asking for $500,000, and the Mexican authorities want $140,000. The pilot who stole it wants $50,000 for return of the logbooks and certificates.
After talking with someone who could restore this aircraft, it would take between $1.3 and 1.5MM and take about a year and a half to do.


Sign up for free at a photo-hosting website like, or something similar. You can then upload your pictures there and link to them.


I just signed up and loaded – don’t know how to list just an album link in here, so I will just post individual pics. Sorry for the amount of space I take up in here…

The props apparently were never secured, and thus have been allowed to turn in the wind all of these years; the engines and props will have to be torn down completely and overhauled. The paint is oxidizing rapidly. The lower belly vents are closed and more than likely there is corrosion in the enviornmental lines that is now spilling over to other parts/components in the interior. 10 of the 16 tubes on the panel are missing. The wire mesh that is installed around the wing for lightning protection is corroding, and will need to be repaired (forget the fact that there is no known repair for that). Tires are flat and dry rotted. Windows are cooked and starting to delaminate.

This is gonna be a worker project for someone.


Sad to see that beautiful airplane wasting away, but thanks for sharing the pictures.


How do the owners of the few flying airframes get parts? I would imagine most of the consumables and needed parts are common to other aircraft.


The good news about the 12% remaining airworthy is that parts are still rather plentiful because the other 88% of the fleet got scrapped. Bob Scherer bought most of the parts he could from Raytheon and RAPID. Additionally, most owners purchased another Starship (or more than 1) as a parts mule. The bad news is for the parts that are not made anymore, one gets to fabricate parts to OEM spec.


No AD’s!!!


very true, but I don’t think an AD has been issued in a long time on the Starship – I would need to check the FAA library on that. Regardless, there are some good benefits to having an aircraft registered outside of the US.