The name Beechcraft is often followed by the well-known title “Bonanza.” However, while the Bonanza was the aircraft that brought their name to popularity, Beechcraft decided to try and create an aircraft just as awe-inspiring and brought to life the Musketeer.
Aircraft trainers are a huge market that Cessna and Piper dominate. With their numerous models of aircraft that are easy to learn to fly and cheap to operate, it is no wonder that they are the most common manufacturers seen on a ramp.
In an attempt to compete with Cessna and Piper, Beechcraft decided to create their own affordable trainer. The Beechcraft model Musketeer was then born in 1963, with over 4000 aircrafts produced.
Still to this day, they are being flown and can be easily recognized on the tarmac. However, not many people realize what they are looking at, as the Musketeer does not compare in numbers to its Cessna and Piper counterparts.
Although the last Musketeer was produced in 1983, many of the models are still flying today and are an affordable alternative to a C172 or Piper Cherokee, especially in terms of comfort and performance.
1963/ Beechcraft Musketeer A23 / Model Specs
The Beechcraft Musketeer is a trainer aircraft well known for its spacious compartment and powerful structural design.
Standing outside the aircraft, you’ll notice its impressive height is just over 8 feet and has a wingspan of 32 feet 9 inches and a length of 25 feet 8 inches. This boxy look makes it easy to recognize, but sometimes it’s difficult to find appropriate hangar space.
Similar to a Cessna 172, the A23 has a total occupancy of 4, with the two front seats designated to dual flight controls allowing for easy instruction. Because of the wide interior, it is known to be very comfortable while seating four, while a C172 might start to feel a little cramped with all its seats occupied.
The Model A23 has a maximum takeoff weight of 2400lbs, although many owners would argue to avoid reaching that limit. Because of its sturdy design, the Musketeer is already heavy on its own, and any extra weight greatly impacts its performance.
The Musketeer is equipped with a single engine and has a low wing design. The Continental IO-346A is a well-performing engine that provides 165 horsepower, but unfortunately, since it is no longer being produced, it is referred to as an orphaned engine.
This fuel-injected engine gives the much-needed power to the Muksteer, but the lack of parts makes fixing it a time-consuming process and leaves the engine undesired by most non Beechcraft owners.
The A23 carries a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller. This is ideal for the piston engine and allows it to have the best performance it can muster.
Musketeer A23/ Model Prices
Beechcraft’s name was associated with more of a luxury-styled plane and a heavier price point. Unlike the Cessna and Pipers, Beechcraft focused on providing quality aircraft with the best features and workmanship, resulting in their aircraft being on the pricier side.
The Musketeer was an attempt to appeal to the general population and to be an affordable aircraft that could be used for training or by the typical household family. This aircraft was also designed to compete with the other cheaper trainers on the market and was therefore priced to be more accessible to the average pilot.
Currently, the Musketeer can only be found used as their production ceased in the 80s. Prices can range from 35,000$ USD to 70,000$ USD, depending on the time on the airframe and engine, as well as the year it was made, its upgrades, avionics, and whether it was stored outside or in a hangar.
The initial price of the Musketeer was 13,300$ USD and came with the Lycoming O-320 engine with 160 horsepower, which was replaced the following year with the Continental IO-360.
Over time the price of the Musketeer has gone up, even with inflation. A well-maintained Musketeer will keep its worth and can even grow in value if well-taken care of.
Musketeer A23/ Performance and Handling
Because of its heavy frame and spacious interior, the Musketeer doesn’t excel in terms of performance. The weight became so much of an issue that the Musketeer 19 Sport model was released with an AD already issued by the FAA to limit its maximum takeoff weight to 2000lbs.
The 2000lbs limit was chosen due to the lack of climb performance that did not meet the FAA standards when the aircraft was at its maximum gross weight of 2250 lbs.
Later on, Beechcraft released a kit that created some improvements and raised the weight to 2150 lbs, but that small amount of improvement does not change the fact that the Musketeer is not designed for carrying much weight.
The most common observation by the Musketeer community is the speed of the aircraft. Cruising at 102 knots with a maximum speed of 127 knots, the aircraft is by no means fast. Of course, most owners are unbothered by this and claim that the slower speed just means more time in the air.
The Musketeer can fly a decent distance and has a range of 676 nautical miles. Although it might not be the fastest, being able to carry a significant amount of fuel and the efficiency of the fuel-injected engine allows it to travel a far distance.
The A23 has a service ceiling of 13,000 feet and can climb to that altitude in a reasonable amount of time. However, because it is so high, oxygen will be required. Flying at a higher altitude has a few benefits, such as less fuel burn and a faster speed with the help of a tailwind.
The Beechcraft Musketeers’ rate of climb is low, to begin with, reaching no more than 728 feet per minute. On most days, a rate of 500 feet per minute is more likely, especially in hot weather. This disadvantage makes it difficult to take off of short runways and can increase the fuel burn on a summer day.
Beechcraft / Musketeer Maintenance Schedule
Maintenance on the Musketeer is similar to most 4 seat general aviation aircraft. Unless employed by a school or another commercial aviation company, the Musketeer will only need its annual inspection to be completed along with its other usual maintenance upkeep.
The A23 is not an expensive machine to maintain, and parts are usually easy to come by. Beechcraft also has its reputation for creating reliable aircraft, and the Musketeer is no exception. It is a sturdy plane that rarely needs any emergency upkeep.
One common issue to keep in mind is the landing gear. Because the Musketeer is equipped with “doughnuts,” a landing gear system suited with discs that absorb impact, it is easy to miss any possible wear and tear on the landing gear.
These discs must be inspected regularly for any cracks or continuous wear and can be expensive to replace, but it is imperative to keep them in good shape to have reliable landing gear.
This landing gear design also makes the Musketeers’ landings unforgiving. The result is landings with lots of bouncing and hops, sometimes even wheelbarrowing. Regularly checking the firewall for any bending or warping is good practice to prevent anything from breaking or collapsing due to rough landings.
Fuel caps should also be inspected regularly to ensure there is no corrosion or debris inhibiting the cap from sitting properly in its place. A cap that isn’t fitted properly will allow water to enter the fuel tank, which can result in engine failure.
Of course, when purchasing an aircraft, be sure to have a solid pre-buy inspection done on the aircraft by a mechanic who has experience on the specific model before completing the offer. All of these maintenance woes will be checked by a professional and prevent the purchase of an aircraft that may already have a costly issue.
Beechcraft Musketeer/ Modifications and Upgrades
The Musketeer has a number of variants in an attempt by Beechcraft to improve the design to increase performance and provide a better trainer that can rival Cessna and Piper.
Beechcraft made its first change to the Musketeer model by switching out the Lycoming O-320 and replacing it with the Continental IO-360. This added an additional 5 horsepower to the aircraft and increased the weight by 50lbs. The upgrade was a failure, and starting from the B23 Musketeer Custom; the engine was replaced with a Lycoming O-30-A4J engine.
The Beechcraft Musketeer Sport was introduced in 1965 and was a slightly smaller version of the A23. The A23-19 Sport model could have two or four seats installed and had a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320 engine. This reduced the weight the aircraft could carry and its price, making it more accessible to the working class.
In 1970 Beechcraft decided to expand the model by giving it 6 seats, and the A24 was born. Now with a Lycoming IO-360 engine giving it 200 horsepower, it was able to maintain a weight of 2550lbs.
Many upgraded models came in the years between 1962 and 1976, all with different engine modifications to allow more weight and better performance. Kits can also be purchased by individual owners and added to the aircraft in an attempt to improve performance.
Full list of Beechcraft Musketeer Models:
- Beechcraft Musketeer Custom B23
- Beechcraft Musketeer Custom C23 Sundowner
- Beechcraft Musketeer Super III/369 Musketeer Super IIIs
- Beechcraft Musketeer Model 24 Sierra
- Beechcraft CT 134 Musketeer – Candian Forces B23, eventually replaced with C23 Sundowners
Because Beechcraft is now under the belt of Textron Aviation, the company is aware of how much maintenance is required when it comes to putting out mandatory service bulletins. As a result, Beechcraft tries to make sure all bulletins can be easily complied with by the owners.
Beechcraft Musketeer/ Where to Find Replacement Parts
Luckily most Beechcraft parts are still available today if you are able to look in the right place. Whether it be used or new, most parts are widely available online or in catalogs.
Your AME will most likely have the smallest parts that will need to be replaced on a semi-regular basis already in stock. For larger pieces, checking online forums and Musketeer clubs would be best to track down used parts.
New parts can be purchased by the owners themselves online on Aircraft Spruce or Univair. Most parts are still widely available, but if not, then checking out Barnstormers might be best for finding used pieces.
Beechcraft Musketeer/ Model Common Problems
While the A23 is considered a well-rounded model produced by Beechcraft, the odd model has the famous IO-346 engine. Equipped between 1964 and 1967 in the A23s and Sundowners, this orphaned engine results in many Beechcraft owners staying away from the Musketeers.
The Continental IO-346 engine has 165 horsepower and was designed exclusively for the Musketeer. Being a fuel-injected, four-cylinder engine, many observe that it is a traditional IO-520 that has been sliced into four cylinders.
This engine was designed only for the Musketeer, and as a result, only 513 models were built. The result is a lack of parts available for the few that remain and even fewer mechanics who have experience working on them.
Both parts for the engine and maintenance are expensive, as you’re not only paying for a rare piece but for the mechanics extra time spent in figuring out the work that needs to be done.
Many owners argue that the engine is a strong performer and worth the investment. However, should the day arrive when a part needs to be replaced and can not be found, it will cost a fortune to replace the engine in its entirety.
Beechcraft Musketeer / Insurance Options
Insurance is dependent on whether or not the aircraft is used commercially. Generally speaking, a school will have a different insurance rate as opposed to a private owner.
A private owner has the option between only liability coverage or liability and hull coverage. Liability provides coverage for the pilot, passengers, and environment, while hull coverage provides insurance for the aircraft.
According to bwifly.com, there are nine service carriers that provide coverage on the Beechcraft Musketeer in the United States. Rates depend on the license holder’s qualifications, and a qualified pilot is considered to be someone with at least 300 hours and at least 25 hours on the make and model that is to be insured.
Qualified pilots can expect an annual premium with 1,000,000$ liability coverage to ranging from 300-500$. Pilots who do not have the minimum requirements can expect a cost of 480-630$ per year.
For an additional 30,000$ in hull coverage, the annual premium is increased. For qualified pilots, a cost of 600-895$ per year can be expected. Meanwhile, less experienced pilots can expect to pay 913-1260$ per year.
Beechcraft Musketeer/ Model Resale Value
Although the Musketeer is no longer in production, it is still a well-regarded aircraft that all its owners love. Easy maintenance, parts, and the overall comfort in owning a Beechcraft make it a popular model.
Ranging from 13,500$ USD to 26,000$ USD depending on the year and specifications of the model, the Musketeer was on the cheap side when first built to appeal to the population and to compete with the affordable trainers by Cessna and Piper.
With proper maintenance and care, a Musketeer can now sell for between 35,000$ and 70,000$ USD. This covers inflation and can sometimes even generate a profit, as buying a used aircraft in good condition can often be more cost-efficient than buying a brand new Cessna 172.
The prices during Covid-19 have drastically increased in the aviation community. As many have more time to fly on their hands, aircraft are being purchased for the above-asking price. As a result, aircraft that were held up in old barns and garages are now finally seeing the light and are generating a profit for their owners.
Beechcraft Musketeer/ Owner Reviews
Like most pilots, owners are proud of their birds. The Musketeer is no different, and while it may not be as popular as a Cessna or Piper, it certainly stands out on the ramp.
The Musketeer is affectionately nicknamed the “mouse” due to its boxy look and size. Many owners enjoy this nickname as it demonstrates that although the aircraft appears small, it has a spacious interior.
Like the Piper Cherokee, the Musketeer has a low wing. However, unlike the Cherokee, the Musketeer has a door on each side of the aircraft. Many owners appreciate this luxury and say that once two doors have been experienced, you won’t be able to go back.
Owners often claim that they are satisfied with the speed of the aircraft, even though it is considered to be on the slower side. They say that it allows for more time in the air.
While the Musketeer can be a bit more challenging to land thanks to its rubber doughnut landing gear, many pilots are pleased with how stable the aircraft is. Sometimes described as a tank, the Musketeer is known to be sturdy and well-built.
Beechcraft Musketeer/ Similar Aircraft
While the Musketeer is an appealing choice for owning an aircraft, there are other models available that are similar and worthy of comparison.
The most well-known and most common, low wing 4 seat aircraft is the Piper Cherokee. With a single-piston engine and a manageable price, the Cherokee is a very well-received trainer.
The Cessna 172 may have a high wing, but this 4 seat trainer is the most common on the market. Used by flight schools all over the world, it is the one that is most recognized by pilots. Many owners enjoy purchasing a C172 due to their familiarity and previous experience flying them.
The Mooney M20 is another low wing, 4 seat aircraft. However, the Mooney makes up for everything the Musketeer lacks.
However, this is only because the M20 was not designed as a trainer, as a family aircraft. With 4 seats and incredible performance, the M20 has exceptional numbers when it comes to speed and range but comes at a much higher price tag.
Beechcraft Musketeer/ Clubs You can Join
The Beechcraft Aero Club on beechaeroclub.org is an online community filled with resources directed towards Beechcraft general aviation aircraft owners. The website contains multiple forums on different topics that allow Beechcraft owners to communicate with each other and share information on parts, modifications, and maintenance.
There is also a Beechcraft Musketeer Facebook group that includes the Sport, Sierra, and Sundowner models. The group is a free space to join and share information about the Musketeer and a place to ask questions about maintenance issues.
Because of the difficulty in finding parts for the IO-346, being an active member of the Beechcraft community allows you to ask for difficult-to-find parts and their location should you ever need to find a replacement. Check out our full guide on Beechcraft Sierra for more options.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is the Fuel Burn on the Musketeer?
Answer: The A23 tends to average a fuel burn of 11 to 12 gallons an hour. Cruising at a higher altitude allows for less fuel burn due to the air being less dense. Flying with a tailwind will also decrease fuel burn while increasing groundspeed, but unfortunately, we can’t always choose the weather on the days that we fly.
Question: What is the Difference Between a Musketeer and a Musketeer Super III?
Answer: While the Sport was created as the slightly smaller version of the A23, the Super III was designed as an A23 with a bit more power.
Equipped with the Lycoming IO-360, the Super III has 200 horsepower. Unfortunately, it was also priced a little higher than the Musketeer, starting at 16,350$ USD when it was released in 1966.
Question: What is the Landing Speed of the Beechcraft Musketeer?
Answer: The Musketeer lands a bit faster than most Cessna and Piper owners are used to, coming in between 60 and 70 MPH depending on the day. While it may seem to be on the higher side, because the aircraft is so stable, the speed does not have a negative impact on the landing.
Since the landing must be done carefully due to the sensitivity of the landing gear, coming in at a slightly higher approach speed and a faster touchdown speed will sometimes avoid an unwanted bounce.
Question: How Much Does Maintenance Cost?
Answer: The cost of maintenance will vary from year to year, and the condition of the aircraft. Parts that are harder to find will also cost a lot in time in order to locate the piece and install it on the aircraft.
Owners report that a typical annual can range from 1200$USD to 6000$USD, depending on the work that will need to be done.