Beechcraft Starship plane calls Walla Walla home

Nicole Likarish

Walla Walla is the new home of the futuristic Beechcraft Starship. The craft is easily distinguished by its droning hum and its radically futuristic appearance and area residents have responded positively in Union-Bulletin editorials on Starship sightings. Surprised to behold the Spacecraft one morning while he brought in his paper, Steve Singleton wrote of his fascination and pride in a letter to Union-Bulletin calling the Spacecraft “another reason our town is unique.”

Singleton and other aviation enthusiasts have local businessman Eric Rindal to thank for introducing the airplane to Walla Walla’s skies. Rindal brought the Starship to a hanger at the Walla Walla airport in January. Since Rindal’s purchase, Washington’s Starship has remained one of only five of the 1986 originals still flying.

While not destined to enjoy commercial success, the Starship refined aviation technology with its unique composite fuselage, twin pusher-propellers and canard wing design. For many, the aircraft has become a kind of futuristic icon and is well represented by aviation shows, museums and Web sites. Its mythic quality is perhaps best represented by “The Starship Diaries,” Dallas Kachan’s 400-page account of leaving his home in the Silicon Valley behind in favor of a thrilling and solitary exploration of the world in one of the few remaining flyable Spacecrafts. Rindal, a pilot since his teens, sympathizes, telling Union-Bulletin reporter Andy Porter, “I’ve always dreamed of a Spacecraft.”