WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The prototype of a revolutionary Beech Aircraft Corp. plane has met a controversial death in the California desert where it emerged.

Ignoring the pleas of at least one aviation museum and the airplane's designer, Beech has destroyed the original, experimental version of its Starship business aircraft.

Because of its graphite and epoxy all-composite construction and its futuristic design, the Starship has attracted much attention since the original model was unveiled in 1983.

Some observers said Beech's action reflected the acrimony that exists between top Beech officials and innovative aircraft designer Burt Rutan, who had a major role in the design of the Starship and whose company built the experimental model.

A demolition crew hired by Wichita-based Beech broke up the 85-percent scale ''proof-of-concept'' model of the Starship last week. It was being stored in hangar at the Mojave, Calif., airport where it was built and first flown in 1983.

A Beech official said Tuesday dismemberment was the usual fate for experimental models.

''We were done with it. It had served its purpose,'' said spokesman Mike Potts.

The Experimental Aviation Association, which maintains an air museum in Oshkosh, Wis., had asked Beech to turn the aircraft over to the museum. The company refused.

''We did not believe the airplane was representative of what we ultimately built and certified,'' Potts said, citing many changes in design and construction that were made in the Starship before commercial production began. Potts also said the plane was not in display condition.

But EAA President Tom Poberezny said the original Starship model had historic significance, whatever its condition.

In addition to having a major role in the original design, Rutan's company, Scaled Composites, built the experimental model.

Rutan said the subject of what to do with the experimental model came up a year ago, when Beech officials indicated they wanted to destroy it.

''We got back to them and told them there was nobody here that would take a hammer to it,'' Rutan said.

When he heard the plane was going to be demolished, Rutan said he talked to Beech President Max Bleck ''who told me it was none of my business.''

Last fall, Bleck told one industry trade publication that key design and construction problems Beech encountered in developing the Starship for commercial sale were caused largely by inaccurate data gleaned from Rutan's experimental model.

Rutan is widely known for his innovative aircraft designs, including the Voyager aircraft that flew around the world non-stop without refueling in 1986 and a new all-composite, low cost military aircraft designed to provide close air support to ground troops. The latter plane was unveiled Monday.

At one point, Rutan was an employee of Beech, which bought Scaled Composites in 1985 and launched several other experimental aircraft development programs. Then in 1988, the year after Bleck became president of Beech, the company was sold back to Rutan.

Wayman-Gordon, a firm headed by former Beech president James Walsh, now owns Scaled Composites, where Rutan continues work on experimental aircraft.