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FergWorld: Airplanes : Piper Twin Comanche N8259Y

3/24/17    Home | Articles | Training | Instructor's Corner | Airplanes | Travelogues | PIREPS | For CFIs | ATPs | Pilot for Hire

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Welcome to my page for N8259Y, a 1966 Piper Twin Comanche. This Twin Comanche is a 165 knot twin-engine IFR cross-country machine. Two 160-hp IO-320-B1As swinging Hartzell constant-speed props power the aircraft. It's a smaller, faster twin than most, with a 4/6 seating arrangement (realistically, 4 is the max, with maybe a kid in the back jumpseats squeezed in amongst the luggage.)

New! Thumbs up Here are some documents/spreadsheets created in the process of training for my ATP certificate. For the most part, they are PA-30B specific.

Robert Thomason, owner of the 1995 ICS 'Best Twin Comanche' N701BT, has allowed me to reproduce an article he wrote for the ICS 'Comanche Flyer' magazine. You may find it worthwhile if you're considering a Twin Comanche. Click here to read it.
Thumbs up Now available: 'Flying the Twin Comanche,' an article written for the benefit of prospective owners. If you're shopping around, maybe I can help.

Pictures - 2004 up

Pictures - 2001 thru 2003

Why a twin?
Twin Comanche

There are many advantages, and some disadvantages, to flying multi-engine aircraft. The primary advantage, obviously, is the second engine. If one dies, you have a spare which will (hopefully) get you and your passengers safely on the ground. Since you have two engines, that also means two vacuum pumps, and two generators. I decided on a twin primarily for this system redundancy -- read, safety. There are single-engine aircraft which can be procured for similar prices or less, feature a nearly equal useful load, and are cheaper to operate and maintain. Nonetheless, when the prop stops turning in a single engine aircraft, you're usually out of options. If you're flying at night or over mountains (which I do frequently,) this leads to some stressful flying. Besides, twins are just plain sexy-looking!

Aside from safety, twins are typically faster than their single-engine counterparts, and usually feature greater endurance and cabin comfort. Note, I do say "usually" because there are plenty of twin/single comparisons one can make where the single beats the twin in a given category.

Some will argue that twins are not necessarily "safer" than single-engine aircraft because of a host of problems related to asymmetric thrust when losing an engine, higher weight/landing speed (a.k.a. kinetic energy in a forced landing), and more complex systems. I don't believe these downsides are an issue for a trained, proficient, current, and prepared pilot. At the end of the day I don't believe one can unequivocably say that a twin OR a single is "right" for all missions. In my case, I decided that my flying required a multi-engine aircraft. While non-pilot-induced (i.e. fuel starvation) engine failures are exceedingly rare, I simply wouldn't prefer to fly a single-engine plane in conditions where an engine failure would be an unsolvable dilemma.

Buying a twin
Buying the right multi-engine aircraft for your needs can be a challenge. There are hundreds of variables: the mission profile, acquisition cost, safety, single-engine performance, operating expense, load carrying capability, endurance, maintenance, cruise speed, airframe hours, engine health... the list goes on and on. Every used aircraft is some sort of compromise between these factors. I found AOPA's aircraft-buying guides to be an invaluable resource. Internet newsgroups like rec.aviation.owning were also very helpful.

I selected the Twin Comanche after considering aircraft such as the Cessna 310, the Beech Baron, the Beech TravelAir, and (briefly) the Seneca. For my needs -- usually just 2 people traveling, plus dogs and bags -- a small twin would do.

Process of elimination

  • Cessna 310 - I quickly ruled out the Cessna 310 after I calculated how much it would cost to operate -- besides, they're expensive, and according to many of their ex and current owners (thank you, rec.aviation.owning!) they're a maintenance nightmare. A quote I came across more than once is: "Friends don't let friends buy 310s." It's an awfully good-looking (and FAST!) airplane, but I decided it wasn't the right one for me.

  • Baron - another very sexy airplane, but finding a "nice" one (B55) was out of my price range. An expensive to operate plane, and one that was simply bigger than I needed. It's a quick airplane, but the 180kt cruise speed comes at too high an all-around price (including a 30gph fuel burn), in my opinion.

  • Beechcraft Travelair - another great (and often misunderstood) airplane. They look like a baby Baron! There aren't nearly as many of these on the market. They can be had for a great price and are reasonably cost-effective to operate. A nice airplane that I passed on mainly because they're hard to shop for and the information I had on them was limited. Also, I dislike the older Beech panel layout.

  • Piper Seneca - comes in lots of flavors. The I and II are frequently used as trainers. They're fairly large, lumbering aircraft that are pretty slow for the amount of fuel they guzzle. The only merits the Seneca offered which applied to my mission was a MORE than adequate hauling capability. The only reason I even considered one is because I had my multi-engine training in the Seneca I, so I was at least familiar with the plane.

"Do yourself a favor and buy a Twin Comanche."
I received an inordinate amount of emails telling me that for the type of flying I'd be doing (business flying and some light domestic travel), the Piper Twin Comanche was the right airplane. It was fast; it was efficient; it used two simple, easy to maintain Lyc IO-320s; it was the right size; it burned 16gph in cruise; it had a great safety record; and, most importantly, I could pick up a nicely-equipped and maintained Twin Comanche for under my $100,000 cap. The airplanes appreciate nicely and are very nice to fly. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that the Twin Comanche was practically designed for my mission.

Based on my research, and the advice of many other owners, I decided that I was going to purchase a Twin Comanche.

Unfortunately, despite the fact I bought mine for under $100k, I still put a lot of money into updating avionics, overhauling engines, etc. to get it to the point where I felt comfortable with it. But I am now quite happy with the airplane.