Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BE50 shoulder harness

One thing I really want taken care of right away on my new TBone is the lack of shoulder harnesses, at least for the pilot and copilot positions.  It just feels strange to settle into a pilot seat and not strap in.  For safety and for my own peace of mind, I need a shoulder harness!  As I researched it I am amazed that there is no STC for them in the TwinBonanza.  I know this was the era of the big Cadilac where no one wore seat belts and kids rode around in the back of pickup trucks... but really?  Even the curmudgeon's at the FAA recognize that they need to be accommodative in this regard.  Someone sent me this missive from the FAA that basically sets policy for FSDO's to be ready to do field approvals in the name of safety.  https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/harness_kits/media/shoulderpolicy.pdf

Great.  Now I just need a field approval.  Luckily it seems the TBone community is tight nit and awesome and I found someone who has done it and he sent me the 337.  Score!  That will save a bunch of time and money figuring out how to do this.  In case anyone ever needs it, here it is..


Friday, February 10, 2017

My new ride

Well, something quite amazing and cool fell into my lap and I just fell in love it it.  I'm now the proud new owner of TwinBonanza N787SC.  This is an absolutely gorgeous TBone with low total time, low engine times (250 hrs), and just oozes style and class from a bygone era.  The plane literally drips with nostalgia and although it's not a turboprop, and it's not pressurized, I just had to have it.

I expected I'd go plane-less a bit longer than this, but when I stumbled on 7SC I felt I should move quickly since  I really didn't want anyone else to snatch it up.  She's a top of the market TBone, just out of annual at Todd Thacker's place.  Complete logs, only 4,000 hrs total time and in tip top shape with no deferred maintenance, according to Todd's shop which just finished the annual.

I went out to see her and Todd took me flying.  She was so gorgeous and smooth and obviously well cared for, I just went with my gut and said screw it...  I bought the plane as-is where is with no prebuy!  Yikes, but as soon as I saw it I knew I was going to buy it so why not?  If I understand correctly there just a handful of nice D50E's left flying and I now own one of them.  My friend Aaron has another one which is a stunning example.  Between gawking at Aaron's gorgeous bird and always being enraptured by the steadfast and dedicated work of Gregg Cadieux,  I simply decided I need own a TBone one day... and so one day is now!

I had said I wanted something bigger, faster, higher, further... well I ended up with one of those things at least, bigger!  Basically I traded some speed for size.  The TBone is substantially bigger than my Baron...  in fact it's seems absolutely ginormous and the ramp presence is incredible.  The wingspan is 45 feet!  I'm 6'4" tall and I can basically stand fully upright under the end of the wing, and it's a freakin low wing!  Perfect shade for Oshkosh.  Man this thing is cool.

Panel wise it's actually pretty well equipped.  Like I did with my Baron, the prior owner dropped some serious coin into the panel on this plane although the GPS units are a generation old now.  It's got dual 530w's, an Aspen, a panel mounted 796 and an STEC 60-2 autopilot.  The props are alcohol but no boots so I'll need to be a bit more cautious about avoiding ice.  It's got VGs, the air-stair door, nice interior, leather seats and great windows.  Paint is in very nice condition with just a few specs of filiform corrosion on the tail feathers.  I think there are still a few things I can do to her to make her a real gem and restore her to full glory.  Right now she is at Todd's shop and I'm having a new headliner installed since the old one looked pretty crappy, and I'm installing 4 point harnesses for the pilot and copilot seats since it only has lap belts right now.  My plan is to fly it as is for awhile and then I might consider some more upgrades.

Without further ado, here are a few pics.  In a few weeks when the work is done I'll head back to Georgia to pick her up and fly her back across the country.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Life after the Baron

The rumors are true...  I've just sold my beloved plane and watched her fly away with the new owner into a misty overcast.  I no longer own the "G55" Baron.  Crazy I know, everyone is telling me I'm a dolt and a fool and they're probably right.  I'm pretty confident I had one of the top three nicest BE-55's on the planet, the best Colemill 600 and certainly the best fully deiced 55 I've ever seen.   I went through every detail of the plane...  from the SRS aluminum elevators to the chromed gas caps, to the carbon fiber recessed side panels, glare shield and headliner with touch led overhead lights...   and of course, those plush Tim Hallock seats and carpet which provided a stately view when looking out of those big, beautiful DBM windows.  I literally restored every inch of the entire plane including putting factory engines on it and a stunning Copeland paint job... did I mention the panel?  Everything was done, and at no small expense.  But alas, the song of bigger, faster, further, higher...

Like many planes of this caliber, it never hit the market.  It went to a fellow BTer and all around awesome guy.  Of course I lost my shirt on her, but it was a fair enough deal for a top of the market plane and I didn't have to deal with marketing it or tire kickers.  I'm just tickled that it's going to such a great guy and family.  It served us well for 7 years and 1,000 hrs and I'm sure it will continue to be in great hands.  A frictionless sale with literally not a single argument or point of contention.  Yes, I do have first rights of buyback should he ever decide to sell!

So... what's next?  As I said, I'm thinking bigger, faster, higher, further.  Of course aviation is a compromise so I can probably pick one of those criteria...

You don't have to convince me that a turboprop is a game changer.   The "personal" turbine seems to be the Meridian so I researched it.  I wanted to love it... I really did.  I joined MMOPA (great group),  and even took a test ride with an awesome an knowledgable owner.  But try as I might I just can't fall in love with the plane.  Compared to the expansive view in the Baron it feels like looking out of two tank slits.  I wormed my 6'4" frame into the pilot seat and sat awkwardly and somewhat uncomfortably.  It feels smaller than my Baron inside...  but it's a turboprop!  and pressurized!  and it goes 260 kts!  but oh my the expenses...  The yearly taxes alone would dwarf my entire maintenance budget on the Baron, not to mention the purchase price.   My mission is family trips.  The replacement plane will have no real job.  I fly professionally 400 hrs a year but this bird sees 100-150 hrs a year at most.  A turbine would be great but hard to justify with that amount of usage.  Maybe a partnership in a bigger turbine?  If only one were forthcoming...  

Pressurized piston twin?  Well the cream of the crop is the 421 in my opinion.  Bigger, yes.  Faster?  Not really.  But it's pressurized.  So much junk on the market.  Do I really want to climb the maintenance mountain on a 30 year old pressurized piston twin?  Not really... maybe really definitely most likely no?

My wife would love something pressurized that rides the bumps well.  My oldest son gets airsick super easily.  That would help.  I fly my mother in law a lot, and she always struggled to climb the wing and get in the Baron with her bad back... air stair, cabin class would be nice.  Something faster would be great, could we fly to Minnesota to visit my wife's sister in a reasonable amount of time?   What we really need is a Pilatus or a Honda Jet!  Some day, later...

Anyway it's a tough call.  I've got my mind on one model that tugs at my heart strings, and I bought a big hangar that will fit it.  But we shall see...