Opinions of a mid 60's Piper Comanche 250?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by ActiveAir, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Any opinions on the planes - good, bad, indifferent? Thinking of buying one for family travel, etc. New PPC and I understand it's a handful. I would need the hi perf. and complex. How does the age (of the plane) factor in? Thanks.
     
  2. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    They are great aircraft. engine is 0-540 260 horse airframe parts are well supported also.

    weak spots ? landig gear raise and lower gear box.
     
  3. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks...:D
     
  4. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I shopped for them when buying my plane. I was happy with every aspect of the plane except the landing flare angle. It comes in flat, pretty much no matter how you do the approach. Everyone is going to tell you how I'm doing it wrong, and all you have to do is have the speed right. Well, fly a few and make up your own mind.

    I would disagree that it's a handful as a complex HP plane. I think it's pretty much run of the mill. Prolly a little more to handle than a Cessna complex. Same or maybe a bit harder than a Bonanza, but not exceptionally so. I consider them great xc planes, and good handling. The interior noise on two that I flew was a bit high, but I think they both had slightly sprung doors.

    Interested in an early Bonanza? Faster, less fuel and money. :)
     
  5. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Decent enough planes, not a handful at all, real sweethearts hand flying in IMC really, nice and stable in all axis. You will need the HP and Comp endorsements, big whoop there. It's age means it't as old as I am.
     
  6. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member

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    "Mid 60s 250"? It was the 250, carbureted 540, through 1964, and the 260 (fuel injected 540) 1965; 260B, FI plus longer cabin (inside, airplane was the same size), 260C 1969 to 1972, when the flood killed production, with the really nice modern panel layout and the extended nose.

    Nice planes, great type club with excellent support. I seriously thought about Comanches, but it always seemed that you were either getting the show-plane with the big money price, or the cheap plane with birds' nests and Narco Whistle-Stop Tuning radios.


    The C models really hold their value well. I have read that Comanches cost more to insure than other equivalent aircraft, but that may be complete BS.

    OBTW, Doc may be right... have you flown a Bo?
     
  7. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    I fly a 1958 250 and love it. It's incredibly stable and can hold a lot which makes it a good cross country family airplane.

    Landing is interesting but not a huge deal. I think it's very similar to the attitude of an Arrow. The landing rep comes mostly from the tendency for the wing to fly until it suddenly decides not to, which might be a little earlier than you expect, but we're not talking about a big deal unless you "need" to make every single landing a greaser.
     
  8. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    I taught someone a 10-day IR course in one earlier this year. Nice plane, decent load, decent speed. IIRC, the payload with full fuel wasn't all that spectacular -- check the W&B on the plane carefully and compare it to your family size and plans.

    I expect the biggest issue for you will be that insurance for a brand new PPC with no IR or complex time is going to be very pricey. At your low experience level, don't be surprised if they want up to 25 hours of dual before they let you solo it. In addition, with HP/complex planes, insurers are very leery about non-IR pilots, since the purpose of such a plane is almost always travel, and if you travel, you're going to bump into weather. Expect your insurance to be very high until you get at least 25 hours of retractable time (probably more like 50-100) and get your IR.

    The other issue is that it probably has a "shotgun" instrument layout rather than the standard-T you probably learned on. This can make your instrument training a bit more difficult, but it's not a big hurdle to overcome if that's the plane you fly all the time. Also, many early PA24's have had their panels converted to standard-T configuration.

    Finally, many planes from that era still have vintage radios, and while there's nothing inherently wrong with a couple of KX-170B's and an old ADF, it's not the modern avionics folks today generally want. If you shop around, you'll find it's cheaper in the long run to find a plane with the avionics you want already installed rather than to install them yourself after purchase, but you'll have to be more patient in the buying process to get that.
     
  9. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I think the PA-24 market is too narrow to do that, my suggestion is to find a good airframe and upgrade as needed from there.

    Get lucky, find an old hangar queen and build your aircraft. The PA 24 market is one that allow the resale value to go up enough to recoupe the money.

    engine, paint, and radios, (brand new) is below the market for that quality aircraft.

    Prop and prop gov. would be my first upgrade.
     
  10. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Those are excellent suggestions for someone like Tom who is an A&P, has access to the parts systems for planes like this, is willing to wait months or years to put the plane to use, and has the time to work on it. For a first time buyer with no aircraft maintenance experience and a desire to start flying places upon delivery, it may not be such a good idea. If you have a lot of money to spend, you can get all those upgrades done professionally without a lot of down time (a few weeks, probably), but going that route will require putting more money in the plane than you'll ever get out of it.
     
  11. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    We shopped Comanches a few years ago. Very roomy, very comfortable, lots of rear-seat room for family trips (wide enough to avoid the "Daddy, Johnny's on my side!!" problem). Our biggest gripe was limited cabin visibility. The windows are all quite narrow, though there is a mod available to enlarge the windshield. The small windows were a deal-breaker for my wife, who preferred the openness of the Bonanza cabin.
     
  12. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Comanches are great deals. I have never flown a 250/260, but I've got about 5 or 7 hours in a Comanche 180 (my instructor's plane bought brand new by his dad in 1962). I'm not sure I understand what people are complaining about with the landings on them. I find it no more challenging to fly than the Mooney M20F I fly, which I don't really consider challenging so much as good fun.

    I would say check the useful load and see if it matches your mission. Otherwise, I really wouldn't see a reason to avoid it. Yes, you may have some insurance requirements, but most of those requirements are probably good ideas. You will also want to fly it a bunch, especially at the beginning, just to get familiar with approaches and landings. Once you get into this class of plane you do need to actually plan your approaches, patterns, and landings. For example, in the Mooney I was still 30 miles out when I started my descent yesterday. I also needed to descend 6000 ft to reach pattern altitude and that 30 miles was only a bit over 10 minutes. In the Comanche 250 it'd be even quicker. You'll get used to it quickly, though.

    I know the 180s had a prop AD, not sure about the 250s. Either way, my instructor replaced the prop on his 180 with a nice 3-bladed McCauley. Looks much cooler. :)
     
  13. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I owned a '64 for a while, found the 60 gal fuel capacity inadequate for the 250 engine, at least for a number of the IFR trips I flew at the time. For that reason, I wouldn't consider one without the bigger tanks. YMMV.

    My worst landing in 13k hours was in the 250 on a gusty day in Kansas. When the wing quits flying, you need to be real close to the pavement. If you're not, it can get ugly. The airplane wasn't hurt, but my ego took a hit. The only good news is that I was alone, so nobody can send reminders.

    Nothing extraordinarily either good or bad, just another airplane with the ususal mix of attributes and shortcomings. I found it unhandy to work on, since much of the stuff is under the floor and hard to access, but not of sufficient issue to disqualify it as an airplane to buy. If you get one, don't leave the Jepp book in front of the gear handle on the floor.

     
  14. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the great replies. Please, keep them coming. :yes::D

    PM'd you, thanks.


    Ha, my same argument on the age thing. I'm just as old, and still work great...although need a little more maintenance. :D


    I'm told it's a '64 250 with a FI 540. Very clean. I have not yet flown in a Bo.


    This is great info - thanks! I'm thinking insurance will be a big hurdle at first, and I would be wanting to upgrade some avionics. Looking at a possible partnership where I would come in and inject some cash/upgrades into an already very well kept plane.
     
  15. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks. I'm looking at a very clean one that I would want to upgrade avionics.

    Good points as always. I'll have to get a handle on the costs of the upgrades I would want to put in. Airframe/interior is beautiful.


    Yes, I noticed the window thing as well. It's hard to get everything, and a great price. I did like the room, as I am 6'3 and my son is about the same.


    Probably would switch to the three blade Mc. I took a ride yesterday in it, and can definitely see the need to stay out ahead of it. I'm used to the 172s, and the speed at which we came into the pattern, I told him I would probably have to go on down to the next airport to get slowed down enough to land. The difference between the 250 and the 172 was exciting. I didn't sleep much last night.


    Thanks! This one has 90 gal. tanks. I'm hearing a lot about this "the wing stops flying" thing on landing. At least I'd have an excuse...:dunno:;)
     
  16. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I really don't think so, in todays market the shops that do these things are hurting, and should be interestd in lowering the cost of these upgrades.

    Many A&P's are working under the table to support the house budget, things are changing in these areas, I'd suggest the owner thinking of any upgrade talk to his local A&P and see what can be worked out.

    Talk things like " I am thinking about doing this, If I buy the parts what will you charge me for the instal?"
     
  17. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hmmm, I think all FI Comanches are the 260HP? I could be wrong. Ron and I have the same long-running argument about insurance. He's the scare-monger, and I have a solution that he dismisses. Go liability only. Under $1000/year. If you ball up your own plane you fix it or part it out. Once you have 50 hours(maybe 6 months or a year) you can decide on hull coverage at a more reasonable price.

    The Bo has a much taller cabin for folks +6'. :) Bigger windows, taller door, more legroom, throw-over yoke so the pax doesn't have one in his/her lap, fold-flat pax rudders for more leg room yet. Adjustable seat backs, swiveling glare shields...... I could go on.
     
  18. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    You're making me wish I was in the market so I'd have an excuse to come see yours... :yes:
     
  19. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    As a data point here, my partner in my Lance had not yet passed his PPL checkride when we bought it. 150K hull value and his insurance bill is $6K per year, even now when he has nearly 100 hours in type, but still no IR. His checkout requirement was, I think, inadequate, He had to pass his PPL checkride (which he did before we took delivery) and then was required to get only 10 hours dual, to include 15 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. (He had no retract or high perf time.) I encouraged him to exceed this requirement, and he did listen to me about that.
     
  20. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    Workable solution for some people, but not for others. It really depends on your financial situation and risk tolerance. And, of course, it's not an option if you have a loan.
     
  21. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Great ideas. I don't like to take advantage of people, but I'm a decent negotiator - not afraid to ask for a better deal....:D


    Yep, I'm going to have to clarify the engine - 250 or 260. He did say 250, 540 FI yesterday. The Bo sounds very nice! I like the fold flat pax rudders...:D


    :hairraise: That's kind of a huge ins. nut to crack annually. I'm thinking older plane won't be that much, but still, I get what you're writing. Insurance is a key factor here. I could probably cover the hull, to go w/a liab.only, but this might turn into a partnership deal and I would want the partner completely comfortable. No loan involved for this deal.
     
  22. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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    (midway barker voice) Step right up friend, have I got a deal for youuuuuuuuu! Just $34 down, and $67 a month - for the rest of your life!!!!!

    :hairraise::hairraise::hairraise::hairraise::hairraise::hairraise::hairraise:
     
  23. flyersfan31

    flyersfan31 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I second that. You want to be out flying, not restoring. There is a lot more to worry about owning an airplane versus, say, a car.
     
  24. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Sometimes the fact that it's older causes a higher rate (the percentage of value they set as the premium rate, like 1% of hull value versus 1.4% or something like that) on the hull insurance. The issue is the scarcity/expense of replacement parts for the airframe. That can result in a plane being totaled with less damage than a similar but new plane for which parts are more readily available. Check with a good insurance broker early on in this process to get a feel for what your options are and how much they'll cost.
     
  25. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    It really is just a matter of getting used to it. Once you're used to it, it's fine, but it does take some getting used to. In training, we fly these planes that are so simple and forgiving that you can practically be 5000 ft above the airport on downwind and still hit the numbers. Then, we get into these faster, more slippery planes where getting to a speed where you can even put the flaps and gear down is a challenge, and forget about making landings when you're high and fast, unless the runway really is that long.

    Personally, I think that they're great planes and see no reason why you couldn't or shouldn't buy one and get started with it. My second lesson, period, was in a Comanche 180. Just make sure you get the appropriate flight instruction to get proficient with it before you turn yourself loose. Those numbers the insurnace gives are probably not unrealistic in that regard. You'll want to do at least one XC with it, that way you see what sort of descent planning you need.

    Another good idea woudl be to get started on your IR with it after you get maybe 10 or 20 hours of flying time in it, that will really help you to get to know the plane.
     
  26. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Great point. This plane is very clean, in and out. I would probably upgrade avionics, maybe cleaner cowling that I've heard about.


    Makes sense. I'm told parts for the Pipers/Comanches are fairly easy to come by. Looks like I really gotta work through the insurance angle first.
     
  27. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This all sounds good and like the course of action I will pursue if I decide to jump on this deal. As for slowing the plane, the owner was telling me about ways he slows the plane, on the turns to dw, dropping the gear, etc. I'm looking to get going with the complex/high pro training pretty soon.
     
  28. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Dropping the gear is the best thing to help slow down a complex. Well, that and flaps. The problem can be getting it down to the speed where you CAN dump the gear. In the Mooney, for example, gear/flaps are 120 mph. Getting it down from 160-180 mph to 120 takes a bit of practice, especially if you don't want to shock cool the engine (which I don't) and so you want to leave some power in. I try to be really nice to the engine, especially since we're just about past the 2000 hour mark in it.

    Anyway, these are all things you will learn once you get into your training with it.

    The only thing I can say is that there is probably some benefit to flying for a while and getting exposed to different aircraft before you decide what you want to buy. That said, in my case I'm getting to the point where I'm relatively close to buying an aircraft, and not much has changed in terms of what I want since I first starting flying, so maybe that advice really isn't very good. ;)
     
  29. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    Yes and no. Piper has made no bones about the fact that they are tailing off product support for legacy airplanes. That leaves the aftermarket and salvage yards for airframe parts. There is a big enough Comanch fleet out there that this isn't as much of a problem now as it will be in the future. It certainly raises the hassle factor somewhat.
     
  30. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Let me call my neighbor, he's 92 and looking for an airplane for me to fly him in....
     
  31. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    > Yes and no. Piper has made no bones about the fact that they are tailing off
    > product support for legacy airplanes.

    I was under the impression that Piper didn't make any new parts for the Comanche
    since the flood in 1972. Am I mistaken?
     
  32. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    IIRC, parts support for the PA24-series comes from a private outfit. The International Comanche Society is probably your best source for information on this subject.
     
  33. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I used to completely discount any ads for planes that still had a shotgun panel, but then I found out that a new panel, using the same instruments and radios (ie no upgrades except for placement) can be done for around $3,000. Well worth it, if everything else is the way you want it.
     
  34. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    90 gallons is good. 120 is even better, and if your 90 is all in the wings, you can add tip tanks if you want. That'll give you crazy range (even if you don't intend to use it, it gives you a lot more options when things go wrong, especially IFR.) It can also make your flying cheaper, because you can tank up on the "cheap" fuel when you go past it on a cross country and pass up the expensive places. That can make a big difference.
     
  35. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    For the most part, the 250's are carbureted and the 260's are fuel injected, but they actually did make a few dozen fuel injected 250's and some carbureted 260's as well. In fact, the type certificate data sheet for the Comanche series lists the engine for the 250 as an O-540-A1A and the 260 as an O-540-E4A5 (both carbureted). There were several other optional variants of the O-540 (A1A5, A1B5, A1C5, A1D5) and also the IO-540-C1B5 available on the 250, and on the 260 you could get an IO-540-D4A5, N1A5, or turbocharged IO-540-R1A5.

    Taller, yes, but only in the middle. The Bo is rounded off quite a bit at the top, while the Comanche is quite square. IME, I bump my head less in the Comanche than I do in the Bo. (6'4")
     
  36. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is good to know, thanks. I confirmed, the engine is FI 250. :D
     
  37. Larryo

    Larryo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ted,

    I hate to be disagreeable, but may I suggest that one learn how to fly the plane, before using inappropriate technique. The Comanche is fairly easy to learn.

    There's no reason whatsoever to use the gear as a brake, other than an emergency. And that goes for most any plane.

    It really doesn't take much to learn how to control power/pitch/speed.

    The only function the gear has is for ground operations.
     
  38. Larryo

    Larryo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Active,

    While the Comanche is a fine plane, you really need to get a ride in a Bonanza. I too, looked seriously at the Comanche, and had a fair amount of time in them, singles and twins, and went for the Bo and never looked back.

    The Bo will cost you a few bucks more, but the direct operating costs per mile will be close, perhaps a bit better for the Bo. The Comanche is well built, has some gear quirks, has a smaller cabin, could have better balance (depending) and parts are available for both. The Bo handles much better, has stronger support, and there's a ton of them out there.

    You won't go wrong with either, assuming you do a good pre-purchase, get good training and understand what it takes to maintain these planes (which really isn't bad in either case). I've owned two Pipers, and flown a lot of them from the TriPacer to the Cheyenne, no regrets. I've got a lot more time in the Beechcraft and like them more overall.

    Get that ride, and then we'll figure out which model Bo you need.....
     
  39. jmaynard

    jmaynard Cleared for Takeoff

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    Funny, but I've always heard that it's recommended, when flying an ILS in a retract, to get the airplane established straight and level at approach speed and with approach flaps, and then drop the gear at glideslope intercept - which will produce just the right descent rate to fly the glideslope nicely. Are you saying that this is incorrect technique?
     
  40. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Noooooooooo.....

    NEVER extend flaps before gear -- unless you just have an urge to sandblast the underside of your airplane.

    This is my technique, and it's a damn good one.