Talk Me Out of Upgrading to 6 Seats

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by iamtheari, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. j1b3h0

    j1b3h0 Line Up and Wait

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    I agree with Mr. Gmonnig;Yes, very expensive. A turbo Centurion will work most of the time (‘til the kids get big), ditto a B 36, TN A36. Although not technically FIKI, turbocharging allows for a lot of flexibility- altitude wise, and a skilled pilot can avoid icing most of the time. Sometimes that means 6 people sucking on a mask.
     
  2. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    In fairness, I have some time in a PA-32R-301T Saratoga. It cruises at 165 KTAS on an obscene amount of gas for a single, like 18gph, and is one of the most comfortable airplanes I have been in. But there is no deice capability, the turbocharger adds maintenance costs that don't benefit my mission, and I understand from the owners that you have to be pretty conscientious about loading it.

    It seems like it's easier to find a nice 340 than any 335. But I appreciate the suggestion as it's something to keep an eye out for. I also hadn't considered the PA-31 Navajo. It seems like it would easily handle the mission, if it can do so affordably. Room enough for 4 adults, 2 kids, and 2 dogs, from the looks of it. Why would it cost less to operate than a 335?

    The problem is when there's a layer of icy clouds over the airport. At some point, it becomes "known icing" even though it is not enough to overwhelm a Cherokee, and I am "that guy" who follows every law, every time...with the exception of the speed limit, of course. :) But the point is that being able to fly over the ice is only helpful if you can get above it on departure and below it on approach, which is sometimes not legally possible regardless of the plane's service ceiling.

    It looks like Aerostars can be had for somewhat reasonable prices without FIKI, but otherwise well-equipped. And it would be one of the easiest planes for passengers to board, plus famously fast. How much do they cost to run?
     
  3. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    The last time I flew a P-Navajo I had a fuel controller problem on climbout from OAK and almost turned back but soldiered on to Seattle...the plane sat for six months with the left engine removed then I never saw it again. Not my favorite. I have some pressurization tales to tell as well.

    Bob
     
  4. j1b3h0

    j1b3h0 Line Up and Wait

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    Definitely NOT a P Navajo! Almost as rare as a Mooney Mustang,...for the same reason: they’re impossible to maintain. A PA-31-350 will do what you want, cruise at an easy 180-190kts, carry up to 8 fat people, with room for lots of luggage, what with wing lockers and aft baggage compartment, and a potty. Almost all are FIKI with boots, heated captain’s windshield, hot props, etc,. Plan 50gph for the first hour. I made many trips from OAK to Seattle Boeing, so it has the range, or could load 1800lbs in the cabin (freighter) and fly nearly 2hrs with IFR reserves. Never had one over 18,000ft, but I think it could get to 25 in a pinch. Great airplane if you can find a nice one. Aint cheap, tho. Usually flown by an ATP for good reason.
     
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  5. wheaties

    wheaties Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Insurance on a twin the first year will eat you alive, assuming you can be insured. Assume fir a cabin class twin the answer is a "no" or a "no way can I afford that."

    If you want FIKI I'd look for a 4 seater.
     
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  6. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    I would consider the rating, transition training, mentor pilot if required, and insurance premium for the first year to fall under the total cost of acquisition. In my view, it's the second-year insurance that makes a plane affordable or not. Ultimately we probably aren't looking at cabin-class planes, but I don't want to kick them out of the running without numbers to back it up.
     
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  7. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Just keep on pounding those rivets on the RV-14, we need all the resale volume we can muster.
     
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  8. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Because none of them are actually a true six seat airplane?
     
  9. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    Don't worry, I'll get it done and I won't sell it. The RV-14 is a motorcycle replacement. This thread is talking about minivan replacements. :)

    I think it does depend on the people that need to go in the seats. But I wonder how the comfort and costs work out between an Aztec (which model is yours?) and an A36. I've never been in the back of either.
     
  10. Gmonnig

    Gmonnig Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The P-Navajo is a completely different animal than the baby Navajo with IO-540s. I don’t think there are any similarities between the two, save, the name. It’s a piston Cheyenne, not a pressurized Navajo. I think they are beautiful but as much or more maintenance than a Duke.
     
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  11. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    The problems with the A36 are: a) useful load is light for a 6-seater, which limits fuel load and range if the payload is high, b) the rear seat is weight limited (280 lbs max on a friend's turbo A36, so good only for a couple of young children or early teens; if you want to carry an adult it's a 5-seater max) and, c) the CG range also limits the ability to load much baggage in the airplane if there's 6 people in it.

    My Aztec is a 1979 'F'. It has an 1850 lb useful load, and most of my flights start with ~800 lbs of fuel (the earlier 'C' models were lighter and carry a bit more, but I wanted the later systems including hydraulic pumps on both engines). There's some information, including some interior pictures and dimensional information starting on post #86 of this thread:
    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...rue-6-person-luggage-light-twin.120971/page-3
     
  12. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for the link. I vaguely remembered seeing that thread but forgot what to search for. Idly browsing ads, I did see a variety of useful loads in Aztecs, all the way down to 1600 lbs in a non-turbo F.
     
  13. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I've never seen an Aztec with a useful load as low as 1600 lbs. Whoever owns it must have loaded it up with all sorts of useless crap; either that or their weigh scales need calibrating. The early 'C' and 'D' models approach 2000 lb useful loads. Paging @Ted DuPuis Have you ever seen one that heavy when empty?
     
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  14. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    #bandozer
    I seem to recall closer to 2k lbs for N6927Y, but it's been a long time.

    When're you going to come by Kansas so that we can go flying in yours? :)
     
  15. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Yes, the sound insulation and heavier interior add weight to mine. I accept that and prefer the comfort, but if it was needed a "diet program" could probably gain at least 100 lbs additional useful load without having to rip out any seats. :cool:

    Geez I want to get down there so badly. I have been head down, tail up with work, and hardly any time to fly in the past 3 months. Finally got out for a sightseeing flight last Sunday over the rocks (pic on Daily Pic thread). I will eventually find an opportunity to fly myself to our Tulsa base, and that would be the perfect time to drop in to your neck of the woods!
     
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  16. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    When I get the RV finished I will come harass all of you fine folks to go for rides in each other’s planes. To avoid FAA involvement, we can just be sure we pay for our own gas ...

    Here it is, the mythical Aztec that can’t be flown fully loaded: https://www.controller.com/listings/aircraft/for-sale/163323741/1978-piper-aztec-f

    It looks like it could lose 50 lbs of ADF and DME equipment but I can’t explain the other 200 lbs it apparently carries around the hips.
     
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  17. kayoh190

    kayoh190 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    ^^^ nice plane! I tend to think something like that fits your mission and budget better than anything else.
     
  18. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Don't do it.

    HTH
    Charlie
     
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  19. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    It is a close fit but I really don’t get the useful load issue. Did they forget to unload the hidden smuggling compartment of 100 kilos of ... imported goods?
     
  20. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    It's turbocharged which means there's a bit of extra weight in that induction and exhaust system, the dual turbo controllers on each side, and of course the turbochargers themselves. In addition it has the Piper factory O2 system, which has a very large and rather heavy steel tank taking up part of the rear baggage compartment. They may also have added some weight with soundproofing when they re-did the interior. But a 1600 lb useful load is remarkably low, even for an 'F' model Aztec.
     
  21. JEB

    JEB Filing Flight Plan

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    Useful on my A36 is over 1400 lbs. If I fill the tanks with 80 gallons, I use up 480 of that. 920 lbs across 6 people is 153 lbs each.
    The A36 is not like the Beech 33s or 35s, CG is good across the board. So, let's say you can't fly 6, 200 pounders, but you can take a group that averages out to 153 pretty easily.

    If I upgrade to an IO550 from my current IO520 (which is the plan), then I gain another 100lbs of useful load. That gets me to 6 people at 170 lbs each. If I were to go crazy and add tip tanks to my plane, the gross weight jumps to 4000 lbs form the current 3600. Assume some of that gain is lost to the weight of the tip tanks, so let's just add 200 lbs to the overall useful load for a total of 1600 lbs. That would put me at 6 people with an average weight of 186 lbs - WITH FULL TANKS. Nobody wants to sit in a GA plane full of 6 people for 5 hours. Adjusting fuel load gets you even more flexibility.

    A key thing about the A36, is that it's certified in the Utility category. some of these gross weight increases simply shift the plane to Normal category. It's built very stout vs some of the other options out there.
     
  22. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    I like the Aztec a lot. It is not the fastest out there, but it can carry a ton, and it is a tank of an airplane.
     
  23. j1b3h0

    j1b3h0 Line Up and Wait

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    A36 Bonanzas are fine airplanes, but calling it a “six-seater” is euphemistic. It’a a GREAT 4-seater, and okay for the short flight when the back seats have children in them, but a 600nm flight with all the seats full plus luggage, in the weather would be akin to the family riding a Vespa. A Baron 58 will actually do the mission, carry everybody with room for luggage in the nose, but again the lack of a potty on a 3 + hour flight not good. I own a V35A and my brother an A36. They have about the same useful load.
     
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  24. j1b3h0

    j1b3h0 Line Up and Wait

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    Aztecs are nice, but if my memory serves, it has a max fuel weight limitation that is the most limiting. Roomy for 4 and same airfoil section as a supercub.
     
  25. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Does anyone have any experience doing that the OP proposes? It just strikes me as something that would get old quickly.

    One of my wife's friend's fathers owned a beach house about six hours from her house. What they found out rather quickly was that loading the entire family up in their minivan and going six hours each way was more tiring than relaxing, and that they rarely did it once the novelty wore off. I just can't see loading up an airplane with all the seats filled and doing two four hour legs would be appealing to all of the participants, especially the children.

    I will have to say we never were able to do a four hour leg in the car until my youngest was about 12.
     
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  26. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I routinely do a 2.7-3.0 hour leg to the Bahamas. I would NOT want to double that.
     
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  27. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    A little over 5.5 hours is my longest so far. I definitely wouldn’t want to make that a regular trip.
     
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  28. Martin Pauly

    Martin Pauly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Agreed. My A36 makes for a VERY comfortable ride for four adults and some luggage. Or two adults and more luggage than my car will hold.
    Six adults will be uncomfortable on long trips, the useful weight issue aside.

    - Martin
     
  29. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    I just did almost a 5 hour trip to SD. 2 legs of 2.45-ish. I did lose an hour with the time zone change, but somehow that was a whole day. Left around 9am, and skipped lunch and was eating dinner at 430pm. With a fuel stop, taxiing, getting a rental, checking in, I was done with that day. There was a lost hour at the fuel stop because a local took the fuel pump key. So a 10 minute potty and fuel stop took about an hour.

    Even with a great AP, it was a long day of flying. Just adding that it does make for a long day no matter what you are flying.
     
  30. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    There is no "max fuel weight limitation". Mine holds 177 usable gallons (~1100 lbs) and all four of the tanks can be filled if necessary (although my bladder can't handle that much time in the air). There is a zero fuel weight limitation of 4400 lbs (for a 5200 gross weight airframe), but I've never found that an issue for anything I have ever done with mine. As I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread, my typical flight starts with ~800 lbs of total fuel.

    They are like a limo if there's only 4 in the plane, but it's still very comfortable with six adults in the cabin. That's been proven over the decades by the number of them in passenger charter service (the brokers tell me the Aztec is still a popular short haul charter plane in Mexico and the Caribbean, if I wanted to sell mine).
     
  31. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    It is indeed a long day of flying. My longest day flying was 11.2 hours in my Arrow, mostly with a cabin altitude of 12,000 feet, 5.0 hours under the hood on an IFR flight plan, and all hand-flown. At the end, I did not want to fly another hour that day and I didn't particularly want to repeat the trip the next day, either. I have no illusions that everyone will feel refreshed after spending 6 hours in a big single or light twin or that we will want to make the trip every weekend. But this is not a solution looking for a problem, or a problem that makes no rational sense at all. (E.g., "What plane should I get to fly 50 miles for a hamburger every Saturday and 3,200 miles across the Rockies and open ocean to visit Puerto Rico for Christmas?" or "What single-engine plane should I get so I can live at Telluride and commute every week to my job in Chicago?")

    We have been accomplishing the current version of this mission by car. One branch of my family lives in the next state over. The rest of us live within 20 miles of each other. Currently, we can have breakfast, pile ourselves and the dogs into the car, drive about 6 hours plus a lunch stop, and have supper as a complete family. We can do that on a moment's notice and it makes sense even for a short visit, like going down on Friday to go to one of the kids' church milestones on Sunday, or just because they miss grandpa. We can also cancel such a trip on a moment's notice, such as when the roads are bad. We currently make that trip 5-10 times a year.

    That branch of the family is about to move. Their new location cannot reasonably be reached by car. It can be reached by airline, but only if you plan long ahead, spend $750-1,200 per person on tickets, hit the road before sunrise or spend the night in an airport hotel, lose a miserable, full day traveling by car and regional jet, eat 3-4 consecutive meals at fast food joints along the way, and arrive after the kids' bedtime. At 180 knots, the new flight will be the small airplane equivalent of the old drive: 6 hours plus a stop for lunch.

    The questions I am posing are:
    1. Can we safely, comfortably, and affordably do by air what we have been doing by car?
    2. If so, which airplanes make the most sense?
    3. What can I do before buying more airplanes to improve the safety, comfort, and affordability of the trip?

    With upcoming construction planned at our local airport, I would not really want to buy a bigger plane until the latter half of 2021. But, if I figure out that there is a perfect plane to accomplish the mission, I can spend 18 months shopping and training for it so everything is ready when the time comes.

    I really appreciate the advice and information in this thread. It seems like we should try to find a Cessna 210 to "try on" for size and keep our eyes open for deals on an Aztec, 310, or 303. Any of these planes are apparently capable of being operated without costing orders of magnitude more than the airlines.

    If we decide we love going this way, or if the right airplane falls into our lap, a 340 or a non-pressurized Navajo could be worth the added comfort.
     
  32. MarkH

    MarkH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The only question I can answer of those is number 3.

    My advice is: rent. I would suggest (especially since you have a good reason to delay buying for a year) renting at least 3 different planes: unpressurized single, an unpressurized twin, and a pressurized single/turbine. 210 is a good start, but for that long of a trip, it may not be enough. Driving at sea level for 6 hours is less exhausting than flying at 6000 ft. With a 125K budget, if you can afford to finish and keep the RV-14 also, then you are in a situation to find 2 or 3 partners to purchase something significantly more comfortable.
     
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  33. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    My experience is the polar opposite of the underlined portion. Maybe I haven't driven enough miles at sea level, but 2,000-4,000 isn't that much higher. I find that I feel much better after a flight at 8,000 feet than after a drive of an equal duration at 2,000, and that's without factoring in the road conditions or murderous other drivers out there. (Actually, I found 5+ hours hand-flying under the hood at 12,000 MSL to be much less fatiguing than 5 hours driving.)

    As far as renting, I don't think that it is an option. There is exactly one airplane available for rent in my area, and it is decidedly not an upgrade from my Arrow. That's why I bought the Arrow in the first place. I appreciate the advice, and it is 100% on-point for anyone who has more rental options than we do. I fear that the closest I can adapt the rental advice is to hang out around airplanes and try to get time in them, which has worked well enough to get me front-seat time in a variety of planes both within and well beyond my wildest dreams.

    That being said, I will still look into it. How does one find high-performance singles or light twins for rent? :)
     
  34. MarkH

    MarkH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It's a challenge. Where are you located (perhaps the hive mind of POA can help)?

    Because of the wide variety of planes you are considering, I would look farther out to rent. Even if you have to fly the Arrow an hour out to pick up the rental, knowing exactly what you are getting for the extra maintenance cost of a Baron vs a Saratoga could make the decision very easy, or it could scratch both of them off your list. It is better to know before you drop 6 figures, and 5+ hours in type will reduce your first-year insurance hassle a little.

    I know in Atlanta, you can rent a Saratoga and an Aztek from the same place.

    If you can't rent, try to get access to the planes so that you and (possibly more importantly) some of your passengers can sit in the airplane and get a feel for it.
     
  35. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    I'm in western North Dakota. Even 2 hours in the Arrow doesn't gain me much. I will ask my pilot friends at all the airports in that radius, though. Maybe one of them has a lead.

    Another idea is that I can easily spend time in Arizona as I have family and a free place to stay in the Phoenix area. I would not be opposed to doing an intensive multiengine course and/or renting and/or just getting checked out in planes like the 210 down there. Maybe even an intro flight in a 340 or Aztek if that's a thing. Other places where I can fairly easily spend time include Minneapolis, Jackson MS, and Virginia Beach.

    I do have time in both front seats of a Turbo Saratoga. I like the airframe but I think that the powerplant maintenance and fuel consumption are excessive to get altitude performance that I don't need, at the low end of speeds that I could stand.
     
  36. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Awright you guys,

    Aztek:

    [​IMG]

    Aztec:

    [​IMG]

    Know the difference! :p
     
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  37. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think it's hard to beat a normally aspirated Saratoga if you just want a flying truck to haul 6 people in. I think most of them have a useful load of around 1600 pounds. Having not read the rest of the thread, maybe you've already decided you need a turbo?

    If your budget is $125K, I think you should increase that for a single because even if you buy a twin at $125K, it's going to cost far more to own and operate than the comparable singles.
     
  38. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    Cliff’s notes of the wish list: Turbo not required but acceptable if other considerations work out. No set purchase budget until options are better understood, but yes I would consider the ownership costs of different types in setting the budget to buy each type. Minimum block speed 160 knots (180 preferred) and range of 600nm plus IFR reserve (prefer 1-hour reserve) when carrying a payload of at least 800 lbs (1000 lbs preferred). Operating costs up to the $300/hr neighborhood acceptable, $250 or less preferred.
     
  39. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    My deepest apologies for contributing to the problem. I promise not to buy an Aztek, for this or any other reason. Not even as a prank. :)
     
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  40. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    I can agree with that.

    Not anywhere near you, but here are some rentals near Chicago

    http://www.flytea.com/fleetN311JE.html Aztec
    https://www.illinoisaviation.com/product/cessna-421c-1976/ Cessna 421
    https://www.illinoisaviation.com/product/piper-aztec/ Aztec
    https://www.illinoisaviation.com/product/cessna-210m-1978/ 210

    I have a room if you want to huddle down for a bit out here.