Roy Wilbanks has been cruising a little faster these days than he typically flies in the Piper J-3 Cub he co-owns. That's because he's started flight lessons in his Twin Comanche - AOPA's 2004 Sweepstakes grand prize. What does he think so far?
"I love that flying machine," Wilbanks said.
Almost two months after AOPA President Phil Boyer surprised the 12-year AOPA member with the news during the South Carolina Aviation Association's annual hall of fame banquet in Myrtle Beach, Wilbanks has racked up more than eight hours of multi training.
But the newness of the Twin Comanche hasn't worn off yet. When it's parked outside, people still walk around the aircraft watching its accent stripes (done in DuPont's ChromaLusion ® color-shifting paint) change with every step. Wilbanks admitted that he still does that himself.
Wilbanks has spent much of the past two months studying multi training, fielding congratulatory phone calls, and turning away hopeful buyers of the better-than-new 1965 Piper Twin Comanche. That's right, Wilbanks has been turning away offers to buy the aircraft - he said he would like to keep it for a couple of years if possible.
He plans to take up the Comanche Flyer Foundation - the educational arm of the International Comanche Society - on its offer to pay for type-specific training in the aircraft with Larry Larkin, an experienced instructor in Comanche aircraft.
The foundation has set aside $1,000 for the training but will revise the budget if more is needed, according to Comanche Flyer Foundation President Harley McGatha.
"I'm looking forward to that training with the best Comanche instructor in the world, Mr. Larry Larkin," Wilbanks wrote in an update to AOPA on his progress. "It was extremely generous of them to provide that training for me. To become a better pilot we all need more training, and I will gladly accept any help I can get."
The International Comanche Society donated two years of membership to go with the aircraft. (If the Comanche is sold, membership in the society will go to the new owner for the remainder of the two years.)
Wilbanks also plans to take a two-day, hands-on ground school training course provided by Avionics Training Unlimited, Inc., to learn how to use the Comanche's avionics package to its full potential.
The Comanche is loaded with a full Garmin stack, including a CNX 80 - recently rechristened the GNS 480, which is approved for Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) approaches. WAAS corrects for minute discrepancies, making GPS (global positioning system) signals even more accurate, allowing for completely satellite-based instrument approaches, complete with vertical guidance.
The avionics suite also includes an MX-20 multifunction display that can show a pilot other traffic in the vicinity, providing greater situational awareness.
April 11, 2005