Some Thoughts On Flying Twin Comanches
1. This is one of the best small airplanes ever built and will perform beautifully in a variety of circumstances.

2. Unlike many planes, it performs pretty much like the numbers in the manuals.

3. Because Comanches run so well, you get lulled into believing that nothing can go wrong. Preventative maintenance and a little TLC go a long way toward making these planes fly forever.

4. Watch for little things. Many times I have neglected some small sound or some oil spot only to have the real problem show up days or weeks later in the form of a gasket or seal seriously leaking or a part breaking that might have been avoided if I had looked harder. If you see anything in the bottom of the engine cowlings beside a few drops of oil, it warrants looking at. If you see a star washer or a nut, then you should pull the cowling and find out what it is off of. I found a star washer once but no nut and it was off of one of the exhaust manifolds. The manifold was still being held in place by the other nut, but it was allowing some “blow-by” to eat at the gasket.

5. On trips, I carry with me the names and phone numbers of my Comanche brain trust: my mechanics, and the various shops that repair alternators, exhaust stacks, cylinders, etc. More than once a simple phone call has solved a problem when I have been on the road. In the last 14 years I have had 4 problems that were “show stoppers” with the Twin Comanche. Once in Alaska I needed an exhaust gasket (see above) and a nut and star washer for my exhaust manifold. Luckily, the mechanic on the small field there had just what I needed. Once I had a broken exhaust manifold and had to have the replacement over-nighted to me. This was made much easier by having the number of the company that I have dealt with in the past. My biggest problem on the road to date was breaking an exhaust valve somewhere over Kentucky and landing at Bowman field in Louisville on one engine. After letting the engine cool down I pulled the top plugs and did an inspection of the cylinders with a flashlight. I already knew I had no compression in cylinder #3 by turning the prop with my finger over the plug hole. With the light I could see bits of metal imbedded in the top of the piston. A phone call to my mechanic in Texas confirmed probably what would have to be done. As it turned out, it was mid-August and he and two of his side-kicks were looking for any excuse to leave Texas. They bought a built-up cylinder the next morning and flew their Seneca up to KY to change the cylinder on my plane. It took them about 4 hours, and after careful inspection and run-up we all flew home together. This episode prompted me to start carrying a small number of vital tools and to get my A&P license. A year ago at a high elevation field in Colorado I noted a mildy rough right engine which turned out to be a stuck exhaust valve. We ended up performing the "rope trick" and reaming the valve guide on the ramp. Since there was not a valve spring compressor, nor a valve reamer within three hours driving distance, it made all the difference in the world having the right tools,

6. Always take some spare parts with you. I take a spare alternator belt, a couple of extra spark plugs, a variety of nuts, screws, washers, cotter keys, and some safety wire and tie wraps. I also take the O rings for rebuilding the brakes and for the landing gear struts. Also some extra brushes for the alternators. When I flew the Atlantic a few years ago and knew I would be going through Goose Bay, maybe Greenland and certainly Iceland, I took an extra fuel pump and starter. I usually carry 4 quarts of oil, a small filler spout, some jumper cables, a roll of paper towels, some window cleaner, and a prop chain. In my small canvas bag tool kit I carry the minimum tools to do most repairs. I have pliers, socket wrenches, screw drivers, pair of medical hemostats, Allen head wrenches, a mirror, Swiss army knife, tire gauge, a flashlight- I carry three flashlights in the plane- two up front and one in the bag. I carry also a pair of plastic chocks, some tie-down straps, a small container of hand cleaner(Goop), some light canvas gloves, a small first aid kit, the Kennon heat shields, and a well hidden extra key to the plane and prop lock. In addition we carry some extra AA batteries for the flashlights and handheld transceiver and 9 volts batteries for the noise canceling headsets. (See My Comanche Travel Tool Kit Page for a more complete list)

7. We always carry two little red relief bottles, one with a female adaptor. But in 23 years of flying together I have yet to see my wife even contemplate using it. One caveat about the little red bottles- they come with a cardboard gasket in the top. Whoever thought of that one didn’t think about what the bottle would carry and the fact that the cardboard gasket would get wet and then seep urine. Go to the hardware store and buy a good neoprene or rubber gasket- take the lid with you to size it. You can then return home and fill the bottle with water at the sink and screw the lid on firmly and turn the bottle upside down and shake it and it will not leak.

8. I have laminated checklists of all these items so that I can see at a glance when I need to replace something or if something is missing.

9. If we are going to be flying over rough or sparsely populated terrain or water I carry survival gear and, depending on the trip, it varies in content. (See Survival Gear Lists.)