"I won it, honey! We don't need the J-3 anymore!"
Those were the words of South Carolina pilot and businessman, Roy Wilbanks, when he called his wife to tell her he had won a beautifully restored and upgraded Piper Twin Comanche.
Each year, a popular General Aviation organization takes an older airplane, and restores it to better-than-new condition. From airframe, to engines, to paint, to interior and avionics, everything is brought up to contemporary standards. The result is an aircraft that typically has a value of close to a quarter of a million dollars. An aircraft that almost any pilot would dream to own. A true "dream machine".
In 2004 it was Roy Wilbanks' lucky year. As a member of this organization he was picked at random to win that year's aircraft, and in 2004 it was a gorgeous 1965 Piper Twin Comanche that was given away!
Along with the aircraft, Roy also received a generous credit for fuel, and extensive multi-engine training and avionics familiarization. Indeed, coming from a somewhat smaller Piper, a J-3 cub, Roy would certainly need this!
Having recently joined DreamFleet in the Spring of 2005, Owen Hewitt needed a project to get him started, and he soon discovered that Roy Wilbanks was his neighbor, in Greenwood, South Carolina. A phone call, a meeting, and Roy agreed to have Owen and DreamFleet immortalize his Twin Comanche in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
While Owen is not (yet) a pilot, he spent many hours flying the Twin Comanche with Roy. So many hours in fact, that's Roy's favorite comment about his new-found friend and co-pilot is, "All he needs is a check ride!".
In November of 2005, Roy and Owen were joined by DreamFleet's Lou Betti, who visited in order to photograph the panel and interior of the aircraft and to record the engine sounds. Lou was amazed when he went flying with Roy, and saw the Twin Comanche, at 60% power burn less fuel than his single engine Piper Dakota does at 75% power!
Roy has put over 100 hours on his Twin Comanche so far, and while he loves flying it, the comment he made to his wife did not turn out to be true. Roy still has the Piper J-3 parked in a nearby hangar, and something tells us that it too will remain in the family and will share flying time with this most-lucky Southern gentleman at the controls!
© 2000-2006 By Louis J. Betti & DreamFleet 2000, all rights