Refurb of the Month: Frank Dorrin’s Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche


When Piper replaced the Apache with the Twin Comanche in the early 1960s, the idea was to create “everyman’s twin” with the relative safety of a twin but with approachable sticker price and operation costs of a big single.

The persistence of loyalty to the peppy and comfy airplane is exemplified by Frank Dorrin’s devotion to his project plane.

“I purchased this airplane in 2009 and have been working on it since then. I absolutely love it,” he said.Frank’s Twin Comanche, like many of its vintage, wasn’t perfect when he got it and he’s replaced the fuel bladders, overhauled the landing gear and props and replaced a flap skin.

With the nuts and bolts taken care of, Frank took stock of what he wanted in an airplane and made some tastefully practical updates, including a new leather interior (by Airtex) and some 21st century augmentation to the 50-year-old panel.

“I’m most proud of the panel, which is incredibly functional,” he said. Specifically:

  • WAAS to the 530
  • Aspen EFD1000
  • Push-to-talk both sides
  • PMA Engineering Intercom
  • Garmin 496 for the backup GPS and particularly XM Weathe
  • Overhauled most of the gauge
  • Overhauled autopilo
  • Added a glideslope

There’s also a set of nice bright strobes and some LED landing lights.

And as for Piper’s original value proposition? “Did I mention it does 166kts on 16gph (15.8 or so)?” For those keeping track that’s just about as fast and about a gallon less per hour than your average “modern” high-performance single going for about $700,000 and it goes a lot faster than one of those when one of its engines quits.

If you’d like to enter your airplane in AVweb‘s “Refurb of the Month,” send us some photos and a short description of what you’ve done.