Performance Parts
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Fly With the Eagles!


Have I ever seen an Eagle in flight? Well, not exactly…but one time when Suzanne and I were with another couple, let me call them Tom & Judy S., from Joliet, IL, we may have seen part of one. Tom just climbed to 10,000’ and we were ready for a great flight to Carlsbad, NM, when suddenly a very large “splat” happened, a very large nasty bird waste smearing upward directly in line of sight of the pilot…where else!? Both Tom & I looked at each other.., what at 5:00am would be at this altitude just after such an early breakfast? An unusually large bug, some high-flying bird, perhaps an Eagle…what else. Eagles fly high…who knows!?

I have seen a few spectacular framed Eagles on office walls, an Eagle or two at the zoo and several Eagles on FBO ramps here and there. The “Eagle XP” on the ramp of an unsuspecting FBO operator, a lineman, another Comanche owner, or the tire kicker will often generate a few questions. Usually the question most asked…is this a new Piper Aircraft? At Jones Aviation, Sarasota, Fl. two different people asked the same question. Is this a Comanche 400? Well no, it’s a 1962 Comanche 250 upgraded and improved in 1995/1996. How fast does it fly?…super fast is my response. How fast?…well it really screams along I’ll say (a lot of people look in disbelief when you say something like 200 MPH TAS).

There were no questions in my mind when I finally settled on the Eagle XP cowling and new stainless steel dual exhaust system. Both are STC/PMA approved for the PA24-180/250 and 260 Comanche. For me this set up is a 100% overall performance improvement for the Comanche (Dave Pratt of Aviation Performance Products Inc advertises in The Flyer an average 5-15% increase in overall performance).

With the installation completed on 12/15/95, a test flight was in order. The first thing I noticed was the increased climb performance, improved and even CHT’S and higher in-flight cruise speeds. We had previously gone up for a pre-installation performance documentation flight obtaining temperatures, climb and cruise speeds before the Eagle XP cowling installation upon arrival in FL. The Eagle XP Cowling Installation definitely improved the performance of N7711P overall.

The Eagle XP has it all…. 1) Easy access to the engine with the large upper cowling access doors and three piece cowling. Over the five plus years since the installation of the Eagle XP Cowl I have had the easy access doors opened many times and the cowling has been off and on various times for overhaul, maintenance, annuals, 1000 hour gear AD, & the McCauley 3-Blade Prop installation and new Lord mounts (both standard & newer style), etc, etc. …Everything still looks and fits great. 2) The full-length nose gear doors…this has to greatly reduce drag. They stay on the A/C when cowling is removed, no door motor required, a simple mechanical operation for less maintenance. 3) The augmentors ramped on the lower cowl for improved exit airflow requiring no cowl flaps, less hassle during taxi, takeoffs and landings. 4) Naca scoops on each side of the lower cowl…what an improvement on the airflow! This is near direct airflow into the cabin, and without the old horizontal 250 muffler in front of the firewall…much improved and cooler flying (the previous owners in Alaska might disagree, they liked it hot). But, I still have plenty heat when needed even at altitude/winter flying (sub-zero temps also). 5) Improved engine cooling…. With the Insight 603 at the time, the engine temperatures (EGT & CHT’s) were much improved and very even. I’ve since gone to the Insight 610 digital readout and can now pull engine data, graph and print out the complete flight EGT and CHT temps. The CHT temps are looking great; CHT’s are now running within a 9-30 degree spread, nearly even across. On a recent Florida trip March 2, 2001 the CHT readings were still running within 9 to 30 degree spread over a five hour flight…not bad for the carburated engine.

My first flight (after the post-installation flight) with the Eagle XP cowl was back home to Indiana (UMP) with a flight the next day to Centralia, Ontario, (CYCE) for painting by Brian Kernohan, Centralia Aircraft Refinishing Inc., Phone (519) 228-6301. On a scale of 1-5, Brian gets a big TEN (10) from me for his conscientious workmanship. Terry Stewart (now deceased) of Terry Air on the field there, documented just under 200MPH TAS before and after some mechanical work (before and after flights in the paint shop). I’ve had several flights where using the GPS in flight to compute the TAS has come out with nearly the same speeds. I keep the static system checked every two years as I fly IFR often and expect the airspeed indicator to be fairly accurate.

Now, if I really want N7711P to fly over 200 mph, I’d have to sell her, keep the N # and put it on a Comanche 400 (a 224+ mph flying machine). Oh well, back to reality…and N7711P.

I have most all of the Knots 2U speed mods. Installed prior to painting were aileron, rudder & flap gap seals, wing root fairings and wing fillets, (gear lobe fairings previously installed by prior owner), windshield cowler and slimline strobe. Other mods/changes include “T” configuration panel by Ron & John’s Comanche Service, S-Tec 50, Strikefinder, Pre-Oiler, Ney nozzle, etc., etc. All interior trim panels, seats & carpet removed, refurbished and reinstalled by Leather Tech of New Braunfels, TX. (Future story maybe… “On The Way to Galveston”). Most all maintenance and service has been completed by Montgomery Aviation in Indiana, one trip to Webco for the 1000 hour gear AD, and a couple trips to FL for the cowling and McCauley 3-blade prop.

Bob Meiers at Aviation Performance Products, Inc at Wimauma, FL, is where the Eagle XP Cowling and McCauley installations are performed. They can also take care of any of your Comanche Annual’s or any other maintenance needs.

APP Inc by the way had a great change for the Prop Governor Control Cable…not sure if anyone noticed at the recent ICS convention at Galveston, TX, but it is not visible in the left air inlet…. I’ll let those of you look for the invisible Prop Control Cable assembly at the next Convention or you can look at most Eagle XP Cowling installations with the McCauley 3-Blade prop to see it.

Speaking of conventions, Galveston was kind enough to present N7711P, PA24-250, with Best of Class. Thanks to all fellow Comanche owners there. Also thanks go out to the host tribe for a super Convention and job well done.

I now have a long wanted, same paint scheme replica model, just like my Eagle XP cowling, Stainless Steel Dual Exhaust System, McCauley 3-Blade Prop Comanche 250. N7711P will still be around someday when the rocking chair is the only affordable flyable asset I may have…I already look at it and see it flying (the model that is)…. Of course I prefer to go and pat the real spinner and say a few kind words to her.

Am I happy with N7711P, you betcha! Am I happy with the Eagle XP cowling, you betcha! Everything fits & performs very well together. I enjoy flying with the Eagle’s …the Eagle XP that is.

Check it out for yourself on their web site at www.aviationperformanceproducts.com.

It’s a treat to stay ahead of those Saratoga and Bonanza aircraft. When IFR, talking to center enroute I often estimate the gain on other aircraft as we change frequencies. I had a Saratoga once chase me back to the home base from FL; he never gained on me. He kept getting weaker & weaker as we changed frequencies with the various controllers. I was in the car and leaving when he taxied by…. OH YEA…A REAL TREAT!!!

Keith Flowers, ICS #11345