Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Turning Airpark Dreams Into Lifestyle Realities

The Daher-Socata TBM 850 Elite

Getting Down To Business
Jerry Nancarrow, who has been working in sales for Muncie Aviation for more than 35 years, served as our host, showing us around the maintenance hangars, parts department, avionics shop and other facilities of what's now a 100% employee-owned company.

How does he rate the TBM 850 Elite as an RAA? "The TBM would be a great choice for that, because it'll carry a big load in and out of a short field," Nancarrow said. "That's no problem."

Socata also emphasizes the assistance it provides for pilots transitioning from piston to turbine. Sarsfield estimates 30% of his new customers are graduating from Cirruses, followed by Piper Malibu and Meridian owners.

"If they've got 500 hours in a Cirrus, it's an easy 10- to 20-hour transition," said Sarsfield. Purchase price includes intensive primary and recurrent training.

"We had our business meeting, and now we're going back to go horseback riding," Sarsfield said as we headed to the airplane. Indeed, the Elite proved it could be the magical bridge between the residential airpark lifestyle we imagine and the everyday world we inhabit. Back at BSFA I solicited more opinions from the resident experts.

Living The Dream
"Oh, my gosh, you're making me start to drool now," said Lamar Parker, an ob-gyn who currently flies a Twin Cessna 414A with his wife Marilyn between their home in Winston-Salem and their place here at BSFA. "You get the speed and dependability of a turboprop, you get a great payload, and they are gorgeous," he said of the TBM.

"If you had a business where you could work out of your home and you needed an aircraft for it, the TBM would be perfect," said Keith Petrie, who commutes from Sioux City, Iowa, where he owns a fast-food franchise, to BSFA in an A-36 Bonanza. "It is an awesome airplane. If I won the lottery, I would own a TBM."

But if a TBM is out of your price range, remember that the other part of this magical lifestyle—a home on a residential airpark—is eminently affordable. You don't have to wait for the ideal RAA to start living the dream.


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