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Classic plane is a rare bird

The rare six-seater Piper Comanche being flown fromEngland to Ballina this month to its new owner, thought to be a memberof the Ballina Aero Club.
The rare six-seater Piper Comanche being flown fromEngland to Ballina this month to its new owner, thought to be a memberof the Ballina Aero Club.

A LIGHT aircraft which may be the only one of its type in the world could have a new home at Ballina.

David Sheppard, of Essex in the UK, has decided to sell his six-seater Piper Comanche, and it isunderstood the mystery buyer is a member of the Ballina Aero Club.

However, it is not known how much was paid for the single-engined plane.

But Mr Sheppard plans to make sure it’s a smooth handover. He will personally deliver the aircraft to Ballina later this month.

It is a 20,000km journey, which will take him and his co-pilot more than two weeks.

But it’s worth it. The plane is ‘a rarity’ and highly sought after by aircraft enthusiasts, Mr Sheppard told Essex newspaper, the DailyGazette.

“I don’t think you’ll find another one like it in the world. It is probably the most highly modified one you’ve ever come across,” he told the newspaper.

“I have enjoyed it and have got it out of my system and want to pass it on to someone else now.”

The epic journey to Australia will start on January 18.

Mr Sheppard has spent more than a month planning the trip.

“Our route takes us from Eng-land over France and Italy direct to Split, in Croatia,” he told The Northern Star.

“Then Luxor in Egypt, Muscat in Oman, Karachi in Pakistan, Ahmedabad in India, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand, Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia, then into Australia at Darwin via Kupang.

“After clearing customs in Darwin, it’s on to Mount Isa then Ballina.

“It’s about 12,500 miles (20,000km), which will be about 62 hours flying time.

“We intend to carry a spot tracker, so our friends can see where in the world we are at any one time, and check our progress by internet.”

Mr Sheppard’s Piper Comanche has seven fuel tanks and has a range of more than 3000km.

An experienced pilot, he said he had no concerns about flying the plane such a long distance.

The sale of the aircraft came about through contacts Mr Sheppard has as chairman of the European branch of the International Comanche Society.

Piper Comanches were built by the American-based Piper Aircraft Company between 1957 and 1972. Almost 5000 were sold around the world during that time.



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