Rocky Mountain High
Eliot Brown's Grand Renaissance 840 reflects his desire to operate with a generous safety margin in terms of performance and reliability.
Like many aircraft owners, Eliot keeps a few of his favorite things in his hangar. The Carrera C4S is a nice reminder of the Porsche dealership he recently sold to Japanese investors. It's parked next to another very cool set of airport wheels, a restored, cream- and brown-painted '35 Chevy pickup truck. A Harley-Davidson, stands behind the sports car and the retro truck. The small but exotic collection speaks to the owner's lifelong love of style, and mechanical grace in vehicles. Those interests also explain the presence of the fourth vehicle in Eliot's hangar: a brand-new Grand Renaissance Gulfstream 840 Twin Commander Jetprop.
Geography has played a role in Eliot's choice of airplanes. His home airport serves the little southwestern Colorado mining town-turned-ski-retreat of Telluride. Some half-jokingly refer to the airport as the USS Telluride because the runway extends from one end of a mesa to the other, and just beyond each runway threshold the mesa drops off in a precipitous slope. On approach it's easy to imagine that you're landing on a 6,870-foot-long carrier deck. That's a pretty big aircraft carrier, until you consider the airport's 9,078-feet MSL elevation, which is several thousand feet lower than some surrounding craggy Rocky Mountain peaks.
Small wonder, then, that when Eliot went hunting for a personal airplane, he put a premium on all-around performance-takeoff, climb, single-engine and stopping performance. His TPE331-10T-powered Twin Commander provides it. "It's the only airplane in its class that can come out of Telluride fully loaded on one motor," he says with the assurance of someone who has spent his life studying machines with impressive performance resumes. Above all, Eliot's Grand Renaissance 840 reflects his desire to operate with a generous safety margin in terms of performance and reliability.
"I wanted something as close to new as
possible-that was always the dream," he says. "I was beyond a King
Air," and a used Citation meant a much bigger fuel bill with smaller
safety margins for Telluride ops. He narrowed
his focus to a Conquest II and a Gulfstream Twin Commander. "Both are
pilots' airplanes with good performance," he explains, but his
experience flying a 690B Commander meant there was really no decision
Not just any Twin Commander, however. but a Gulfstream Twin Commander Grand Renaissance, in which select authorized Twin Commander service centers rebuild and re-engine aircraft according to rigid factory specifications and audits. The airplane is stripped to the bare airframe for a thorough inspection and compliance with all outstanding service bulletins. All major systems on the airplane are overhauled or replaced, and the engines upgraded to TPE331-10T configuration. Optional customer-specified equipment is installed, including new avionics and cabin entertainment systems. The airplane is given a new interior and exterior paint, and is delivered with extended airframe and engine warranties.
Brown was interested and contacted Bruce Byerly. According to Bruce Byerly of the Naples Jet Center, Brown had certain specific requirements that pointed to an 840. He wanted the kind of long-range capability inherent in the Model 900 and 1000 Twin Commanders, but with the rear couch and panoramic windows of the 690-series airframes. The 840's relatively lighter weight also gives it an Eliot Brown-style performance edge, especially when combined with the high-altitude power of Dash 10T engines. The answer to the range requirement was to install a Twin Commander Aircraft Corporation long-range fuel kit that adds nearly 50 gallons of usable fuel. The Grand Renaissance restoration process would fulfill Brown's remaining requirements for his dream airplane-the look, feel, and reliability of new. Byerly did the Grand Renaissance airframe and Dash 10T engine conversion during the summer of 2000.
The Browns liked the taupe shading of Maya, their Portuguese Water Dog's coat, so that became the guiding principle-pick interior (left) and exterior color schemes that complemented Maya.
For his part, Brown tweaked Bruce Byerly's design for the exterior striping by moving the N-numbers up to the vertical fin. It's a nice touch that makes for a clean, uncluttered fuselage aft of the cabin.
The active involvement of the Browns in the selection, purchase and completion of the Grand Renaissance 840 resulted in a superlative airplane. Bruce Byerly concurs. "We worked hard," he says. "With our experience we knew what it would realistically take to do the project. We wanted to have clear communications from the start so that they would get the airplane they wanted. They were involved in the process, and we were able to deliver to their standards."
The Browns say they are more than pleased, both with the process and the product. "Byerly's level of quality was really appreciated," says Brown. The airplane is everything we expected, and more."
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