By WILLIAM BENNETT
When pilots search for that one special airplane to purchase, they sometimes get stuck in the rut of only looking at Cessnas, Pipers, Beechcraft, Mooney and Cirrus.
All make good and capable planes. But most of the time the SOCATA “Caribbean Series” gets overlooked. Especially by those pilots in the USA who don’t get to see one very often.
The SOCATA Trinidad, Tobago and Tampico have ahead-of-their-time European styling and flair. The planes have such great flight characteristics that almost any pilot can enjoy every flight. They are docile in the stall, almost impossible to load out of weight and balance and rock steady IFR platforms, not to mention easy to land.
But the SOCATA “Caribbean Series” also has true worldwide support.
True, the planes were built in France by the same company that builds the TBM turboprop, but many of the components, from their Lycoming engines to Cleveland brakes, are all American.
Well over 2,000 aircraft were built and most are in use today. They are truly spread worldwide, so only about 500 are in the USA.
That makes for relatively few on the market for sale at any one time.A recent check of SOCATA “Caribbean Series” Trinidad (TB 20 normally aspirated and TB 21 for the turbocharged version, both 250 hp), Tobago (TB 10 180 hp and TB 200 which is 200-hp) and Tampico (TB 9, which is 160 hp), shows only about a dozen for sale.
A lot of pilots find stepping up to a TB 20 Trinidad an easy step up from lower powered aircraft. The TB 9 Tampico has been used by many flight schools as trainers, and the TB 10 Tobago is a great get-there plane, similar to a Piper Archer, but with a touch more style.
The TB 20 Trinidad has the most for sale with the others only having only one or two for sale.
William Bennett is author of the book “Flying the SOCATA Trinidad, Tobago and Tampico.” Originally published in 2012, a new expanded second edition has just been released. It is available on Amazon.com.