"Suzanne was pretty skeptical about [the purchase] to start," Turley says of his wife, "but then I flew her down to LA for a business meeting, and she sat in back, plugged in her computer and worked the whole way down. And at the end, she said, 'Huh. I could get used to this.'"
Turley still has the C10T in partnership with Barrett, and a Cessna 185 taildragger he bought with his father-in-law (and retired Delta pilot) Jack Chambers. Turley likes the sport of the 185, as well as the fact that he can land it on a 1,600-foot strip he built on his Paso Robles, California, winery — a recent addition to his original Napa Valley property. But the PC-12 is his main business vehicle.
"I've flown it nonstop to Knoxville and Atlanta," he says, "and I've even used it to transport a client's wine cellar to Moab, Utah." That trip, Turley notes, demonstrated that the PC-12 could carry 34 cases of wine — an important metric for a winery owner.
"To do wine-tasting dinners or distributor meetings, I used to have to ship the wine ahead and hope it got there in time, and then fly a day ahead to make sure everything was there and in place," he says. "Now I just load up the wine and people and go. Which is better for the wine, as well as just simpler."
And while he's not generally flying through the Alps, Turley's still impressed with the PC-12's performance. "I routinely land in less than 1,000 feet. It's astonishing to land at Napa Airport and turn off before the second runway starts," he says with a chuckle. "The tower says, 'Are you just showing off?' and I say, 'Thanks for noticing.'"
At the same time, the PC-12 is "a much more capable IFR airplane" than his others.
"It's big, stable, with a well-equipped MFD, Doppler radar and a really good autopilot," Turley notes.
All that equipment, however, didn't prevent him and his father-in-law from running into an embedded thunderstorm that never showed up on the radar, en route home from Turley's daughter's college graduation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this past spring. But that's where the PC-12's strength came into play.
"Jack, who has about 37,000 hours, looked up and just said, 'Hang on!' I didn't have time to warn Suzanne or anything. So I just held on and focused on the attitude indicator. It was an intense, 30-second wild ride, but Jack told me, 'You'll fall apart before the airplane does.'"
Not that Turley needed any more proof that he had the right airplane. "It's been a great plane," he says. "No airplane is cheap to maintain, of course, but I haven't had any problems with it, and I'm told the PC-12 has great access for mechanics. Having it chartered as Part 135 has worked out well too. I've got a guy named Bruce McClean who operates it out of San Carlos Airport, just south of San Francisco."
And while there have been a few surprises, they've been the good kind. "The first time I walked up to it, it seemed like an airliner, it was so big. And I thought, 'Oh, my. What have I gotten myself into?'" Turley says. "I got over that pretty quickly, though, and now the size seems normal to me. But I didn't know you could fly it with eight people and still go a phenomenal distance. With most planes, it's a trade-off between those two.
"It's so much more of an airplane than I ever dreamed," Turley concludes. "I love flying the Pilatus, and everyone loves flying in the Pilatus." Given that it's notoriously hard to please all the people all the time, that's pretty high praise.