Pete Nickerson

Here’s what an online site has to say about one Pete Nickerson:

Pete…is a co-founder and director of Growth-Link Overseas Company, a Hong Kong based firm founded in 1988. The company’s main activity is investment in and operation of a series of footwear factories located in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and most recently India. These factories are engaged in the supply of name-brand footwear and athletic equipment.

He sits on the boards of publicly traded companies in the U.S. and Taiwan, and a handful of for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises.

Since 1979 Pete and his family have resided in Taiwan, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Portland. He is a 1979 graduate of the University of Oregon, B.A. Political Science and is a Chinese speaker. Married 27 years, with four children, he’s a flying and sailing enthusiast, enjoys reading history, and collecting antique books about Asia.

Obviously a successful and interesting guy, but the brief profile is far too brief about one very important part of Pete Nickerson’s life. Some of best times a guy can have are sitting in the cockpit just chatting, running the machine efficiently, he says. He gets to enjoy those moments in a variety of cockpits, including a Stearman he co-owns, a DC-3 he is restoring, and a succession of piston and turboprop Commanders he has owned and flown.

Commanders have been a Nickerson family tradition. His father owned two different 500-series piston Commanders that he used in his aircraft and equipment leasing and financing business, and Pete has owned three himself a Shrike, a 690B, and his current ride, a 695B 1000. The 1000 is the One, he says.

Pete soloed when he was 18, but left flying for about 20 years to concentrate on his family and building a business. In 1997 he returned to the cockpit.

Plane The first airplane he bought was a Cessna Skylane, which he flew for about four years before looking to upgrade to a twin. His research included a discussion with Swede and Norm Ralston at Aero Air in nearby Hillsboro, Oregon, whom he had known from the days when his father was flying Commanders. Not surprisingly, the Ralstons talked up the virtues of a Commander, especially single-engine performance.

I had to agree with them, Pete says. Moving up to a turbine was beyond his reach at the time, so Aero Air found him a nice Shrike.

As his business took off over the next few years, Pete felt he finally had the time and the confidence as a pilot to move up to a turboprop. Again he turned to Aero Air, and bought a 690B. It was absolutely the right decision, he says. I love the turbine Commander. I’m six feet five inches, and I can sit up straight in the pilot’s seat. And I like the fact that I can reach around and control the cabin door without having to rely on someone else to do it. I like the cockpit flow, and the high wing for visibility down and around the airplane.

Pete flew the 690B until business demands led to what he thought would be a long stint living overseas, so he sold the airplane. Two years later, however, he and his family were back in Oregon. I thought, I can live without an airplane, but that lasted only about three months before I got the hankering again, he says.

Pete thought another Commander would be effective treatment for that hankering, but he also evaluated King Airs. I looked at the B200 and C90, he says. The 200 is nice, but it was outside my budget. I could afford the 90, but just couldn’t see buying it when compared to a Commander. It’s 30 percent slower, and doesn’t have the visibility. I just didn’t see the advantage.

He went back to see Norm Ralston, who argued for a 695B 1000, the last Commander model produced. He had to wait quite awhile before one became available, but eventually Pete found himself the owner of a late-model 1000.

I just found all the things I like in the Commander, and not in the King Air, he says. The seat position, the cockpit flow, and the visibility. My mother and father were alive at the time and flew with me, and they loved the one step up into the cabin.

The other advantage of the Commander is cost, in a number of aspects. The purchase price was significantly less than a King Air, and the operating cost has been less as well.

Pete’s use of the Commander is strictly personal. I fly to British Columbia to fish for trout, to Mexico for game fish, to South Dakota to hunt uplands game birds, and to follow Oregon Ducks football. My wife is from Columbus, Ohio, and is a Buckeyes fan, so we go to Ohio a couple of times a year, too.

He also volunteers his airplane and piloting services to Veterans Airlift, which arranges flights for veterans to visit medical clinics and family. His longest Veterans Airlift trip so far was from Manhattan, Kansas, to San Jose, California. He was able to do it nonstop in the 1000.

Along with the Commander, Pete co-owns a 1943 Stearman that he recently restored. My near-term project is to take a tour of all the lighthouses that remain on the west coast, he says. They are well known and easy to find, with airports around them. I’d like to do the tour in the Stearman.

He also has a DC-3A, and a dream. Some years ago he was flying from Los Angeles to Portland in the 690B with his long-time instructor, John Fjellman. John said that when he was running an FBO he thought about having a DC-3 in the LA basin to do tourist flights. I told him I had been thinking about flying a DC-3 to China and India. A plan was born.

It took Pete a couple years, but he eventually bought a DC-3 and started what has become a six-year restoration effort. The interior is the last major task remaining. My dream is to get a group of guys together, maybe make a six-month journey up the west coast of the U.S., then over to the east coast of Asia and on to India, with appropriate off-course trips, of course. He hopes to launch on his dream trip within the next five years.

Pete says he tries to find reasons and excuses to go fly, and it’s apparent that he is highly successful at it. The Stearman and DC-3 fulfill the low, slow, romantic-glow side of the flying habit but, otherwise, the Commander is all I need, he says. I don’t think I’m a jet guy. There are times when I’d like to be higher and go faster, but when the trip is done and I look at the bills I think, Gee, it sure is nice that this is half what a jet would cost. So I’m looking at this Commander as the airplane I will always have.

Will Shinew

When Will Shinew joined SimCom Training Centers about a year ago, the Orlando-based company was embarking on an ambitious expansion. SimCom had recently acquired PrestoSIM, which conducted simulator-based legacy Citation and King Air 200 training in a facility near DFW International Airport. Then the big move: SimCom bought 14 simulators and training programs from FlightSafety International, including two motion-based Twin Commander simulators and associated training programs. The Commander simulators were relocated to SimCom’s new DFW location, and Shinew, who has practical experience flying Commanders, was assigned to the new program.

Today Shinew is the lead instructor for the Commander JetProp training program and simulator, and he’s having a ball. I fell in love with Twin Commanders, he said of his experience flying them, and now I’ve fallen in love with the people. They are enthusiastic about their airplanes. I know once you start flying one, you become pretty loyal.

Shinew is one of seven instructors involved in SimCom’s Commander pilot initial and recurrent training at the DFW center. Simulators include a motion-based Dash-10-configured Commander JetProp and motion-based Dash 5-configured 690-series, and a non-motion flight training device (FTD) configured as a 690A with Dash 10T engines. A 180-degree wraparound visual system in the FTD provides realistic motion cues in day, night, and twilight conditions.

The visual motion cues are really outstanding, Shinew says. We have people who swear the simulator is moving.

Commander training is the busiest program at the DFW center, according to Shinew, and has more instructors. With the addition of the former FlightSafety programs and equipment, SIMCOM operates 59 simulators in five training center locations in the United States.

Shinew learned to fly as a teenager, washing airplanes in exchange for flying time. He kept adding to his certificate and ratings count, and eventually landed a job flying auto parts around the country in a Cessna Caravan, King Air 100, and Piper Navajo.

Before turning to professional flying fulltime, Shinew owned his own financial services firm. In the mid-1990s, however, Shinew surrendered to the inevitable. I told my wife that I enjoyed flying, and that’s what I want to do.

Along with the early freight-dog experience, Shinew’s interesting pilot resume lists a stint flying Casa 212 and de Havilland DHC-8 turboprops in Afghanistan and the U.S. for Blackwater Worldwide. He crewed a Cessna Citation 650 based in Smyrna, Tennessee, and before joining SimCom commanded a Kissimmee, Florida-based 690B Commander, for a businessman-owner.

Shinew and his fellow instructors have worked primarily with Commander owner-pilots, but also military and corporate operators. One bit of advice from Shenew to pilots: Don’t rely too heavily on use of the autopilot from initial climb to short final. We try to cure that in the first couple of sim sessions, he says. If the autopilot goes inop, you gotta be able to fly that thing.

For more information about SimCom?s Commander training, see

Chris Kimball


Chris Kimball is proof positive that a fat logbook full of multiengine and turbine experience is not an absolute requirement to move safely and swiftly into a single-pilot Twin Commander cockpit.

Kimball, 26, had just over 600 hours total time and all of 10.5 hours multiengine time when he began flying 690JK, the TPE331-10T-powered 690B owned and operated by Belt Tech, the Washington, Indiana-based, family-owned company where he serves as vice president.

Kimball was flying Belt Tech’s Piper Saratoga when, on his recommendation, the company bought the Commander through Eagle Creek Aviation Services. Kimball completed pilot initial training at FlightSafety International, then flew with Ed Maher, Eagle Creek’s most experienced Twin Commander pilot, to gain proficiency.

He’s on his own now, flying Belt Tech people on business missions, and family on vacation trips to such places as Las Vegas; Sequoia National Park in central California; and “bucket list” destinations like Breckinridge, Colorado, for winter snow and the Caribbean’s St. Maarten for winter sun.

“We love it,” Kimball says of the Commander. “To this point it’s doing everything we wanted it to do—take six adults anywhere, and keep us out of the weather. And it’s done it every time.”

Kimball’s fast track to flights levels flying may not be so surprising given his history. On his 16th birthday he skipped school to make his first solo flight. He did it in his father’s Piper Warrior. Over the next year he continued his flight training, and he also began an apprenticeship as a mechanic at a local aircraft maintenance shop. On his 17th birthday he took his Private Pilot check ride, and a little more than a year later earned his Airframe & Powerplant certificate. Fast-tracking once again.

Kimball stayed with the maintenance shop for the next couple of years, he got married, and he quit flying. Not because he lost interest, however: “I didn’t want to do it if I couldn’t do it right,” he says. “There were too many guys at the airport who flew just enough to get themselves in trouble.”

He eventually joined his father-in-law’s company, Belt Tech, which services and maintains heavy-duty conveyer systems for power plants, mining companies, and other industrial operators. Like other Belt Tech employees, Kimball was making long, overnight drives to visit branch offices and customers. That led to a conversation. “We got to talking,” Kimball says. “If we had an airplane we could be there and back the same day. We could make better use of our time.”

Kimball got current, Belt Tech bought a Piper Saratoga, and he became the company pilot. Within a few months it became clear that cross-country business travel was nearly impossible without an instrument rating. “We couldn’t fly much between November and March,” he says. One experience in particular convinced him to get the IFR rating. “I had a business trip with the sales manager and one other guy, and some weather came in. We were sitting there waiting for it to lift. The sales manager got a call—his 4-year old daughter had been in an accident, and they were transporting her to the hospital because she had a broken neck. We were stuck in Missouri because of a low-pressure system, yet 15 miles to the east it was VFR. I said, ‘I can’t go guys. I can’t do it.’ The sales manager rented a car and drove home.”

While he was waiting for the weather to improve Kimball went online and booked an accelerated IFR training course. A few weeks later he flew the Saratoga to Beaufort, South Carolina, and fast-tracked the rating.

With the capability afforded by Kimball’s IFR rating, Belt Tech increasingly relied on the Saratoga to support its business. By the end of 2012 he had spent nearly 400 hours flying the big single. Flying saved hours of driving and nights spent in hotels. The airplane had a new engine and good avionics and fulfilled the mission requirements well enough, save for one critical redundant system—a second engine. The logical solution was to upgrade.

In the summer of 2011 Kimball earned his Commercial certificate with multiengine rating in Winter Haven, Florida. His father-in-law met him there and, following the fast-track plan, spent an intensive two weeks earning his Private pilot’s certificate.

Kimball surveyed the field for a piston twin that could deliver the desired range, payload, performance, and reliability at a fair price. Value was a primary criterion, but Kimball was disappointed with what he saw. The search expanded to encompass turboprops—or, more accurately, some turboprops.

“To be honest, I never really liked Commanders,” Kimball admits. “I had no idea what they were. I knew King Airs and Conquests. One day I said it’s not really fair to say I don’t like them. It was a preconceived notion. I just didn’t know enough about them. So I added Commanders to my research.”

It opened his eyes. “They are not much smaller on the inside compared to a King Air 90, they just don’t stand as tall on the ramp” Kimball says. The clincher was Aviation Consumer performance comparisons. “If you compare the performance of a Commander with a King Air, there is no comparison,” he says. “The Commander is a pretty awesome airplane. As a pilot-owner I’m going to take performance over the nostalgia of a King Air.”

Kimball was convinced. “It was nice to learn about Commanders and appreciate what they have to offer. It’s a cool airplane. Nice lines, too, like an Aerostar, which also is a super performer. I had preconceived ideas until I educated myself, and realized the Commander has a lot more to offer than anything else out there.”

Prior to purchasing 690JK, Eagle Creek’s Jim Worrell offered Belt Tech a demo flight with Maher in Eagle Creek’s Commander 1000. “We were getting ready for the flight, and I told Ed I would sit right seat and follow along,” Kimball says. “He shoved me in the left seat and told me, ‘It flies like a big Apache,’ which is what I used for my multiengine rating.” The demo flights were convincing, and Worrell spent a month finding a nice 690B for Belt Tech.

After his simulator training Kimball went back to Eagle Creek to fly with Maher, as required by the insurance underwriter. Maher was impressed with Kimball’s skills, and fast-tracked him to Commander solo status.

The transition was easier than going from the Piper Warrior to the Saratoga, according to Kimball. “Power management is easier,” he says. “No shock cooling, no adjusting the mixture. Just set the power and forget it.” Maintaining strict directional control on the initial takeoff run, staying ahead of the airplane’s speed and climb performance, and achieving consistently smooth landings all took some attention at the beginning, but the usual bugaboo of Commander novices—ground handling—was not an issue. “I had a bit of tailwheel time, which evidently helps transitioning Commander pilots anticipate steering commands,” Kimball says. “The steering system is an awesome part of the airplane. I love it!”

Being the pilot, a member of the Belt Tech family and a certificated mechanic gives Kimball a well-rounded perspective as aircraft manager. “Knowing the family is on the airplane means we want to spare no expense in maintaining it,” he says, “but on the business side we say let’s be practical about it.” Meanwhile, his maintenance experience allows him to talk the talk with Eagle Creek technicians. “I ask their opinion, and they have been very balanced. The guys in the shop, especially John Fogle, are great, and I feel like their service is exceptional.”

Along with giving the airplane credit for his quick climb into turbine-powered business flying, Kimball also salutes the instruction he received at crucial junctures in his training. His primary instructor, Steve Johnson, was second on American Airlines’ seniority list when he retired, and his instrument instructor, Doug Carmody, was a retired USAirways check pilot. And then there was Maher to help with the launch into the turbine world.

“I feel I have been extremely lucky to have had veteran instructors with real-world experience who would tell me exactly like it is when I messed up. That’s had a big impact on how I fly.”

Using airplanes, and especially the Commander, has had a big impact on how Belt Tech does business. “We need to be face-to-face with our branch managers, our employees, and our customers,” Kimball says. “That’s where an airplane has helped. We could do trips by driving, but it would be one a week. Now we can run our business like we want and still have time for family.

“The expense of operating the airplane is negligible when you consider the time we can spend with our employees and our customers, and still have our people at home at night. We’ve built our company culture around that.”

The Faulkners


Twin Commanders are rightfully known as pilots’ airplanes. They check all the boxes that are important to pilots—outstanding performance, fun-to-fly handling, country strip to Chicago O’Hare flexibility, and a commanding presence on the ramp. But how about Commander owners who are not pilots? What do they see in their airplane compared with any number of other turboprops or jets they may have considered?

Greg and Kathy Faulkner are such owners. Greg has always loved airplanes, and even took flight lessons, soloing in a Cessna 172. But between flying, family, and careers—they have four school-age children, Greg is an institutional bond salesman and trader, Kathy is a Harvard MBA-educated CPA, and they own real estate and other investments—something had to give. “When work slows down I probably will get back into flying,” Greg says, “but I knew it wasn’t smart to try and do everything.”

One priority that they cannot put aside is making the best use of their time. “I’ve always been interested in getting places fast,” Greg says. “We’re always in a hurry.” That’s why he and Kathy look at airplanes as “massive” time savers. Family time is very important to them, and when it comes to his work, Greg says that “As a commissioned salesman I only get paid when I’m at my desk,” so it’s important that he make the most efficient use of his travel time. An airplane enables him to see clients in other cities during the day, and be back home that night so he can be at his trading desk first thing in the morning.


The Faulkners began chartering and leasing piston twins and jets in 1996 for both business and personal trips. The personal flights included day trips around Florida—they live in Naples in Southwest Florida—to attend daughter Brooke’s soccer matches. But they grew increasingly uncomfortable with the thought of putting their family in ancient piston-powered airplanes. They also were dissatisfied with the hassle and expense of chartering jets, most of which had to be repositioned to Naples from the Ft. Lauderdale-Miami area, and of seeing a different pilot in the cockpit on each flight. So, they began looking around for an airplane to call their own.

One hard-and-fast requirement was that it have turbine power. And, given the Faulkners’ are-we-there-yet nature, it had to be fast. Also, since this would be their first airplane, they wanted to approach it conservatively. “We’re trying to learn about aviation, get our feet wet,” Greg says. That meant operating cost was a primary consideration, which pretty much eliminated a jet from the short list.

A pilot friend told Greg that he should look at Twin Commanders. “He said they can do a lot, for a lot less than a jet.” The Faulkners also looked at King Airs, but concluded they did not compare favorably with Commanders. “The King Air 200 is more expensive and doesn’t have the same performance,” says Greg, “and the 350 is even more expensive, and you’re not getting there any faster.”

The search for the right airplane led them just down the street to Naples Jet Center and Bruce Byerly, who found a low-time, one-owner Commander 690D (Model 900) on the market. The airplane had all the attributes that appealed to the Faulkners. The JetProp 900, built by Gulfstream Aerospace, which had inherited Commander production when it acquired Rockwell International in 1981, was the first Commander to have 6.7 psi pressurization for a lower cabin altitude when cruising in the flight levels. It also has an extended passenger cabin with a wide, slightly curved belted potty seat in a rear compartment that can be curtained off. “Most comfortable seat in the house,” Greg says. And with seating for seven plus pilot, the cabin easily accommodates the entire Faulkner family plus a friend.


The previous owner had upgraded the engines to Dash 10T configuration, so the airplane is capable of cruising at 300 knots true airspeed at altitude (25,000 to 27,000 feet MSL) in the winter when ambient temperatures are colder. Although Greg would like to be going Mach 2, especially on longer flights, he appreciates the fuel efficiency of the Honeywell engines. On a typical trip the two engines combined use about 85 gallons the first hour, and about 75 gallons every hour after that—less when cruising above FL250.

About 180 lbs of wiring came out and was replaced witha Garmin G600 with electronic Primary Flight and Multifunction displays, and a Garmin GTN750/650 package with integrated audio panel.

The Faulkners also appreciate the airplane’s stamina—about 5 hours 30 minutes endurance with 45-minute reserves—thanks to the 900’s long wing and long-range, 474-gallon fuel capacity. They have taken advantage of it, too, on non-stop trips from Naples to the British Virgin Islands, Boston, Chicago, and Kansas City.

It’s not just about going long and fast, however. The Commander is efficient on short hops as well. Brooke still plays in the traveling soccer league, as does their son, Gregory. What would be five-hours-plus drive times to soccer venues within Florida turn into one-hour round-trip flights in the Commander. That means Greg has time on weekend mornings to get some tennis in—he was a nationally ranked college player and captain of his team—and still go to the soccer games without it costing a small fortune. They are back home by mid-afternoon. Having the Commander available means more time spent with all of the family.

Along with the short, in-state missions that can be done quickly, efficiently, at reasonable cost, and with a lot more peace of mind than in a piston-powered airplane, it’s also been good for those special family vacations to more distant destinations. They recently planned a weekend family trip to Chicago to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field, explore some museums, and do some shopping. The Cubs game started at 1:20 p.m. on a Friday, so as soon as Brooke finished an Advanced Placement math test at school that morning, the family picked her up and drove to Naples Municipal Airport. The Commander was on the ramp ready to go, and within minutes was taking off with all aboard.

About 3 ½ hours later the family climbed out of the Commander at Chicago Midway Airport and into a car that took them directly to Wrigley for the start of the game. The driver then dropped off their luggage at a downtown hotel.

Not long after purchasing the 900 Greg and Kathy worked with Naples Jet Center to design a new panel. The airplane is flown single pilot, and the Faulkners wanted that pilot to have all of the tools. Out came the electromechanical ADI and HSI, the FMS, a Foster loran, and a traffic display, and in their places went a Garmin G600 with electronic Primary Flight and Multifunction displays, and a Garmin GTN750/650 package with integrated audio panel. Greg says that one of the main reasons they bought the Commander was to fly the family, so they were “willing to spend money on safety.”


And comfort, too. The interior is all new—carpeting, headliner, side panels, and chocolate-colored leather seats with baseball-style stitching. The passenger cabin is equipped with three AC outlets, and on a typical family trip there are laptops everywhere for doing homework, watching movies, and listening to music. The Faulkners opted not to install video monitors, a DVD player, and XM music because everyone in the family likes to watch and listen to something different that they have downloaded from iTunes or other sites.

Naples Jet Center, which is an authorized Twin Commander service center, manages the Commander for the Faulkners. “If we can have the airplane managed and maintained by one outfit, that’s good,” Greg says, especially a facility with the depth of Twin Commander experience that resides in Naples Jet Center technicians.

They also like the concierge service. “We’re not looking to make aviation a career, we’re looking to make it easy,” Greg says. And quick. “We want to arrive at the airport and have the airplane on the ramp ready to go with the cabin cooled down. When we get back the car is waiting for us on the ramp and we’re out of there. We’re not looking to spend time around airports.” That’s understandable for a family that’s always in a hurry.

Larry Allen


Airplanes have helped power the arc of Larry Allen’s career from a young computer services technician to the owner and operator of a successful computer maintenance firm. That’s not so unusual; business airplanes have been instrumental in the success of countless individuals and companies. What is different about Allen’s story is that for the last three-plus decades his company’s essential transportation tool has been the same airplane—a Twin Commander JetProp 980.

Allen picked up a new 980 from the factory in Bethany, Oklahoma, in May 1980, and immediately put it into intensive service shuttling his technicians around the country to fix customers’ mainframe computers. At one point it was flying an around-the-clock schedule, with three pilots on rotation to cover the 24 hours. The travel schedule today is less hectic, but Allen’s allegiance to the airplane that has served him all these years remains strong, and for very simple profit-and-loss reasons.

"I’m a big cheerleader for the Commander series, and the 980 in particular, because of the numbers and the maintenance," Allen says. "I talk to King Air owners, and owners of other turboprops, and we beat them by big margins."

There was a time when, because of the high utilization and the long trip lengths the airplane was flying, Allen considered making a change. "After we bought the 980 we looked at upgrading to a larger aircraft, a jet. Our average trip time was more than 2.5 hours, so a jet was something to look at," he explains. "But it didn’t make sense from a cost and utility standpoint. We were going into a lot of small airports, short fields, even some farm strips—some customers, like a grower in south Florida, had short strips on their farms—and we could take the Commander into those.

"We were giving up a little on flying time compared to a jet, which was a cost, but when you consider the cost of maintaining the engines and airframe, we beat everything else hands down. Nothing came close."

Allen was a young computer technician when he went to work for RCA doing field-service work. His boss at the time was Larry Morse, who also was a pilot and instructor. Allen developed an interest in flying, and Morse took him on as a student. A few years later when RCA sold its computer services business, Morse transferred to another division within RCA while Allen went elsewhere.

In 1973 Allen founded Allen Myland, Inc. to service IBM mainframe computers. Obviously, a problem with its central computer was a big problem for a company, and Allen Myland was in the business of quickly correcting the problem. "We had found a niche in the market," Allens says.

This meant launching on a moment’s notice to the site of the troubled mainframe. "We traveled throughout the U.S and moved hardware for companies. We needed transportation, and back then the airlines are not what they are today," he says. Allen understood that a company airplane was absolutely essential to the growth and success of his new venture.

He started with single-engine aircraft, flying VFR because that’s all he was qualified for as a pilot. Then he earned his IFR rating, and the traveling increased. I was flying 400 to 600 hours a year in singles, then light piston twins."

On a trip to Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois, he met Bob and Larry Byerly, who ran the local FBO, Byerly Aviation. Then, as now, Byerly was an authorized Twin Commander sales and service center. Allen remembers Larry Byerly remarking appreciatively about the Piper Navajo that Allen was flying at the time, then suggesting that he might want to consider a faster, more capable airplane, perhaps something like a twin-turboprop Commander 690. Allen agreed to a demo flight, and was convinced.

After researching other turboprop options and being "quite impressed with the numbers for the Commander," Allen bought a used 690. He also made a phone call—to his old boss, Tom Morse.

"He called me one night and said he had bought a 690 in Peoria, and now he needed help flying it," Morse remembers. "He said he was looking for someone who works on computers and knows how to fly. I told him I was teaching flying and enjoying it, and I wouldn’t enjoy getting calls late at night and on weekends."

Allen persisted. "He has a great personality," Morse says of Allen. "This guy is incredible, and he convinced me. I said I’d fly for him for 6 months, he said 12 months, but it turned out to be 32 years."

Allen Myland operated the 690 for four years. "We were flying a lot, and we needed more capability," Allen says, "so we ordered a new one, a 980. We went to the factory to watch it being built."

Over the years the airplane has had several major updates including paint, interior, a switch to an Enviro Systems air cycle machine, and several major panel makeovers. The latest—a Garmin G600 retrofit. "If you saw the airplane now you’d say it had just come out of the showroom," Morse says.

All of the upgrades, as well as all maintenance and inspections, have been performed by Winner Aviation. Winner’s location at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in eastern Ohio is convenient to the airplane’s base at Philadelphia International (Allen Myland is based in Broomall, Pennsylvania, just west of downtown Philadelphia), but Allen says the relationship goes far beyond proximity. "Their understanding of the engine and the aircraft," and their attention to cost control is an appealing balance, he says.

Morse, who has retired from flying the airplane but still manages the maintenance, also is a fan of Winner. "The personnel is the reason we stay with them," he says. "That’s the whole key—who is in that shop. Really, it’s the crew that makes the difference. They are a great bunch of people. After 32 years they have the ultimate insight of what’s going on in there."

Allen Myland’s business model has evolved from maintaining IBM mainframe computers to providing customers with customized data storage maintenance services. Because the work is more of a consulting nature than replacing hardware on site, the travel need is much reduced. Allen still flies it himself to call on customers, and occasionally for more personal pursuits such as getaway trips to the Florida Keys.

Now into his fourth decade of operating the 980, Allen apparently has no plans to do things differently. He’s anticipating taking the engines to overhaul next year.