October /November

Fall Flight Levels Online Available Now

Some people seem almost destined to become pilots. But not many are destined to become air attack pilots. For Dale Head, a career as a city firefighter morphed perfectly into a second career fighting even bigger fires from above. Head recently started his own air attack company, and when he did, he knew it had to start with a Twin Commander. You can read his story in the fall issue, online now.

Also in this issue… 

  • Find out why Twin Commander Authorized Service Center Legacy Aviation has been able to entice customers from around the world to come to Oklahoma City.
  • Learn what Twin Commander Aircraft created to make the fuel system safer.
  • Discover the inside story of the 520 and 560 development.
  • Follow along as a lucky group of pilots seeks out polar bears and belugas.

And more in the Fall Flight Levels online.

Hagans Inducted into Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame

Matt Hagans, the longtime owner and CEO of Eagle Creek Aviation, was inducted into the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame (INAHOF) at a ceremony in Carmel, Indiana on October 7. Hagans began his aviation career at Cessna in the engineering and flight test department, where he played a vital role in bringing the 414A to market, and helping to certify the 340’s known icing capability. In 1984 he purchased Eagle Creek Aviation and grew it into a world-class aircraft services company and one of the most active Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Centers. Under his leadership Eagle Creek was responsible for developing the STC for the Dash 10 engine upgrade, the Garmin G950 STC, and many other advancements.

In 2021 Hagans merged Eagle Creek with Jet Access to create the tenth-largest Part 135 company in the United States. He currently serves on the company’s board, which has nearly 400 employees, 50 Part 135 and training aircraft, and 75 technicians. The Eagle Creek Aviation brand remains strong and intact as a Jet Access company, and continues to operate at the Eagle Creek Airport near Indianapolis. Hagans has more than 17,000 flight hours in a variety of aircraft, including most of the Twin Commander line.

Pam Moore Promoted to Program Manager

Twin Commander’s Pam Moore has been promoted to Program Manager for the company’s type certificate group. As part of her duties, Moore is responsible for the customer-facing side of the day-to-day operation of the Twin Commander and Metro/Merlin type certificates. This includes managing the strategic growth plans, parts ordering and production, customer service and support, supplier management, and more. “I’m thrilled to continue to serve Twin Commander operators and the service center network in my new capacity,” she said. “My goal is to improve parts turnaround times and get us back to one-day order fulfillment.” Moore previously served as the librarian, handling technical publications and drawings in support of customer service and engineering. She encourages customers to reach out at [email protected] with any issues or questions.

TCA Seeks Input from Fire Operators

The United States Forestry Service has implemented a new rule that requires operators who wish to compete for and operate under USFS contracts to comply with a factory approved enhanced inspection program that is specific to each model of aircraft. Up to this point, Twin Commander Aircraft has developed programs for the 690 and 695 series of aircraft only.

Those operators wishing to work with the USFS in 2024 with a Twin Commander other than a 690 or 695 must contact the factory as soon as possible so engineers can develop a program. Without this enhanced inspection program from Twin Commander, you will not be eligible for a 2024 contact with the Forestry Service.

You must email [email protected] and reference “Forestry Service Contract” and the model of Twin Commander you plan to operate in order to be eligible for the 2024 season. If Twin Commander Aircraft doesn’t hear from you by October 31, they can’t guarantee your eligibility for the 2024 fire season.


Parts Availability Looking Up

Global supply chain constraints and a transition to a new parts vendor have brought big changes and a few challenges to the team at Twin Commander Aircraft recently. But Business Unit Director Bob Wilson said the team is working hard to bring continuous improvements to the situation. “We are meeting with the vendor on a regular basis to ensure they are providing ever-better service to our customers,” he said. In addition to regular in-person meetings with the vendor to ensure better parts distribution, Wilson said the factory is also focused on reducing pricing errors. During the transition a few parts were found to have incorrect pricing, so the staff have been correcting those as they come up. “As consumers, we’re all seeing pricing pressures ease with an increasingly robust supply chain, and I’m confident Twin Commander owners will also continue to see an improvement in the availability of parts and prices, as we work hard to improve the workflow between the factory and the vendor.” Check with your preferred Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center for current parts availability and pricing. The full list of independently owned and operated facilities is online.

FAA Issues AD for All V-Band Clamps

Departing from its historical strategy of issuing airworthiness directives as issues appeared on specific aircraft and engine models, the FAA recently finalized a wide-ranging airworthiness directive that compels all turbocharged aircraft to undergo inspection and replacement of certain v-band clamps. At issue is spot-welded, multi-section clamps that attach the exhaust to the turbocharger housing. The agency noted many failures of the parts over the years, and previously issued ADs that impacted specific aircraft models. With this new AD every turbocharged aircraft is impacted. The AD imposes a 500-hour life limit on the part, or 50 hours if time-in-service is unknown. Anticipating parts availability challenges, the FAA is slightly extending the compliance time with inspections during the first few years after the AD becomes effective.

Check Out the Latest Flight Levels Online

Considering all of aviation’s advances over the last 50 years, one of the biggest must be the global positioning system. Not only does GPS make navigating from point A to point B easier, it is also central to having instrument approaches at small airports all over the country, it supercharges our in-flight weather capabilities, helps with precise fuel calculations, and a host of other things that we now take for granted. If you’ve ever wondered how GPS came about, or how it works, check out Dr. Keith Thomassen’s story in the latest issue of Flight Levels OnlineDr. Thomassen breaks down the history and capabilities of the system in a fascinating way. And put that GPS to use on the epic trip of your dreams with Air Journey, detailed in the latest iteration of Adventure Flying. Air Journey Founder Thierry Pouille details a trip to “the other” Caribbean, including Roatan and Jamaica. These and many more stories detailing ownership tips, maintenance strategies and avenues to upgrade are in the spring issue of Flight Levels Online. Check them out, and surf the full archives for much more today.

July / August

See Ike’s Commander in Action

“These airplanes are nothing more than metal, rubber, and aluminum. But they represent those people who over a stretch of time in our history made something incredible happen.” This quote from Commemorative Air Force (CAF) volunteer Gerald Oliver, said while sitting in front of President Dwight Eisenhower’s L-26 Aero Commander, is an astute observation to what makes airplanes so special to us. Oliver was interviewed as part of a feature story and video published by AOPA on the famous Commander that served as Air Force One and shuttled Eisenhower between Washington, D.C., and his farm in Gettysburg, PA. The CAF restored the airplane, which Oliver claims to be the only flying L-26, and the organization now offers rides in the airplane as a way to generate support and show off a piece of living history for veterans and others. You can watch the full video on YouTube 52(12.8%), and read the story in an upcoming issue of AOPA PILOT magazine.

Summer Flight Levels Online Now

Roedie Botes might have the coolest aircraft registration in the world. But ZS-OOM, his 690B based in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, is notable for much more than its go-fast name. After buying the airplane during the Covid lockdowns, Botes embarked on a complete upgrade, and ditched every steam gauge in the panel. That includes custom electronic engine instruments from Electronics International. You can read the feature story 64(15.8%) in the latest issue of Flight Levels Online. Also in this issue, read how Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center the GAM Group 33(8.1%) keeps Australia running with its huge fleet of Commanders, expert maintenance facilities, and extensive parts stock. Aero Air’s Andre Pridgen explains the proper way to replace windshields 36(8.9%), and The Commander Guy, Barry Lane, describes why little differences 39(9.6%) between the models can have big impacts on operations. You can read these stories and many others in the latest edition, online now 63(15.6%).

Maintenance Alert Issued for Cracks in Lower Wing Skin Cutouts

Twin Commander Aircraft has issued a maintenance alert 66(16.3%) for cracking in the lower wing skin cutouts in the forward portion of the main landing gear truss. A longtime area of focus for owners and technicians, two reports from the field noted small cracks extending forward and aft from the radii of the lower wing skin cutouts. The maintenance alert calls for operators to work with a Twin Commander Authorized Service Center within the next six months to undergo detailed visual inspections and either eddy current or liquid penetrant inspections of the affected area. Maintenance facilities are encouraged to report the results of the inspections to Twin Commander Aircraft by calling 919-956-4300, emailing [email protected], or by submitting the card attached to the alert.


Service Center Focus: Naples Jet Center and Byerly Aviation

As one of the most active brokers of Twin Commanders, and with leadership positions in two Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Centers, Bruce Byerly has the pulse of the community. He’s been working for three years to expand the company’s footprint at the Naples Airport in Florida. A new 20,000-square-foot hangar is nearly completed “with a floor you could eat off,” and they’ve recently begun construction on a second hangar. At Byerly Aviation in Peoria, Illinois, Tim McKune, the company’s longtime manager, has been promoted to president, where he oversees the company’s numerous Commander dealings. Byerly said they are chocked full of Commanders, with Garmin improving lead time on parts to enable panel upgrades, and other exciting projects, soon to be announced.

Despite increased economic headwinds, Byerly said used inventory remains low enough to keep prices solid. “There’s still a ton of demand for Commanders.” The Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center network is the only source for parts and factory trained service technicians. The independently owned and operated facilities have capabilities that range from inspection and repair to paint and panel upgrades. Find the full list of service centers online.

A History of Innovation

When Ted Smith designed the prototype for the Aero Commander, he knew he had something special. But even great designs can be improved upon, and the company’s long history of innovation began almost immediately. Soon after receiving $400,000 in funding for production, Smith and 10 other early employees moved to Oklahoma City in order to begin production. There the team made 14 significant design changes, including industry firsts, such as electric trim and electric fuel shutoff valves. It’s also when they adopted the geared Lycoming GO-435 engines.

The storied history of Ted Smith and the many models of the Twin Commander he helped to produce can be found in Stars and Commanders: The life and vision of Ted Smith, by Dave Duntz. Make sure to check out every issue of Flight Levels Online for an excerpt of the book that details the airplane’s incredible history. You can purchase the book directly from the Stars and Commanders website.

Connect with Twin Commander

Love to share your passion for your airplane? Connect with Twin Commander by email and through social media. If you’re not already signed up for this newsletter, click here and fill out the simple form to make sure you don’t miss a future issue. You’ll get the latest news, maintenance information, techniques, and stories from around the world.

Or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for your dose of Twin Commander fun, history, and information.


Read the Latest Flight Levels Online

A flight school is probably one of the last places you’d expect to see a Shrike, but for Corsair Aviation in Van Nuys, California, the airplane makes perfect sense on the ramp as a key part of their growth strategy. Corsair recently purchased the Shrike as a tool to expand the school’s light-airplane charter business, and eventually to gain more government contracts, including fire spotting. Read about founder Mike Killian’s vision for the airplane.

Also in this issue, follow along with Twin Commander Aircraft’s Bob Wilson as he visits U.S.-based Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Centers, and discover what surprised him most about their capabilities. One of those service centers, Winner Aviation, once again has a familiar face at the helm, and he is looking to capitalize on the company’s past success. Go over a post-maintenance checklist with expert technician Rob Louviaux. Learn how to, or how to not, make your own checklist from Barry Lane. Avoid the tax pitfalls associated with charitable flying. Finally, plan a trip to the Bahamas, learn the basics of autopilots, and much more in the spring issue out now.

Parts Availability Improving

Twin Commander reports that the transition of parts sales from the factory to new partner AAR is going well. The two teams have identified a number of process improvements and efficiencies, all of which is contributing to better lead times. “We’re making great progress,” said Value Stream Manager Bob Wilson. “I’m proud of the hard work and long hours the team has put in on-site with AAR to better serve Twin Commander owners and operators.” Staff have been working closely with AAR to improve lead times, and Wilson said parts availability is clearly better than it was just a few weeks ago. He expects that trend to continue as the teams work closely together over the next few months, and as AAR and the Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Centers strengthen their relationships with AAR. “Ultimately we expect this to be a positive transition for owners and operators,” Wilson said. “AAR will do what it does best and fulfill parts quickly and efficiently, while Twin Commander can focus on engineering and other product support.”

Spring Weather Brings New Challenges

As temperatures around the country begin to climb, thunderstorms are becoming more prevalent, and upper-level icing is a concern. Now is the time to make sure your Commander’s systems are in top shape. Are your boots looking a little worse for wear? You’ll find them in stock at many service centers. It’s also a great time to have that deferred radar work done before we get into the worst of the summer weather. Contact your favorite Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center for the best price and availability for all your parts needs. Find the full list of service centers online.

Mark Your Calendar for the Endeavor Awards

Flying can be fun, satisfying, practical, and a powerful business tool. But an airplane can also be a great source of good for the community. Friday, June 9, the Endeavor Awards in Los Angeles, California, celebrate the wonderful world of charitable flying by recognizing incredible pilots and organizations that give so much of their time and resources, using aviation as a conduit. This year marks the ninth annual awards and fundraiser, with all the proceeds benefiting Angel Flight West. The black-tie event features a silent auction and night airshow, and is hosted by astronauts Garrett Reisman and Michael Massimino. Go to EndeavorAwards.org to learn more. And if you’re interested in giving back, a Commander is an excellent platform for charitable flying. Read about the tax benefits in the latest issue of Flight Levels Online.