The Model 500 was the seventh Commander to be placed into production, the first 16 by the Aero Design & Engineering Company at Tulakes Airport (later re-named Wiley Post) in Bethany, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the last 85 by the Aero Design & Engineering Company as a subsidiary of Rockwell-Standard Corporation.
The 101 examples were built between June 1958 and December 1959, with serial numbers in the range 618 through 852.
Of these, 39 were initially certified in 1958, and 62 in 1959.
A factory document describes the Model 500, under Wing Drawing 5170023 with a 32-inch wing tip extension, as “a 6000-pound gross weight normal category airplane using Lycoming O-540-A1A6 engines rated at 230 HP at 2575 RPM. The aircraft configuration is basically identical structurally and aerodynamically to the Model 560E. The only structural change is the Dyna-focal engine mounts, which were required when the engine was changed from Lycoming GO-480-C1B6 to Lycoming O-540-A2B. These new engine mounts were substantiated by static test and the landing gear was certified for the Model 560A. All other structure already substantiated to 7500-pound gross weight and a load factor of +3.5. (Reference Report S10-027). This model was certified on July 24, 1958.”
Mention of the O-540-A1A6 engine appears to be an error for the -A1A5 variant, which was used on serial number 618 when its initial Certificate of Airworthiness was issued in the Experimental-R&D category on June 23, 1958 but by July 22, when the CofA was renewed, the O-540-A2B engines had been installed.
The FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet says, “Same as 560E except for decreased gross weight, powerplants and 560A landing gear.”
The Model 500 was indeed certified on July 24, 1958 under Type Certificate 6A1 and has 250-hp Lycoming O-540-A2B engines, with 80-inch-diameter Hartzell HC-82XK-2 series hubs and 8433 blades propellers. Thus, it was the first Commander model to use a non-geared engine.
Gross weight of the 500 is 6,000 lb, but with STC SA377SO this is increased to 6,500 lb.
The Model 500 did not replace a previous one; instead, it was intended to fill a lower price range market.
In a copy of the Maintenance Manual held for the Model 500, there seem to be a couple of errors. “Landing Gear Tread 168.00 inches” should read “Wheelbase 168.00 inches” and also, under Fuel, “Capacity Inboard 156 U.S. gallons, Capacity Outboard (optional) 67 U.S. gallons, Maximum Useable Capacity 233 U.S. gallons,” whereas the total should read 223 U.S. gallons.
Barry Collman’s lifelong interest in airplanes began when he was growing up in a house located underneath the downwind leg to busy Northolt aerodrome, an R.A.F. base near London-Heathrow airport. As a young teenager he discovered airplane “spotting”–hobbyists’ observation and logging of aircraft by make, model, and registration number. The hobby began to grow into a passion as Collman joined a club of like-minded spotters. At one point he purchased a copy of the January 1966 U.S. Civil Aircraft Register, and thumbing through it came upon the Aero Commander. He was hooked. Eventually he acquired every available FAA microfiche file on Commanders, and since 1995 has made annual pilgrimages to Oklahoma City to sift through FAA records. He now has a database with more than 96,100 records as well as a collection of negatives, slides, photographs, digital images, magazines, brochures, knick-knacks–and a very understanding wife. This series on Commander production history originally was written for the Twin Commander Flight Group, of which he is an enthusiastic member.