I never cease to be amazed at the social network that connects the Commander to every corner of the aviation community. A couple of trips to the grocery store in my Commander-logo shirt have prompted folks to stop me and recollect their fond experiences flying in the Commander, or building them at the factory. It doesn’t matter the town or venue, there is usually someone who can relate in some fashion to our favorite bird.
The networking is global, too, extending to even the tiniest Inupiat village on Alaska’s Arctic coast. Villagers there can see Andrew Harcombe’s Clearwater Air Commanders flying precise, low-level transect lines along the rugged, desolate coast and out over the cold waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, recording populations of bowhead and gray whales, walruses and polar bears, and other marine mammals.
Clearwater Air, which Harcombe built from a single-ship day-VFR operator to an all-weather Part 135 government contractor operating three Commanders, is profiled in this issue. AIRplus is an experienced, full-service Commander shop, catering to customers throughout Europe.
What makes this worldwide network so very special is the people who own and fly the Commander. When the folks at Matheson Media put together a few Commander air-to-air photo shoots recently, we reached out to see if there were any volunteers who would be willing to put their bird on display for all to see. The response was overwhelming, to say the least. With the help of these eager and willing participants, we managed to capture some excellent footage. You get a glimpse of that footage in this issue’s feature on what it takes to pull off such a complex photo shoot, and you’ll see even more when we roll out our new Twin Commander Aircraft website in 2016.
I would like to personally thank all involved in the project, beginning with the excellent photographer, Tyson V. Rininger; Erick Teeters, the spot-on formation pilot; and Matt Mullahy, the skilled platform pilot. Of course, none of it would have been possible without Commanders to photograph. Rick Butler; Howard Elmore, John Elmore, Gus Osterkamp, Mark Hillgren and their pilot John Kelly; and John Levitz and his pilot Brian Ryckman are the generous Commander owners and pilots who allowed us unlimited access to their beautiful machines so that we could help you understand some of what makes owning and flying the Commander such a fine experience.
I always say that Commander owners are some of the nicest people in the world, and these folks are no exception. They obviously love their aircraft, and Tyson’s photographs tell us why. A heartfelt thanks to each of them from all of us at Twin Commander.