Dave Ellison grew up and learned to fly in Oklahoma City in the 1970s. Still an active pilot, Dave is a devotee of classic aircraft—so much so that he and his brother, Jim, are part owners of a North American T-28 and Howard 250 Tri-Gear based at Mid America Flight Museum in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Mid America prides itself on restoring vintage and warbird aircraft to flying condition. The majority of the museum’s collection, including the T-28 and Howard, is in the air on a regular basis.
Dave’s interest in airplanes goes beyond museums, however. About 30 years ago Dave and Jim founded Statewide Service Center, which distributes farm supplies to some 1200 customers in half-a-dozen states within a 500- to 600-mile radius of Oklahoma City. Many of those customers are located in small, rural communities not at all served by scheduled airline service. That’s an ideal mission profile for a company aircraft.
Up until a year ago Statewide chartered airplanes—King Airs, mostly—to get to customers. As the business grew, it began to make sense for Statewide to own and operate its own aircraft. But, instead of a King Air, Statewide opted for an aircraft that Dave and his brother had grown up seeing around Oklahoma City because they were manufactured in nearby Bethany. They chose a Commander, specifically a Model 840.
Why a Commander? It’s “fast, very efficient, and capable of short-field takeoffs and getting into places others can’t,” Dave says. It fulfills the mission.
They base the Commander at Legacy Aviation Services at Clarence E. Page Airport in Yukon, east of Oklahoma City, not far from where it was built. Legacy recently finished a complete refurbishment of the interior in Statewide’s Commander, and updated the panel with Garmin GTN750 and 650 flight management systems and Garmin 345 and 335 ADS-B-compliant transponders.
The update slimmed the Commander down about 80 pounds, and the new all-leather interior looks and feels first-class luxurious and comfortable, so much so that Dave prefers to let the company’s professional pilot do the flying while he relaxes in the passenger cabin, enjoying the view out the landscape windows.