We arrived at Henderson Executive Airport in Las Vegas and there were only two Commanders on the ramp. I knew Morris Kernick was there but no one else. Upon walking into the FBO, it turned out there were quite a few people.
The first night we all got to know each other, and grabbed something to eat at a local restaurant. Friday morning we gathered at the airport and got things started. Every hour or so there was a different topic. We really enjoyed the great information around the investigation of the crash of our leader, Jim Metzger, last year. Usually people make stuff up that has holes you can never quite work through in your head, but his was a tale of facts that lined up and made perfect sense. It also made me realize a few things about my own plane, such as exactly why it is so important to use the gusts locks, both inside and outside on the airplane.
As the day progressed we heard from more Commander pilots and their stories of life in the Commander world.
That evening we got to listen to Morris and One-Eyed Jack (Jim Metzger) and their many adventures. I could have sat and listened to them all night telling of the Commanders they’ve flown all over the world. The stories of how they got some of them running made you realize that with enough motivation and thought, you can get almost anything done.
Saturday we got to hear about Steve Binnette’s project bringing back his Model 980 Commander. Wow what a plane! It goes to show that with enough money and attention you can make an old Commander turn into a beautiful and reliable airplane. We also got a good lesson from Morris on the Commander landing gear and how important it is to pay attention to things. He also talked about recommended rebuilds and the cost of parts. We got caught up on Twin Commander Aircraft LLC and some of the things they’re up to.
Later in the afternoon we heard about current affairs with the new Swift fuel, and had a good discussion about diesel engines and the likelihood that they will ever replace our awesome-sounding gas-powered engines.
After all was said Saturday, we walked outside to tour the airplanes on the ramp. It was nice to hear stories and get tips about the different parts of the plane from different people. I again learned a few more things about my plane that I need to pay attention to, and it was nice to have the questions and listen to all the stories.
Saturday night we got together for a very nice dinner at the hotel and an auction. This was no normal auction, however, as the people attending brought all types of gifts to sell. The money raised will help host next year’s event. The stories I heard that night about Moe Mills (the previous owner of my 680FLP) were awesome. I hadn’t really heard much before that, so it was awesome that everyone had been so close to him and had great stories to tell. He owned the airplane a lot longer than I realized, and he loved purple even more than I had thought.
We laughed a lot during the auction as our auctioneer (One-Eyed Jack) was quite funny. He had people upping their bids just by blinking their eyes. I actually purchased his external gust lock with the chicken attached. My son asked why the chicken wasn’t making money, and I told him the story that the crash must have scared the squeaker out of him.
For some reason I won three awards at the meeting this year, but I think maybe it was because they were afraid I might not come back. Giving me everything that had to be returned would be a good way to make sure I did. It was very fun and the group is a lot closer than I imagined. We are very happy to have been let in and hope we stay close to everyone as time progresses.
Oh, and thanks for making so much fun of Moe’s airplane. I’ve been flying this bird all over the country, and spent two weeks in the Caribbean with no real issues. Now because of all the fun it looks like I’ve got a bad crankshaft seal that I will have to fix when I arrive home in Georgia at the end of the week. At least I won’t have to wonder what I will be doing this weekend.