Commander aircraft owners hold fly-in at Cape

Sunday, October 15, 2006

When it comes to Commander aircraft, Glenn Mores isn't short on words.

He loves everything about the planes, which he calls the finest single-engine planes in the world.

"It is a premier plane," said Mores.

Mores, who lives in Beverly, Mass., near Boston‚ flew his Commander to Cape Girardeau for the Commander Owners Group annual fly-in.

On Saturday morning, Mores' plane and nearly 50 others sat on the ramp at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

The fly-in is held at airports around the country. This was the first such fly-in at the Cape Girardeau airport.

Mores said it probably was the largest turnout of Commander planes at a fly-in in three decades.

About 150 pilots and their spouses attended the fly-in. Some showed up earlier in the week to sightsee, organizers said.

Some Commander Owners Group members came from as far away as Italy, Germany and Australia. But those members took commercial flights rather than their own planes.

Dietmar Voelker, a lawyer from Luebeck, Germany, said the trip took him 24 hours. But he said it was well worth it. Voelker has owned a Commander since January 2005. He loves the plane.

"It's very solid. It's very comfortable," he said.

There are an estimated 800 Commander airplanes in existence. The Commander Owners Group has more than 300 members around the globe.

First built by Rockwell in the 1970s, the airplane has become a favorite of experienced general aviation pilots like Mores for their quality, ruggedness and engineering.

"This is a plane with about 10,000 parts in it," Mores said.

Many of the owners have restored their planes so they look brand new. "Most of these have been repainted," Mores said as he looked out at all the shiny planes parked at the airport.

The public had a chance to view the private planes Saturday morning. Thirty to 50 people visited the airport during the morning to see the planes.

For the pilots of these aircraft, the weekend fly-in provided a chance to renew friendships with fellow Commander owners, attend various aviation seminars and get a first-hand look at the Commander Premier Aircraft Corporation's facility at the airport.

The new aviation firm purchased the assets of Commander Aircraft Co. in Oklahoma City which had filed for bankruptcy. The new firm relocated parts and equipment to its new facility at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport last fall.

The company opened its service center in February and began selling parts a few months ago.

Commander Premier is waiting on final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin building new planes.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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