Commander thoughts

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by kujo806, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. kujo806

    kujo806 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've been getting more serious about getting my own plane recently, and like many others trying to narrow down the list. I want something more capable than a 172 or warrior that is comfortable for my family of 4, but not overboard for operating costs or maintenance considering most of the time will be just me. The magnesium ruddervator concerns of the V tails kind of ruined that consideration for me, and the straight tails are higher priced than what I want to do. Mooneys look like a decent buy right now, but I don't think they will be comfortable enough for what I am looking for. I looked at 182s, but I am struggling with $150k like prices for turn key 40+ year old Cessnas.

    I noticed some reasonable looking Commander 112TCs and 114s, but they are on the less common side, and have never had the opportunity to see one let alone fly one in person. I was wondering if there were any Commander owners in the Chicago area that wouldn't mind showing me their bird. Maybe it is a little odd for a request, but I'm not sure how to get a little more carnal knowledge before seriously kicking the tires on planes across the country. Everything I read seems interesting. Very comfortable cabin, reasonable speeds, and solid build sound good to me.

    In general, I am curious how people learned more about their plane types before buying them. I mean it's easy to try out 172s, 182s, basic piper models, and the more common stuff, but what if you were looking at Mooneys, Bonanzas, Commanders, etc. You can't just go rent one on the local flight line.
     
  2. Ghery

    Ghery Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I fly the club's C-172 and C-182 aircraft. I flew our Arrow when we had one. The 182 is far and away the most comfortable. Add a C-150 and you have all the powered aircraft I have flown.

    However, back in 2005 AOPA had a Commander 114 as their rebuild and give away aircraft and I did have the opportunity to sit it in briefly at Sun n Fun that year. As I recall it also felt comfortable. Granted, this was a couple minutes on the ground, but it did suggest to me that further investigation would be worthwhile.

    Just a thought...
     
  3. Blatham489

    Blatham489 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    First join or at least browse Commander.org. Next check out Suncoast Aviation, owner knows more about Commanders than anyone. Most owners will tell you being an orphaned plane is not a big deal, plenty of parts are standard components. I looked at the line hard, lots to like about them. 112's are a tad light on payload. 114's are a bit slow for its power but not painfully so. Sat in several but never flew one, universal praise for handling.

    182's are pricey for a reason. While not excelling at anything, they do almost everything reasonably well and hold their value better than anything I can think of. Buy a runout and upgrade to the IO550 and you have one helluva plane.

    Enjoy the search, it can be as much fun as owning.
     
  4. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    I think just about any plane will have quirks & the rest. One part of the evaluation is how much of the ‘family’ would be going at one time? Often family members are going different directions. The other end is do you plan to load up & head to Yellowstone?

    The budget looms large, airplane acquisition is only the start of expenses, even insurance has been creeping up lately. Some set aside some ‘fun $$’ for flying, others will find a loan.

    I own an IO-390 powered Commander 112, we get along fairly well. That said, if my list included 4 I’d at least look into the Dakota & the RV-10. Yes, can be a can of worms buying a ‘home-built’. 1628CBA5-3FAE-4200-9070-EC5311306316.jpeg
     
  5. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Paging GMascelli.........
     
  6. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    You rang??? ;)

    kujo806

    I started out in a Beech Sundowner, roomy, two doors and tolerated all the slow jokes. My bride and I decided we wanted more speed, actually she pushed for it more then me. We purchased a Beech Debonair, loved that plane. It had all the avionics one could want and a first for me an autopilot. Sadly just 15 hours into my adventure it ate an exhaust valve on take off and I made an off airport landing. Insurance wrote her off, but we both survived.

    Fast forward to our get back on the horse and ride story. We wanted another plane and looked at Sierra's, Cirrus, and Commanders. You do see the trend here....we wanted two doors. I was lucky to be pulled out of our plane that caught on fire, if it had a pilot side door I could have crawled out a bit easier....but i digress.

    I shopped around and wanted to purchase a Commander 114, useful load was good and the speed was fine too. I had a set number $$$ that I wanted to spend and did not find a 114 in that range, but I found a 112A. The 112 worked fine for my bride and I as a travel machine. The useful load is 840 so that would work, total fuel was 68 gallons, and I flight plan for 130 kts. It's roomy! Easy to fly and land, and the aircraft has an excellent owners group for questions, parts or anything else you can think of.

    If you are interested in Commanders strongly recommend contacting Judi Anderson, she is the Commander queen, keeper of all Commander aircraft knowledge, and your best bet for finding the right aircraft. Judi may be able to hook you up with an owner close to you for a ride along. If not I can post on the owners group to try and find you a ride, which might be difficult with the ongoing covid crap.

    Judi Anderson at http://www.suncoastaviation.com

    As far as learning more about a specific aircraft I suggest joining the type specific club, it will be worth your investment. If you want to talk Commanders drop me a pm and we can swap emails or phone numbers.

    Good luck with the hunt!
     
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  7. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The Super Commander, very nice!
     
  8. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Former Commander owner here - I had a 112TC. Great plane, did everything I needed. Light on the useful,load, but 80+% of my flights were just me so it was a non-issue. I sold it after 16+ years after I moved to a place where the airports were very inconvenient and I wasn't flying enough to justify it.

    The line of planes is great, but note that the 112TC has an engine that's not very common: a Lyc TO360. Generally no issue, but there were a couple of occasions where finding parts for the engine took longer than the more common engines - to be clear, we could always get engine parts, it just took a bit longer in a couple of cases to get them. The normally aspirated 112s are IO360 powered, the 114/115 is IO540 powered, and there is an aftermarket STC for a 390 engine. Those are common engines, so parts are easily available.

    The later 114/115 series had TKS K-ice available.

    Very stable and comfortable platform. I rather have that than the few extra knots for cramped quarters on certain other makes.

    Owners group is pretty active, and has second-sourced some parts for the older models. Judy Anderson has brokered many of these planes and probably has the most extensive files of anyone other than whomever ended up with the factory files.
     
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  9. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I thought the Super Commander was the 114/115 with an IO-580 hanging off the front? Something like max 175 KTAS?
     
  10. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route PoA Supporter

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  11. kujo806

    kujo806 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I did read about those super commander modifications. Looks very interesting albeit expensive. Thank you for the helpful information. I will try to contact Judy.

    BTW...I haven't seen anything on pitch authority in what I have read. The stabilizer looks kind of small in pictures, and the plane appears to be heavy. Is the plane pitch sensitive like a mooney or 182 in the flare?
     
  12. WDD

    WDD Cleared for Takeoff

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    Why is the 182 more comfortable in your opinion ?
     
  13. red4golf

    red4golf Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Blast from the past review.

     
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  14. Jamie Kirk

    Jamie Kirk Line Up and Wait

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    Loved my commander. Parts are a non issue unless you bend metal.
     
  15. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    The 182 cabin is wider, especially at the shoulders. I don't think there's any other 4-5 seat piston bird that can compete with the Commander 112/114/115 series for cabin comfort, but the Cirrus is probably about the closest. The Commanders wider cabin and two doors are what people love about them (as well as the trailing link landing gear), but it does cost them some speed compared to PA24s and 35/36 Bonanzas.
     
  16. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Never was really an issue for me. Because it's a cruciform tail it has characteristics of both a low stabilizer and a high one (certain Arrow models). Likewise stock rudder.

    If it's a concern to you, add vortex generators. They were one of the best mods I made to my Commander. Lowered the stall speed considerably (to the point where we could get such a high deck angle that I didn't do full power for power-on stalls). They also add authority to both the rudder and stabilizer. I can vividly remember pushing the plane exceedingly hard to avoid trouble on a couple of occasions and it it my belief that the VGs gave me extra margin in avoiding a stall.

    I am a firm believer in VGs for any plane as a result.
     
  17. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    Flew one once. Absolutely loved it. Don't know anything about owning them.
     
  18. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    182 - W 42” H 48”

    112A - W 47” H 49”

    22185AF8-6889-4935-80A7-029F630E6AA9.jpeg
    ECB927A8-569C-4263-B19D-50DB878019E2.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  19. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Just don't get the idea that if the airplane's price is relatively low, that the maintenance will also be relatively low. There are numerous complex aircraft out there (constant-speed, retracts, sometimes turbos) that sell for less than other comparable airplanes simply because there's less demand for them, but they still have plenty of stuff to maintain, and sometimes parts are hard to find. And expensive. I've seen owners get nasty shocks when their bargain airplane turns out to be not so much of a bargain.
     
  20. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I was comparing the 182 to the Piper Arrow and C172/152 in the original quote, not comparing it to the Commander series. That's also why I noted that there's not another aircraft in the 4/5-seat piston series that can match the Commanders on cabin comfort, aside from possibly the SR22.
     
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  21. Cricket1

    Cricket1 Pre-Flight

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    Gary-

    For some reason Cessna decided to measure the 182 cabin width from the front door posts, not from the side of the door where the armrest meets. THAT is where the true width lies, and it is 46" total. Still not as wide as the 112A, but much closer. :)
     
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  22. kujo806

    kujo806 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wow, you guys are really selling me on the advantages of the commander. Nice video too. I am going to have to look into this a little harder. Also, the 182 is still in contention. I agree they do a lot of things well, and I like that just about any shop can work on them and the engines are relatively cheap to operate. It's just that as the prices start getting closer to 200k, more modern stuff is also in that range. Have GA aircraft prices been increasing a lot over the past few years or does it just seem like that now that I am looking closer?

    Thanks again for the great feedback.
     
  23. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    As an Arrow owner, I concur. The 182 volumetrics are pretty attractive to us right now trying to move up from the Arrow. Lycoming powered pre-restart fixed gear samples are hen's teeth unfortunately, so it's proving a bit of a waiting game, thankfully we got the time due to COVID, plus the market for them is a bit frothy at the moment.

    One of the things that surprised us about the commander when I finally had the opportunity to look at one was the rear legroom. Apparently we weren't the only ones that noticed [1]. The 182s are really generous on this metric (wife driven metric), plus the power loading (me driven metric) is much better for our payload profile, so we're looking at the 182 route.

    For a 2 seater mission none of that matters, and the commander is right up there with the PA-32 and Cirrus in the front row game. The Cardinal also qualifies in that club. All 4 real comfortable front rows, with an edge to the two-door samples for ingress and egress.


    Circa 44". But your point is noted. The headroom apportionment imo is what gives the cessna high wings (sans cardinal) the cavernous feeling in an otherwise middle of the pack cabin width ranking. The flat floorboard cabin apportionment also plays into this sense of roominess.
    upload_2020-7-26_15-12-52.png
    (courtesy of POA)


    Long story short, it really pays to sit in an actual sample before committing to a type, in order to make sure it fits one's cabin specific desires.
     
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  24. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    My former hangar buddy has a 112 Commander, 200 HP. It's a great airplane and is very roomy inside. Ramp appeal to me is very good ... they just look like money.:cool:

    If there was a downside to his plane it was that the useful load wasn't great. It was fine with a couple of bodies, a bit of luggage, and good fuel range but a hot day at high density would have you wanting a little more pavement out front on the take-off roll, or a few more horses on the nose.

    I was a guest of my friends at the Commander Owners Group meeting at Daniel Field back in 2018. Some very nice planes were there. A Commander would be a great plane to own!
     
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  25. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Commander 114B owner here. I bought mine sight unseen without ever having sat in one much less fly in one. I flew up to Long Island from Texas to pick mine up and knew within 10 minutes of taking off from Islip Long Island on the return trip that I made a great decision. Now....I got lucky and do not recommend ever buying an airplane like that to anyone. Pure luck on my part.

    What drew me to the Commander was the pilot's side door, Lycoming IO-540 engine, and the roominess of the cockpit. If you don't like touching the person in the right seat, you will love traveling in this airplane.

    The positives are obvious - very roomy, great engine, landing gear (engineering overkill, but what a pair of MLG!), craftsmanship, pilot side door (a pilot should never have to crawl over a seat to get to his), and they look darn good.

    Downsides - Backseat leg room. The backseat does not match up to the roominess of the front seats. Slow compared to a Bonanza. I flight plan using 150 knots. When you fly by the POH, at 75% power, you will be sitting right at 155 TAS, just like the tables show. Not a knot more. But, you are so darn comfortable, you probably don't care.

    This is a very stable IFR platform. The plane is crazy easy to fly and I am not sure what you would have to do to botch a landing (see landing gear above). You feel like you are in a much bigger airplane that what it is, but it still handles very nicely. It is easy to load with no real CG issues.

    I would be happy with either a 182 or a Commander. Both are great airplanes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
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  26. Ghery

    Ghery Touchdown! Greaser!

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    In answer to the original question, which I believe was aimed at me saying that the 182 is more comfortable than the Arrow...

    My complaint with the Arrow was that 3 hours in it was the end of my endurance. At 3 hours (and perhaps earlier) my knees were shot and it was all I could do to crawl out of it. I never did find a definitive reason, but I think that it might be the angle of the seat to the rudder pedals. Just a guess. I have never had a similar problem with the 182 (or a 172, for that matter).

    On a side note, the Arrow to me was a two person airplane. I have never taken anyone flying that I disliked enough to put in the back seat. This was an Arrow I and when I put the pilot's seat at a position that was comfortable for me there wasn't a whole lot of legroom left in the back seat. I've never had this problem in the 182, and with few (very few) exceptions, the 172. Heck, I took my PP check ride with the CFI in the back seat. He was invited to come along by the DPE. I think I scored some brownie points when I handed her a spreadsheet showing that the 180 hp C-172N was legal with W&B in that case. I don't know what prompted me to run that one as well, but it came in handy. :D
     
  27. NordicDave

    NordicDave Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Building on Hindsight's point...

    High wings are widest nearer the head & shoulder, and low wings wider near the feet. The width of a high wing is where you want it and need it most if optimized usable width is important to a buyer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  28. kujo806

    kujo806 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I owned part of an arrow 2 for many years. I got my complex in an arrow 1. There is a big difference in back seat room between them. Most of my time is actually in arrows. That is another possibility, although I'd like something a little nicer I think. That said, I am curious how the rear legroom and landing of a commander compares to arrows. My kids are growing, so the backseat will matter at some point.
     
  29. Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Leg in rear seat - not bad for anyone sub 6'. Of course it depends on the two in the front seats in how far back they have their seats. Still, the Commander is certainly not a "roomy" airplane in the back seats in regard to leg room. Plenty of shoulder room and head room back there, but not alot of leg room.

    Landing - I can't think of another airplane that would be easier to land. Those huge trailing link MLG make any pilot look like a hero on landing. I certainly don't advocate being a sloppy pilot, but compared to a Mooney or a Beech Sundowner / Sierra (which I also own) with the rubber "biscuits" for landing gear, the Commander is a very easy airplane to land.
     
  30. codeeno

    codeeno Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The Commander is roomy - to me - front and back with plenty of cargo space.

    When I got my Commander and was flying with a CFI for the 5 hours my insurance required - I first got in and put the seat where I was comfy. The instructor said, you can set way back there - but - you may want to be farther forward so you have plenty of leg to put into the right rudder, she is going to need a lot more than you are used to. So I moved the seat forward a bit - did some flying. The next day I moved my seat farther forward - to make it sure I have plenty of leg to use for my rudder. I am 6'1 and sit far forward when flying.

    If I get in the back seat and position the seat for where I would fly, I have plenty of leg room - plus the rear seat also can be tilted back. I've had a person who is 6'2 and 250 in the back seat - he was comfortable.

    Just my experience.

    Dean
     
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  31. Kansas Flyer

    Kansas Flyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Cardinals
     
  32. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Be sure to run the book numbers for a summer high altitude takeoff. (Or maybe you don’t need to do high alt where you’re at.)

    Our Phoenix based club was looking at one, but we ran the numbers for a 3-4 person afternoon departure from GCN and decided to pass...
     
  33. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    When the 114 was introduced in 1976, I had about 60 hours. The aircraft was featured on the cover of Flying, and when I saw it, I thought THAT'S the airplane I want. Still haven't purchased one. :D

    IIRC, it cost around $26,000, which is roughly $165,000 in 2020 money.
     
  34. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The TB-20/21 also have a larger cabin and 2 doors. They were my second choice if I didn't get the Commander.