Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Twin Commander 1000: The Ultimate Turbine Commander
The 1000 is the apex of the ultraluxurious Twin Commander line of corporate turboprops
The FarSight executive got his flying start at an almost ridiculously young age. Both his grandfather and father were enthusiastic pilots, and Obernolte can remember riding in the back of Skyhawks at age five while his father taught stalls to students up front. "I have vague memories of Dad telling a nervous student to look in the back seat during stall practice, and I'd usually be asleep," laughs Obernolte.
"Dad took me up to near solo, and that's when Mom put her foot down. I had to wait several more years until I went to Cal Tech in Pasadena to earn my pilot's license with the college flying club." Obernolte went on to earn an instrument rating and purchased his first airplane, a Glasair I, shortly after graduating from college with a master's degree in artificial intelligence. He subsequently traded the Glasair I for a 300 hp Glasair III, buying the hotrod III from jazz saxophonist Kenny G.
"After college, I got married and we started having kids, so a two-seat airplane was no longer practical. Problem was, a Glasair III was a tough airplane to transition out of: It really was an exciting airplane to fly, with great handling and plenty of speed. I didn't want to step down in performance—the Glasair cruised at nearly 220 knots," Jay explains. "As a result, I bought a 1984 Aerostar 700P and absolutely loved it. It was something like a certified Glasair twin with more seats. The Aerostar was a great performer, probably the best handling asymmetrical-thrust twin in the sky, but of course, it was still a piston machine with all the inherent reliability considerations, and it had only six usable seats."
Obernolte was looking to step up to a turbine, and he did extensive research before giving up his Aerostar. "I evaluated practically everything available, from Cheyennes, Merlins, Conquests to King Airs, but nothing quite fit what I had in mind," he comments. "I even considered a Cessna Citation CJ1 jet, but it wouldn't have been practical for summer operation out of Big Bear. Support was a major factor in our decision, and when the Twin Commander 1000 became available in '04, I jumped at the chance to own the top of the Commander turboprop line."
Obernolte focused his attention on a Twin Commander for several reasons, most having to do with practical considerations of loading, speed, range, short-field capability and payload. "I've always liked Ted Smith's designs. He was something of a maverick, and all his airplanes place the cockpit out in front of the engines. I really enjoy the improved visibility provided by the more forward seating position. I also appreciate the idea of a forward-boarding door, so the pilot can be the last one in and the one to close the door, then not have to thread his way forward through five or six passengers to the front office." Obernolte also favored the Twin Commander's large external baggage compartment that allowed stowing most of the bags outside the passenger cabin, again similar to the Aerostar's aft cargo compartment. "With those big 820 shp, Garrett TPE-331 engines, the huge, nine-seat cabin and all the other benefits, the 1000 was exactly the right airplane for us," Obernolte explains.
Page 2 of 4