What I Learned at Twin Commander School
By Matt Isley
President, Twin Commander Aircraft
Twin Commander Aircraft
Colleges and universities are institutions of higher learning, and higher learning is just what I received at our own advanced education institute, the Twin Commander University.
The 2009 University “class” numbered about 130 “students” including Twin Commander owners and guests, many of whom were first-time University attendees, as well as members of our Service Center network. This was a truly amazing response given that many aircraft companies have cancelled their owner events this year due to lack of interest. Though the Scottsdale, Arizona, early-May sun tested the limits of the scramblers in our golf tournament, it was definitely a “dry heat,” as they say.
Based on survey feedback and comments from the participants with whom I spoke, the University was a major success. It was an honor and a thrill for me to meet with owners and speak with them about their Commander ownership experience. In fact, the lesson that had the greatest impact on me was learning just how passionate and loyal Commander owners are about their aircraft.
I’m a newcomer to the Twin Commander family. I became president of the company earlier this year, and since then I’ve been immersed in the many, many details associated with new employees, vendors, projects, and our authorized service center network. The 2009 University was my first real opportunity to mingle with and get to know our ultimate customer base—individual owners and operators of Twin Commanders. Here are some of the things I learned at the University:
First, as I stated earlier, I learned that owners truly are fans of their aircraft. Twin Commanders stand apart from the competition in many ways including performance, efficiency, handling, and rugged reliability. The Commander looks different, too. It’s big—it has a “Commanding” presence, you might say—and the high wing is unusual among multiengine aircraft. Those distinctive traits combine to make for a unique package, one that has achieved near “rock star” status among airplane cognoscente.
I learned that owners can never get enough information about their airplanes. We had a jam-packed agenda at the University—three days of informative seminars ranging from hands-on instruction on using airborne weather radar to updates on maintenance and upgrade issues—yet owners asked for more. Helmuth Eggeling, Honeywell’s Pilot Advisor, had a nearly four-hour seminar on tips for operating the TPE331, but apparently that was not enough. “Give Helmuth a full day,” one survey respondent wrote.
Providing more information about Commanders is where our service centers can be of great help. By having your Commander serviced by an Authorized Twin Commander Service Center, you are exploiting decades of experience and knowledge of your airframe. They are always available to answer your questions, and they have the right tools to do the job right.
At the University I learned that owners enjoy looking at and talking about each other’s Twin Commanders. Friday night, Executive Aircraft Maintenance hosted a dinner party at their hangar at Scottsdale Airpark. The sunset was almost as beautiful as the sight of a full moon softly illuminating 26 Commanders artfully arranged on the ramp. Before, during, and after dinner, people walked among the aircraft, peeking in the side windows or open doors to check out the panels and interiors. It was a mutual admiration society.
I also learned that the most important message I could leave with owners was to give them my personal commitment to continue to support the aircraft and to keep focusing on improvements and upgrades that enhance Twin Commander ownership. That is our mission as a company. As many of you already know, there are a number of options available from your Twin Commander Authorized Service Center to keep your Commander looking and flying like new. Clearly, many of the owners present at the University have taken advantage of this because the birds on the ramp were in great condition.
And there was one more thing I learned: I consider myself to be a pretty fair golfer, but I should have known better than to go up against an 8-year-old in the putting contest that took place during the Thursday evening Welcome Reception. Sure enough, while the rest of us either left it short, putted wide, or powered past the hole, young Troy Obernolte, son of Commander 1000 owner Jay Obernolte, drained two putts from 30 yards out in post-dusk darkness. Some things I’ll never learn.