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Turbo Commander - on a short flight in Oregon...

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Today, I thought of this unique plane (look-wise a bit unique too) that, I've not flown in a very very long time, but one, I happen to know since the earliest days of my interest in the hobby...primarily thanks to a (prolific) freeware developer by the name, "Milton Shupe", who had contributed excellent renditions of multiple Aero Commander (=AC) series a/c (-500/-520/-560/-680). Though the roots of the AC Series, with piston-powered engines, goes back to the years just after end of WWII, the "-680" variant is where the first Turboprop would appear in these series (powered by the pioneering (military-grade) Garrett AiResearch (Honeywell) TPE-331 engines), and hence the name in the Title of this post contains "Turbo". BTW, I recall, now, a short while ago I'd done a post on the (Australian) FIFO (airline) operator, Skipper's Aviation, and its Metroliner twin-prop, which was also powered by the same Garrett TPE-331 engines. The a/c, here, seen below, is the Carenado version of the Commander "690B" variant, that first flew in 1976, equipped with larger wings, more powerful TPE-331 engines, and enhanced ergonomic cabin comfort (see interior shot, below) etc.

While looking for a new livery for my 690B, I came across a repaint for "Aero Air", which is a multi-faceted operator out of Portland-Hillsboro Airport, located 13 miles west of downtown Portland. Aero Air specializes as a FBO, Charter carrier, Medical Transporter, and provider of a/c maintenance. Aero Air was founded in 1956 by Oregon native, Norman "Swede" Ralston, known for his incomparable passion for aviation and the highest standards of work ethics. Ralston constructed the first commercial hangar at Hillsboro, Oregon, and helped found the Hillsboro Airport. Interestingly, Ralston is also famous for the stunt he performed, in August 1950, flying his AT-6 Texan through a (WWII) blimp hangar at the Naval Air Station in Tillamook, Oregon. He flew the Texan at 250 mph, through the hangar, at an altitude of 150 ft, just below the roof of the hangar. If you wish to see pictures of this daredevilry, please search for, "Images for "Swede" Ralston flying Texan through hangar". Of course, you may also recreate the act, with your (own) Texan, in the virtual world, from the comfort of your Pilot's easy chair...🙂...

Aero Air uses a mix of Jets and Props for time-critical ("Every Second Counts" is Aero Med's motto) Patient Transport and medical evaluation. However, the Aero Air Commander 690B, seen, here, is configured for charter service. Though its avionics and throttle quadrant (see [VC] shots, below) are showing, here, its age (a few (RW) 690Bs have been upgraded to Full Glass avionics), nonetheless, the 690B is still popular and flying even today with several operators in specialized missions and roles. 

Below, are a few observations that have been noted about this aircraft:

  1. Large picture windows in the cabin, and wrap-around windshield, in the cockpit, with a skylight above each side window, provide excellent visibility for the passengers and pilots alike.
  2. Entering the airplane is made easier because the bottom of the fuselage is (naturally by Design and shape) close to the ground (see pictures).
  3. The shape of the engine inlet for the Honeywell TPE331 engine is very characteristic and reminiscent of a large smile... (look for the smile in the front of the engine...).
  4. The Commander’s long and thick wings with a high-wing design ("God never made a low-wing bird”, I read somewhere in this context from the Commander pilots and enthusiasts...🙂...Oh well...) ...provides the airplane with exceptionally benign slow-flight and stall characteristics, which help make the airplane a good short field performer.
  5.  The strong landing gear, which is actuated by a combination of hydraulic and pneumatic systems and gravity, helps make the Commander a good airplane for unimproved airstrips.
  6. The airplane also exhibits impressive power for fast climb (e.g., up to 4,000 fpm climb rate), including excellent single-engine climb performance. It's said that an engine failure in a Turbo Commander is a “non-event".

In conclusion, the Commanders may look a little strange, on the outside, but, in our SIM, I've always liked these airplanes, and, of course, within the (RW) Commander community too, the passion for these airplanes runs deep, especially with those who fly them...almost a cult like following...🙂...

For this post, I'm lifting off with my 690B, from Portland International Airport (KPDX), in Oregon’s largest city, that sits on the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, in the shadow of the snow-capped (and cloud-covered too, in my picture below) ~11,200 ft high (stratovolcano) Mount Hood, Oregon's highest mountain. Prior to heading westward, across the short (~15 miles) stretch of fertile and flat lands, towards (KHIO) Portland-Hillsboro airport, I've first made a diversionary visit to pay my respects to the awe-inspiring Mount Hood (see one shot, below).

Hope you enjoy this collection of pictures...! Thanks for your interest...!!





















Edited by P_7878
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Another in-depth post. Your screenshots always come with a "bonus" of fascinating information.

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Great flight. I too remember flying freeware developed by Milton S. 🙂

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Another fine Set, thanks for showing !

cheers 😉

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My Rig : Intel I7-7820X 8 Core ( 16 Threads ) @ 4,0,  Asus Prime X299-A,  Now on a ASUS Prime X299 A II - reason; my X299 A died.. , 32 GB 3600-16 Trident Z64 GB 3600-17 Trident Z, 750W Corsair CX750 80+ Bronze,  MSI 8GB RTX 2080 Super Ventus XS OC, WD 4TB and WD 6TB 7200 HD,  Windows 10 V.1909 - Now on Win10 V.21H2, in use 3 4K monitors 2x32 Samsung 1x27 LG  3840x2160.

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8 hours ago, John F said:

Another in-depth post. Your screenshots always come with a "bonus" of fascinating information.

I couldn't say it better, so +1 !! 😉

Is this the Carenado version for FSX?


Edited by bernd1151
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Any attempt to stretch fuel is guaranteed to increase headwinds

My specs: AMD Radeon RX6700XT, AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, 32GB RAM, 34" monitor, screen resolution: 2560x1080

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I still fly the Carenado's version with Mods in P3D2.4 to this day! Might even take it for a flight this afternoon, love the plane and thanks for the great screen shots!.



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Folks: Appreciated all the feedback...glad you liked the pictures of this airplane...!!

And, as someone is prompted by this set to take it out for a spin by themselves, this afternoon, I indeed consider that as my effort, here, well-spent...🙂....


6 hours ago, bernd1151 said:

Is this the Carenado version for FSX?

Yes, correct, bernd, this is the one from Carenado for FSX...actually for "FSX, P3D v2, v3, v4", it says on their website....


3 hours ago, Jack_Sawyer said:

Excellent information and shots and who can forget Mr. Hoover?

Thanks, Jack. Reference to the Commander would be certainly incomplete without mentioning legendary "Bob" Hoover...

I thought I'd the Carenado "500S SHRIKE AERO COMMANDER" too, but don't seem to have it...I may actually get that one now ...for a bit of more fun and also in honor of Hoover...

Below, I included 2 (freeware) 500S Shrike pictures from Milton's creations...one for the most recognized (N500RA) that Hoover flew for 20 years to thrill generations ....and the other one is in a NASA livery.... These are powered by the Lycoming IO-540 Pistons ...



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