Aero Commander 200 N2989TAugust 21st, 2014
MY INTRODUCTION TO THE MEYERS/AERO COMMANDER 200
In 1970, I was in Kansas City, Missouri working on my commercial pilot’s license through the G.I. Bill at Kansas City Flying Service, an Aero Commander dealership along with the flight school. When it came time for the Complex/High Performance flight time required for the commercial license, my instructor said we would use the Aero Commander 200 (N2971T) that the dealership used as a demo airplane. On my first flight, I thought to myself, ‘if I ever were able to afford an airplane, the 200 is the one I would want.’
PURCHASING THE PLANE
In 1987, my flying career was doing great with Federal Express, but my marriage was not. After the divorce, I started looking for a 200. In 1988, I picked up a copy of Trader Plane and found an ad for two Aero Commander 200. Gid Miller was a broker for the 200s and a captain for TWA. I called him in the fall of 1988 to inquire on the two 200 airplanes that he had for sale, which were N2988T and N200FE.
N2988T was Gid Miller’s personal airplane, which was featured in Air Progress magazine, dated September 1975, and is now owned by Ross Warner. Gid Miller also owned N200FE. He had leased it to the flying club called Flying Eagles in Indiana. He took back possession of the airplane in 1988; it had sat outside in Richmond, Indiana for four years. Gid had N200FE ferried to Pittstown (N85) Alexander Airport, New Jersey on April 1988. Pete Kluler, the Inspector of Aircraft, had the engine overhauled, prop and annual inspection as well as with other repairs.
The airplane was in Pittstown, NJ, and I had a friend who lived in Allentown, PA who has an I.A. and is a Federal Express pilot. I talked to him about N200FE, he said he would go to Pittstown, and inspect it for me. He videotaped his examination of the plane and sent me the tape, which I still have. When I saw the tape I was overwhelmed with the work that had to be done. N200FE was ready on January 10, 1989 with a registration number of N200FE, Federal Express Airplanes registration ended with FE. It was an omen that I have this airplane. On January 12, 1989, I jump seated on Federal Express to Newark, NJ to meet Gid Miller and go to Pittstown, NJ to pick up N200FE. Unfortunately, Gid Miller and his wife were passengers on TWA flight 800 that went down off the coast of NY.
MAKEOVER OF THE PLANE BY PARD and KEITH DIVER
I flew the airplane for the first time with Gid Miller (N85) Pittstown, NJ. I left the next morning for Pine Bluff, Arkansas for new avionics, then to Ada, OKlahoma for new paint and the original registration number of N2989T.
My goal was to make N2989T look like it did when it rolled out of the Aero Commander factory in Albany, Georgia on December 19, 1966, except for the avionics. The paint shop did a good painting job the original paint scheme and colors. After leaving Ada, I returned to Memphis for the interior work. Fortunately, N2989T still had the original red upholstery installed. The upholstery shop matched the color of the vinyl upholstery pretty close.
September 1989, my Dad and I flew the N2989T to Tecumseh, MI 3TE for an introduction to Pard and Keith Diver. Wow, what an emotional experience! We landed and parked the airplane, climbed out and shook hands with Pard and Keith Diver. They then went straight to the airplane and looked her over, under, inside and out. They discovered a lot of things that needed attention, so Dad and I decided to stay and worked on the airplane.
The first thing Keith handed me was a wire brush and told me to get all the rust off the steel parts in the wheel wells, so I went to work while Pad and Keith did their “ MAGIC” on other items on the airplane. I was able to learn N2989T from the experts. Ten days later, Dad and I flew home to Memphis.
KEITH DIVER, ME and PARD DIVER
RETURN TO ALBANY, GEORGIA (BIRTHPLACE)
June 1990, I contacted Bill Brodbeck who formally raced his Meyers 200B (N960D), and was used for the advertising of the Aero Commander 200. Bill was still working in Albany, GA selling for the Ayres Corporation who built Agricultural Spray Airplanes. He invited me to Albany for a visit, so I flew down in N2989T to see the old Aero Commander factory and meet some of the people who built 200s in 1966 and 1967. The builders enjoyed seeing N2989T in front of the factory hangar. I was able to see some of the machinery and the assembly line where the 200s were built. It was a great visit!
RETURN TO TECUMSEH, MICHIGAN
On August 1990, my Dad and I decided to go back to Tecumseh for further work to be done on the airplane. Again, lots of work was done. Pard Diver signed off a new annual, and that would be his last annual. Dad and I left Tecumseh and flew back home again. When we got to Memphis, Keith called and said Pard had passed away on the hangar floor. Dad and I immediately flew back to Tecumseh for the funeral and memorial service.
The story of N2989T could go on and on. Like Vance Vanderford said, “half the fun owning a Meyers-Aero Commander is the camaraderie among us – Meyers enthusiasts.”