1977 Rockwell Commander 114

  • Price: SOLD
  • Registration No.: N4897W
  • Serial No.: 14227
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For those of you concerned about the recent demise of Commander Aircraft Co., take note that Commander will be returning! A group of Commander owners recently made a successful bid for the assets of the bankrupt Commander Aircraft Company and - with financial backing and a professional management team - will soon reopen and once again resume production of this magnificent aircraft.

The most common comment I hear when someone sees N4897W for the first time is "That's got to be the best looking 114 in the country". Having attended the 2002 CAC fly-in and seeing 41 other 112s, 114s and 114Bs, I have to agree.

When you want a plane that is not only mechanically sound, but well equipped and cosmetically outstanding, you basically have three choices - buy new, by an "acceptable" plane and have all the work done, or buy a plane like this one that has already had all the work done. I've owned 97W for nearly three years. During the first year and a half, it was "down" for about NINE MONTHS while all the upgrades and restoration work was being done. Total cost of this work was more than $75,000 - and that doesn't include the continuing cost of a hangar, insurance and (courtesy of Los Angeles County) property taxes while the plane was down. It also doesn't include the weeks of supervised work done by the owner. If you've ever tracked the progress of the annual AOPA sweepstakes plane restorations, you know how much time and (for the owner, frustrating) effort goes into getting an older airplane into this kind of condition - and you know AOPA gets top priority. Here's your chance to get a finished aircraft without all the grief that goes along with getting it done.

97W was purchased as a means of upgrading from N9376J (a 1968 Piper Cherokee 180). A long-distance trip (43 hours of flying) in the summer of 2000 led to the realization that more speed and space were needed if future trips were going to be considered.

As with 76J, 97W needed some post-purchase renovation. While in good mechanical condition, there were some semi-serious cosmetic issues. The paint was nearly 10 years old and while it was kept hangared, the white base coat was seriously crazed, oxidized and flaking in places. The interior was another story altogether. The leather was in fair condition, but it was an ugly brick-red color that was popular when 97W was built. The plastic panels were brittle and crumbling. The avionics were as dated as the interior, but in servicable condition - for the short term. Some upgrades had been done shortly after being purchased by it's original owner. However, with the exception of the autopilot (a King KFC-200), most of it needed replacing to live up to the current owner's expectations.

If you care to see what it looked like when I bought it, peruse the prepurchase photos. You'll see just how much work had to go into 97W to get to the condition it's in today.

In the Spring of 2001, 97W went through a major avionics upgrade - the new equipment is noted in the specifications below.

While down for the avionics upgrade, the interior was completely refurbished. New gray leather seating and headliner - contrasted by white window framing and gray carpet. A proper refurb did, of course, require that the plastic interior trim pieces be replaced. All the interior plastic trim - except for the rear side pieces (which were in servicable condition) were replaced with new pieces from Plane Plastics.

After the avionics upgrade was completed, a new rosewood instrument panel facia with integral lighting was fabricated by Aero Enhancements. Day and night photos of the panel and drawing of the panel layout - which includes all the new avionics - are depicted above.

By the time the avionics and interior were finished, 97W was due for its for it's first annual with it's new owner. Three months later, the few minor squawks were rectified. Additional time was taken to overhaul the propeller, replace the alternator, replace the wing tips, install a NACA dorsal fairing and an enclosed beacon cover.

Once satisfied that everything was in order, I returned to Matthews Aviation near Reno Nevada to have them finish the project with at top-notch paint job. They had painted my Cherokee years earlier, and after 5 years (two of them outdoors) that plane still looked like it had just been painted. The paint was done in a scheme similar to the later 114TC models and it looks great. 97W's been hangared since I bought it, so the paint is still in excellent condition.

Unfortunately, in the past two years, other interests have taken a front seat to aviation and I've found little time for flying. So, now it's time for me to give up the best airplane I will ever own.

All flammable fluid hoses were replaced during the 2005 annual inspection.

All engine ADs and both (yes, there are only two) airframe airworthiness directives have been complied with. The airframe airworthiness directives were done by the Commander Aircraft factory.

TTAF: 2870




* Installed by Aircraft Spruce Avionics in 2001


INTERIOR: 9 (March 2001 by EB's Custom Interiors)

EXTERIOR: 9+ (March 2002 by Matthews Aviation - Yearington, NV)

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