BRIAN JOHANNESSON COLLECTION
No. 12397. Aero Commander 100 Darter Commander (CF-XNN c/n 269)
Photographed by Brian Johannesson

Aero Commander 100 Darter Commander

04/30/2014. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "Produced in 1968, this aircraft is presently registered in the USA as N269DA. The Darter Commander family stems from the Volaire 10, built by Volaircraft Inc. at Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.

The Volaire 10 was an all-metal high-wing machine with an "omni-vision" cabin somewhat similar to that of later Cessna 150 models. It had a distinctive vertical tail which appeared to be swept forward and the prototype (registered N6661D c/n 10) was powered by an 135 hp Lycoming O-290-D2C engine. In fact, the basic Model 10 was a three-place aircraft with a gross weight of 1,900 lb (862 kg), but the definitive version was intended to be a full four-seater with a 350 lb (159 kg) increase in gross weight. At least four Volaire 10s were completed and the four-seat Model 10A replaced it on the production line. Also known as the Volaircraft 1050, this model was fitted with an 150 hp Lycoming O-320-A2B powerplant.

On JuIy 12, 1965, RockweIl Standard Corporation bought Volaircraft Inc. and the Model 1050 was built by the Aero Commander Division at Albany, Georgia. Initially, this aircraft became known as the Aero Commander 100 (and the few remaining Volair 10s became Aero Commander 100A's) but, in 1968, a number of improvements were made. The front and rear windshields were altered and this version was titled Aero Commander Darter Commander. Production continued until 1969 at which point the model was terminated with 335 units completed (c/n 26 to 360).

In September, 1967, Rockwell obtained certification for a redesigned version following engineering testing on two modified Darter Commanders (c/n 043 and 068). This was the Model 100-180 Lark Commander which was of generally similar construction but had an 180 hp Lycoming O-360-A2F engine and a gross weight of 2,450 lb (1,111 kg). The angular tail of the Darter Commander was replaced by a swept fin and rudder and the engine cowling was larger and more streamlined. The Lark Commander also had new wheel fairings and a much higher quality interior. The first production aircraft was N3700X (c/n 5001) and deliveries started in 1968. Production ceased in 1971 after 213 aircraft had been built (c/n 5001 to 5213).

Rockwell later sold the type certificate for all the Volaire designs to S.L. Industries of Oklahoma City and the Lark Commander then passed into the hands of DYNAC International Corporation. DYNAC announced plans to build a new version of the Lark Commander in association with Christen Industries, but this never came to fruition."

Created April 30, 2014