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Bill Rhoad, N3296B

Always having a love of airplanes I decided to get my pilots license due to events with my parents. I was employed as an outside salesman for Company in Southeastern PA when my parents, who lived in Ohio, both took ill.

My routine was to work my sales territory until 4:30 on Friday then drive to Cleveland to help them out on the weekends. This became untenable so in August 1985 I decided to pursue my lifelong dream of flying. Driving 16 hours each weekend after driving for my job all week was killing me.

In the next two years I would make the “Cuyahoga County Trip” (N47-CGF) 13 times.


In the mean time I left that job and started my own Company specializing in hydraulic hose assemblies, components & cylinder repairs. That has morphed into ASAP HYDRAULICS with three locations in Pennsylvania Exton, Gap & State College.

After bringing my Dad home in 1987 I no longer flew as the “mission” was complete and I was never one to just fly around the pattern.

Zero monetary units to even consider flying again but the desire was always present.  In 2010 I sold the “B&C” and moved to what I call the ‘Plastic House” Vinyl siding and no painting!

9/9/2012 I Bought 1/10 Share Morgantown Aero Corp. Cherokee 235” (I’m a first time “Owner”) what a different perspective on flying!  My State College store is just about an hour flight form my home field O03 Morgantown, PA. 

Having once been an owner there was only one option…I need to buy a plane.  Once in 2013 when taking N235MA to an avionics shop for what seemed like eternal radio work, I saw a Commander for the first time. Needless to say it left quite an impression on me!

It had a “ramp presence” even sitting in the shop. Of course it didn’t hurt that it was on jacks for a gear swing or some other maintenance. It had a door on the pilot’s side and landing gear straight out of a carrier based plane, it was roomy and “comfy” and I was sold.

Fast forward to June 2020 and I’m actively looking for a Commander.  Having searched in all the usual places and narrowly missed a very interesting plane (Chuck Yeager’s demo Commander 114) I shared my quest with the young owner of my local flight school Ethan Crane. He said “there is a Commander down at Sure Flight at the end of the ramp to be painted, perhaps it’s for sale”.

Sure enough it was. I promptly went down to give “96B” an initial inspection (not that I knew what I was looking at) and proceeded to contact the owner.  The owner was reluctantly selling due to the fact that his wife would no longer fly with him. The clear coat was peeling hence the paintwork. He was offering the plane with a new paint job and would not remove it from the “deal”. I wrote the agreement of sale to be closed with the aircraft delivered “corrosion free in primer” allowing me to design my own paint scheme.

Now as far as the paint scheme goes there’s a story (isn’t there always).

I have always had a passion for Road Racing and have been involved at several different levels since I was old enough to “sign the release”.

Dewitt Binkley @ Sure Flight put me in touch with Craig Barnett @ Scheme Designers to come up with a design. One of my favorite cars was the BMW 3.0CSL of the early 70’s. Affectionately known as the “Bavarian Batmobile” it was I believe the first competition BMW to sport the now famous Red Blue & Purple “M Stripes”. The significance of the colors are as follows.

The light blue is the National Color of Bavarian racing teams (like red is for Italy)  The Red is for Texaco who was BMW’s main sponsor for racing then.  The Purple line between signifies the unity of Team BMW & Texaco blending the Blue & Red to get Purple.

I thought it would be a unique and fun design to put on the plane. I appear to be correct as I get the most wonderful comments about her wherever she goes, even once from the tower @ KLBE!

My racing background Crewing in the Toyota Pro Atlantic Series has given me, I feel, a unique insight into aircraft maintenance. I was schooled in doing things the right way as our Formula Atlantic car would also do 180 MPH but it never left the ground! Little things matter.

I can’t stress enough the value I have found in this owners group with the depth of knowledge and passion for the marque. I don’t know why someone would not be involved if they owned a Commander.

My Grandson Cole has been bitten by the bug and is pursuing a career in aviation. He is currently working on getting signed off in “96B” and close to taking his Commercial check ride.  He had a great time at the COG meeting in Dayton 2023.  A Next Gen Commander driver.

The passion continues….

N3296B prepping N3296B prepping for new paint IMG_1601001 (003) N3296B Bill and Nancy
N3296B exterior1 N3296B exterior1a N3296B future panel N3296B inflight NY
N3296B ext hgr



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