Ted Smith and a team of fellow engineers at Douglas de-riveted and stripped down an A-20 airframe. Ted scaled down the plans and they started the rebuilding his business aircraft. This prototype flew from Santa Monica airport in 1947 and by 1948 was rolling off the production line in Bethany, Oklahoma.
The first Aero Commander had two 190-hp Lycoming O-435s driving wooden-blade Aeromatics. This was the airplane that made headlines when it took off at gross from Bethany, Oklahoma in 1951 and flew non-stop to Washington, D.C. with the left prop in the baggage compartment.