David Amis’s father, W.D. “Bill” Amis, then ran the business, which had around 500 employees at its peak. Oklahoma City was the base for work in Texas, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and all over the country, David Amis said.
He said he “broke in” to the business in 1957 by leading work on a highway job through 9,426-foot Rabbit Ears Pass, straddling the Continental Divide in northern Colorado.
“Aero Commander” doesn’t often come up in conversation nowadays, although it was probably a household word in Bethany in the 1950s. It seemed natural, though, recalling the highlights of a 112-year-old family concern. R.T. Amis Jr. started Aero Design & Engineering Co. in 1950. By 1951, the twin-engine planes, comparable to Cessna, Beech and Piper, were rolling off a plant floor near what is now Wiley Post Airport.
President Eisenhower used Aero Commanders as his personal transport starting in 1955. Rockwell bought the company in 1958 and later became a division of Gulfstream Aerospace, which shut down in 2002.
The most visible result of Amis work is along Interstate 35 in southern Oklahoma where it runs clean through the Arbuckle Mountains and their banded and faulted layers of granite, limestone, dolomite, glass sand, sand and gravel and shale.
The eeriest? The structural excavation that Amis Materials did for nuclear missile bases — silo systems with names like the Atlas E “coffin launcher” series, the Atlas F “superhardened” series, and the largest, the Titan 1 with its two-story Power Dome and two-story Control Dome.
Amis Materials, RIP.