Having chosen to buy a Cessna 172, which shall I buy? First, some narrowing was done. I wanted something simple to own and that would rent enough and for enough to pay for itself. Older 172 are great aircraft, but I was worried about constant maintenance and depressed rental prices. The 172 R and S models command a premium in the rental market, but cost a bit less to maintain since they are so much newer. They were an easy choice.
I rejected the R model out-of-hand. I’ve flown one. It’s a dog. 160 HP just isn’t enough to motivate the new, heavier 172’s produced since the reboot of the Skyhawk production line. The 180-HP S model provides enough extra umph to make up for the large gain in weight.
So, steam gauge or glass? Steam gauge. This was driven by personal concerns. I’m getting my instrument rating in this aircraft. I want the freedom to be comfortable in any aircraft I choose. Glass is easier than chasing needles. So, chasing needles it is so that I get a broader range of comfort.
OK, what about features? The 172S models were pretty consistent in what features were available. Cloth seats, my preference, were rarely chosen by buyers. ADF are basically dead weight today, so having one wasn’t important. DME were another rare option that doesn’t matter much due to the GPS. That left only one major option, the MFD. And…I mostly don’t care. In the age of iPads, the KMD 550 in the S is a heavy anachronism, but it’s still nice to have.
The GPS itself changed once in lifetime of the round dial 172S. The KLN 89B is a monochrome display GPS. That GPS is unattractive to today’s renters. My minimum requirement became the KLN 94 color moving-map GPS available from 2000 and up. That narrowed my window to 172S from 2000 to 2005.
So, that pretty much settled down what I was looking for. Cessna 172S with round dials. A KLN 94. Beyond that, a good, clean airplane for a fair price. I was about to find out how hard that could actually be to find.