It won’t go in until the 100-hour, which should be near the end of the month. But it’s here and waiting for some downtime to get it in! Less than a month from saying goodbye to a dim, shaky, backward-reading wet compass.
UPDATE: The timeline moved up! Looks like it should be in and working by this weekend. No, I didn’t get 100 hours that quickly, but instead the TFR over KRHV provided an opportunity to do this while the plane wasn’t flying. The heading bug/autopilot misregistration should be fixed at the same time.
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.
N194SP was selected for a specific reason: it’s perfect for its mission. I’d wondered for a long time who buys Cessna 172SP’s. It’s slow. It’s expensive. It’s not very fuel efficient. And the avionics on the round-dial versions, while not terrible, aren’t anything to write home about either. And yet, I purchased one.
I don’t know why it was such a mystery to me. The Skyhawk is a training aircraft. It doesn’t have to be fast. It doesn’t have to have great avionics. Fuel efficiency doesn’t matter if you’re not directly paying for the fuel. And cost is relative: the comfort of having a newer, modern aircraft under you when you’re not yet squared away with the concept of a mile of sky under you is worth a fair amount to many pilots. Those pilots included myself: I trained predominantly in 172S for my PPL.
Of the things it does have going for it, the most important is that it is the training standard. It’s a base from which the majority of us learned to fly. This standardization draws students to this aircraft, as pilots who have not flown a 172 in one form or another are pretty rare. It’s a stable, predictable, forgiving platform from which to learn how to fly both visually and by instruments.
I had two criteria for the aircraft I purchased. First, I was putting this aircraft on leaseback. I needed it to be flown to make that worthwhile. 172SP get flown. The current 172S aircraft on the line at Trade Winds are doing about 60-70 hours every month. That should be enough hours to make doing a leaseback arrangement a benefit to myself as an owner. Second, I’m going to getting instrument rating in this aircraft, so it needed to fill that role as well.
Cessna 172 SP Skyhawk it was.
One week ago, I bought an airplane. I own an airplane. An airplane! I’m still letting that reality settle in. I’ve been a certificated pilot now for four years, but this is the first time I have an aircraft with my name on the title.
She’s a 2003 Cessna 172S with 3000 hours on the clock. As small aircraft go, that’s pretty new. N192SP is printed on the side. White and with red striping, it’s a pretty standard looking 172.
I’ll post more details later, but for right now, I just want to get this story started with some thanks going out:
Terry McGee at McGee Aviation for brokering this deal for me.
Walt Gyger at Trade Winds Aviation for hosting the aircraft on their line.
John Heldt, also of Trade Winds, for helping me ferry the plane home.
And, of course, my wife, Sarah, for allowing me the opportunity to pursue this passion.