There is a lot to be said about being the most popular and dominant bird in civilian aviation history. Anomalies are rare for such a well engineered flying machine. Like the pilot that guides me, we are a near perfect design. Not the fastest nor the most powerful and may not win any competition, but there is strength in numbers. There are more 172s in the air than any other aircraft. It has set the standard for all others to be judged by.
Like the pilot, we both are required to have inspections at specific intervals to insure airworthiness and flying ability. Our joints and all moving parts are inspected. Oil is analyzed to detect wear. Vital signs are checked on both pilot and aircraft and must be within strict limits.
Our cookie cutter design makes finding replacement parts for us easy. Whether it be cosmetic or life supporting heart or oil pump. As long as recipient and donor are same type all you need is a proper surgeon up to the task and you’re good to go.
Under normal use we both need parts replaced due to wear, like knees and tires. But because of superior design there is no expiration date. There is a best used by date. With proper care and updates the years of service are many.
As we age, we might take a little longer to get moving or use a little more runway, but skills acquired throughout the years are deeply ingrained and second nature, but we are always prepared for surprises. The occasional rabbit or coyote racing across the runway causes little alarm, just a slight evasive maneuver and my stretched out wings lift us skyward so smoothly it would be undetectable except for the weight shift on the seat cushion. My propeller creates subsonic sound waves as it chops holes in the air and creates a slight vacuum that pulls like a magnet. The acceleration causes the propeller to take smaller and smaller bites of the thinning air creating a mesmerizing hum. My wheels are of little use now but spin in the passing air as if taking credit for the airspeed. My tail guides us straight as an arrow as we climb toward the deep blue sky.
The first flight after being torn apart probed, inspected, lubed and reassembled is not just a flight – it’s more like a first voyage. Checking to see that all systems and components are functioning properly. Given a good bill of health and systems check another year of flight is just a taxi way away.