Don’t break anything for a change

Back in 1997, I was working as mechanic at a flight school. We had many Chucks and I don’t think we had a single day, let alone a week, without any squawks. To be fair, the school was in California operating many planes that flew every day because of the awesome weather. And also, a lot of squawks weren’t the students actually breaking something. There were a lot of write-ups that could easily be fixed in a matter of seconds, like “transponder won’t report altitude” and me finding out it was simply just switched into the “off” mode, that sort of thing.
It really speaks for the Cessna product from back when that they actually didn’t break all that much unless it was student induced. I bet, in their wildest dreams, Cessna never imagined these planes get that old and fly that many hours.

What I find even more crazy is what a used Cessna 172 costs on todays market! Even a former flight school one! It’s insane!


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5 comments on “Don’t break anything for a change
  1. Dom says:

    Personally, I enjoy the things that get squawked in the first place. I was looking through the squawks on one of our planes and found, “throttle quadrant feels different from our other planes”. Ok… how is it different?

  2. Franck Mée says:

    I think Cessna actually hoped those aircraft wouldn’t last that long.
    We just had a birthday party for the eldest plane in our aeroclub: she’s a Reims-Cessna 150, just 50 years old, probably in her 15000 hours or so. Still looks fresh, still flies great, still gets away with those “50 ft off the ground, let’s flare now, stall warning shouldn’t scream for more than 10 seconds” students. She actually still has her original firewall – whereas other 150s we own usually bent at least one during a front-heavy landing.
    She’s probably had 5 or 6 engines, so she made money for Continental, but she’s been really bad business for Cessna. 😀

  3. Fbs says:

    Well, 50 years is the average age of my club’s fleet, and the most timed 150 is close from 18000 hours, and we have to change it’s engine again. It’s not the oldest, it is a « L » born in 1973 !
    Yep. Used plane prices have gone insane in the recent years. But new planes are not only expensive to the point they can hardly sell , but for most of them, they are crap that will never last as long as the 150s and the 172s, not to mention the prices of parts. A 2 seater trainer for 300€/hours, once you factor in all costs, no thanks, even with TVs on the dashboard, and if the thing only sips less than 20 litres per hour

  4. J Segal says:

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Chuck’s been outdone. By a LONG shot.

    There was a poor sod who flew [pilot’s name, plane type, and registration redacted because the fella’s probably suffered enough] exactly a year ago. I don’t think he successfully landed the plane once on the entire week-long trip. Crashed it between 4-8 times, yes, but not properly landed. [The number is not an exaggeration. The NTSB counted 4, the pilot counted 7, I counted 8.] The NTSB report, his apparently-voluntarily-written personal statement, and the associated article from the Traverse City Record-Eagle, all three of which are available through Kathryn’s Report, are worth a read.

    You can’t make this up.

    For those not interested in digging the reports up, during the course of the trip, the pilot/”mechanic” [well, he technically repaired it every time] suffered from a bad brake cylinder on several occasions, several new tires and/or inner tubes, two broken or failed landing gears, multiple severe elevator trim malfunctions (including an improper choice of servo for the aircraft), an aileron trim malfunction, a broken flap, a damaged nose, a damaged tail, twice losing hydraulic pressure, several reversed hoses, gauges, and/or wires, and weight-and-balance issues. The pilot powered through his first night landing in decades and his first water landing ever, along with powering through multiple runway lights, a sign, and enough sagebrush and grass to fill a football field. Did I mention that he did not hold an ASES rating and was flying an amphibian?

    Regardless, a happy 4th to all, and fly safe.

  5. J Segal says:

    A quick mea culpa –

    I ran into that story about 4 weeks ago during unrelated research. I could have instead probably spun a yarn about flight schools, students, flight instructors, and/or bad decisions; or poor airmanship of “this guy I knew” (which isn’t a euphemism for me at all, I resent the implication, and in any event I was really really sorry). God knows I’ve screwed up enough times, so I don’t mind hearing about the occasional mistake, no matter how stupid or impulsive, since I could someday be or could have been just as guilty of it.

    [I do draw a line, because risking your own neck is one thing, but someone else’s is an entirely different can of meat. That includes barrel rolls in traffic patterns – which I’ve never done, but I saw someone do maybe two weeks ago. Before you ask, no, it wasn’t me, no, I don’t know who it was, no, I don’t care to find out, and no, I don’t remember where, other than the immediate surroundings. But I’ll mention it because on the very-off-chance that the pilot is reading this, and you definitely know who you are, you may have skill, but you’ll give all of us a bad name if you keep it up, because doing aerobatics *directly* over trafficked interstate-type highways at those altitudes doesn’t end well, pal…]

    Anyway, there’s nothing I could say that would top that tale.

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