Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Commitment To A Cessna 172B

Dream hot, work hard and make sure there’s money in the pot: The chronicle of a 40-year path to the perfect C-172B

Commitment To A Cessna 172BThere are those seeds, like Jack’s, that explode overnight into giant beanstalks. And there are those, indigenous to certain biospheres, that only germinate when exposed to fire and, so, possibly wait for years to grow.


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“Well, you start out conservative. You have this idea to spend a few bucks, so you buy something old. You mean to just fix it up and fly it to those $100 hamburgers. But because I’d been smitten with the 172B so long ago, nothing was going to stand in my way. I wanted it right.”

So, what’s a guy to do when the fire burns out?

Start another fire. “I went out and bought a Glastar Sportsman [].”

Any advice to pass along to the similarly afflicted—other than don’t get afflicted in the first place?

“Yes. A key is to make a budget list of everything you want to do to the airplane. Most people rebuild to save a bunch of money, which usually turns out to not be true. So, be strict about what you’re going to pay, and when you get there, either stop or marry a very rich person!”

It helps to have some expert guidance along the way. “I was very lucky to have Dave Light, an FAA-designated inspector. He shepherded me through the whole project.

“I’d also suggest joining Cessna Pilots Association []. That was the first thing I did. I called them every other day. They’re a fantastic group. I got hooked on eBay and bought a lot of stuff there too.”

Any regrets?

“Not a one. I cruise about 115 to 118. With the STOL kit, I bring her in over the fence at 60, no problem, and can land short and take off short. On cruise, with that overhauled engine, I lean it back to about 8.2 to 8.4 gph at 5,000 feet.”

Don’t forget the fringe benefits: an airplane that will bring top dollar on the market, and mondo bragging rights.

“I’m pretty much a local flyer—I keep within a 500-mile radius. But everywhere I go, folks come over and look, smile and praise it. I meet a lot of new people that way.”

For Peter Petrus, many green northeast fields have slipped beneath the wings since that day in 1961 when a seed was planted. There have been $100 hamburgers, lots of smiles, two newly rated pilots and winged dreams still to be realized.

Such is the nature of seeds that wait for fire.

Cessna 172B

Labels: Piston Singles


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