October 2005- When I was 16, the Cessna 172 was big. I mean, much larger than the 150 I had been flying. Four seats, two radios and a more powerful engine. I’ve gone on to fly larger airplanes like the Boeing 777, but the Cessna 172 holds a special place in my heart and I suspect yours as well.
It was the first real cross-country bird I ever flew and the very first new airplane I picked up in Wichita and flew home to Lakeland, Fla. during my senior year in high school. I made five or six trips to Cessna field during 1972—or what I tend to call the “year of no love.”
You see, our school was wracked with the detritus of racial tension, anti-war riots, guns in the hallways and parents roving the institution carrying ball bats to “protect their young’ns.” I was much safer being a low-time pilot in winter weather in an unknown area. Plus, I got a much better education.
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