About a year ago, I embarked on a new journey, that of airplane ownership. It has been an exhilerating ride, one of joyous moments, deep contemplation, lots of learning and hours of simply fantastic flying. I could not be happier with "Katy" right now, she's hitting purrfectly on all cylinders, both figuratively as well as literally.
It has taken a while for me to feel really comfortable in the plane. The first 20 hours or so were spent getting to know her, but now she feels like my favorite pair of jeans. I can reach for switches without looking, know exactly how hard the door needs to be slammed to close properly, and how weird she flies if the fuel is not managed precisely throughout the four tanks embedded in her wings. And YES, those tip tanks do create a sort of centrifuge effect, 102 lbs. of liquid hanging at the outermost end of a wing will do that.
When I bought Cherokee 8527W, she came with a fresh annual and pitot/static certification. Except for 2-3 tiny things like ELT batteries and the need to swing the compass, she came through that annual fine, and despite it being close to 45 years since she left the Piper factory as the 28th 235 ever produced, she still is rock solid and airworthy.
But it's been just about a year now that she's been in the family, and you KNOW what that means:
Yes, I could fly her back to Van Nuys where the last guy who did an annual on her is based. He knows the plane, but what happens if he finds something that grounds her...or something that needs parts ordered? I'd be flying home commercial, then back down later to pick her up. Let's not EVEN talk about the fuel costs to get her down to VNY. While the no squawk annual with him was $800 because he knew the plane, the chance of maybe being stuck in Los Angeles is not attractive to me.See, here's the deal...when you take your airplane to a new A/P for it's first annual, everything comes down to trust. Is the guy trustworthy? Unlike an automobile mechanic who isn't charged with some sort of DOT sign-off to deem the car roadworthy, with an A/P, the entire flying future of the airplane is in his hands. An A/P with low ethics could easily just say "you need to pull the wings and re-shimmy the wackenator drive shaft access hole bolt pins" and whatcha gonna do? He's already got your plane in a zillion pieces on his hangar floor, you either pay up and he signs it off, or you rent a U-Hual to truck the parts and pieces to someone who can put it back together. Either way you are screwed.
So in shopping for a guy up here to do my next annual, I think I have found one who will do me right:
I have had other owners tell me he's legit, and face-to-face, he seems like a straight up guy. He's changed my oil once, and was very thorough and loved the plane. Yes, he's at $1,100 for a "no squawk" annual, but that includes familiarizing himself with the logs, including all AD compliance. In mid-October, she goes in and I expect no real surprises. I'm going to estimate the final bill right now to be $1,785.33, due to one small fiberglass cowling fix I know needs repair. I base that on (a) my positive attitude, and (b) my belief that you get what you manifest, and I am manifesting an easy annual with just a couple of fixes needed.Will I be right? Will I be way off base? Will I need my wackenator drive shaft access hole bolt pins repaired/replaced before flight? Check back towards the end of October, and we'll see how close my prediction is to reality.