Selling Our Cherokee 235: I was Simply Katy's Caretaker for Eight Great Years

9:54 AM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

In October of 2007, I departed Whiteman Airport in the busy Los Angeles basin in a dream ship, one that I had waited my whole life to acquire. The paperwork I was carrying said she was N8527W, but a cold, hard registration number was not befitting enough for the tough but kinda sexy girl I was flying, she had to have a name. When I got back to Eugene Airport and showed her to my wife for the first time, that name was created.
And her name was Katy.
There was never any clear explanation of why she was named Katy, only "because that's her name." Well, I was blessed with an incredible wife and life partner, so if she says the plane's name is Katy, that was fine with me. I had a new (to me) airplane, and one dream had come true.

As I said, it was 2007, one year(ish) before our economy crashed and burned in 2008. Business was grand, there was money in the bank, and we had a real need to find faster, more efficient transportation between my offices in Oregon and some of our ad agency clients in Central California. Katy fit the flight profile perfectly, reasonable speed, long range, comfortable, and she could carry four adults and 200 pounds of gear and still tanker 84 gallons of fuel while staying under legal takeoff weight.

We made many, many trips between Oregon and California, using the convenience of private air travel to pack several stops for business and pleasure into each round trip. We'd stop in Fresno so I could shoot theatrical photos for a big opera company there, and either buzz south to L.A. or San Diego or northwest to the San Francisco bay area to visit family.

Over the roughly 325 hours I have owned and flown Katy, she's been about as great an airplane as any owner could ask for. Nothing big ever developed, because as the 26th Cherokee 235 ever to come off the Piper line in Vero Beach, she was built like a tank, a solid, straight flyer with a very good engine. Piper builds great airplanes, just look at all the Piper J3 Cubs still happily serving their owners.

Oh sure, there was that time we were departing Eugene in full business attire to head to Fresno when the starter decided to commit suicide, breaking clean in half and taking the ring gear with it. And I visited the avionics shop a few too many times, sorting out 50 years worth of strange wiring. But the big things always served me well, a Lycoming 0-540 that just purred, no corrosion problems and flight controls that stayed centered in straight-and-level mode.

But as our business changed, our flight profile for Katy changed as well. For one reason or another, we shed most of the clients we had in California, and after earning my instrument rating in 2008, we rarely flew her very far. Two passengers were the norm, and I never came close to loading her up with the all the weight those gigantic Hershey bar wings could carry. At 11-12 gallons per hour, chasing hamburgers or just punching holes in the sky got to be quite an expensive deal when fuel topped $6.00 a gallon there for a while.

So recently we knew the time to sell her had come. It took far too long to find the right buyer, not by an omission of effort by my broker, but due to the extremely soft general aviation market. To say it is a buyer's market would be a gross understatement. But David Fill of Airplane Owners Podcast (listen free on iTunes) finally found the right person who needed this airplane, and the deal was done.
Today, the new owner came and picked up Katy, and I am sure she will be in great hands. I do not have seller's remorse, because I believe these older (technically vintage) airplanes, like all airplanes, have a soul and are simply passed along to the next person who gets to smile when the hangar doors slide open before each flight.
And like the Old Growth Douglas Fir trees in my Oregon yard that are over 250 years old, we do not own much of what we touch or temporarily possess, we are merely caretakers. Katy has passed through several caretakers in her time, and each has treated her with the respect she deserves, cleaning off her bugs after a summer flight, topping her oil and generally making sure she stays in great shape for the next in a long line of caretakers.

I expect that some day in my future, I'll be hiking through the North 40 at Oshkosh, and I will stumble upon her once again. Her paint may have changed, and you can be sure she will have had a panel upgrade just in time for 2020. But down deep, she'll still be my Katy, and it will be so incredible to see that she is still at it, still creating joy, generating smiles and opening up the skies for another caretaker.

I need to thank my wife Julie for her never-ending support of my flying addiction, she was always willing to open the checkbook when Katy needed something. She has always been a great flying partner, and just like in life, when it came to owning an airplane, Julie's always had my back. I owe her big time for allowing me to enjoy eight great years of airplane ownership. Not everyone can say they've done that, owned their very own personal flying machine.
Katy flew away from my life today, and my temporary possession. But I can promise you that the memories that lovely old girl helped me create will stay with me always. I can only hope she feels the same about me.

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