By Cole Weatherby
It’s really too bad that my grandfather never got to see me fly an airplane or fly in one with me. He was my aviation hero and played a huge role in kindling my passion for slipping the surly bonds. I hope that he would be proud of the commitment and professionalism I try to bring to flying and caring for this aircraft. I’m pretty sure he would be based on the stories I heard as a kid of his antics aloft. Of course, how could anyone who survived an Army Air Corps service flying the CG-4A combat glider into darkness and death not feel at least a bit invincible.
I entered into a co-ownership of this PA-28R-200 just after starting my training for the instrument rating in 2017. Shout out to my co-owner, Scott, who unfortunately has had a number of health issues that have kept him grounded for the past couple years. I know he will get flying again soon! My journey with this plane has of course involved the whole spectrum of airplane ownership experiences from pure joy to absolute frustration. You don’t own and operate a 50-year-old aircraft without some frustration! Worth it? Hell yes.
Before signing the co-ownership documents and exchanging money, I had a full annual (owner assisted) done on the plane as a prebuy. Though this may have been a rare opportunity and was a bit more expensive, it ended up being so helpful. I highly recommended doing it if possible. I also worked out a deal with the co-owner to be able to fly the plane a bit before that annual was done, so I had narrowed in on some areas that needed attention.
Noting the standard advice to buy an aircraft with the panel you want, I quickly threw that out the vent window and scheduled the panel upgrade. We installed dual Garmin G5s with GAD 29B, a GTN-650, GTX-335 for the ADS-B, and JP Instruments EDM 830 with fuel flow. The plane was already equipped with a solid S-TEC 30 with altitude hold, so we kept it and the Arrow now has GPSS thanks to the G5s. While waiting for the panel upgrade, I tried to troubleshoot an issue with the display on one of the BendixKing KX 155s and ended up making the situation way worse. Oh well, nothing $2,200 and a fun flight up to Bevan Aviation in Wichita, Kansas, couldn’t cure. I ended up with a like-new KX 155 with a new LED screen, which is still in the plane and working great! The panel was done by Pippen-York, a fine avionics shop in Fredericksburg, Texas. It was a long, grueling few winter months being grounded while that work was done, but well worth it.
This airplane was a perfect learning platform for IFR flying, and I wrapped up the instrument rating in June 2019. My wife, Kim, and I have had many adventures in the plane including trips to Santa Fe, New Orleans, and a multi-day journey to Sumter, South Carolina, to fetch a coveted Bradford watermelon. This summer we are off to Durango, Colorado, for some cooler weather and mountain flying! If you have a flying companion with any motion sickness issues, I highly recommend the Reliefband products. Well worth the cost! Also worth the cost is a digital carbon monoxide sensor with an alarm. I encountered some CO in the cockpit when returning to Texas from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 and know that situation could have gone much differently had I not glanced at that old school CO card detector at the right time.
N407TL is a fun and capable cross-country IFR machine, and with the recently installed Knots 2U gap seals and gear fairings, it cruises at 140 knots TAS reliably on a reasonable amount of 100LL. I take my responsibilities as conservator of this quinquagenarian flying machine seriously and try to maintain it the best I can and fly it often. I know there will be plenty of frustrations to come — fingers crossed for the upcoming wing spar inspection — but the rewards of airplane ownership speak for themselves. If this airplane cruised at 200 knots, I’d keep it for the rest of my life. As it is, I’ll keep it until my love of logging hours is eclipsed by a need to get there a bit quicker, and hopefully pockets that are a bit deeper! To all my fellow Piper owners and flyers out there, clear skies and tailwinds! Or, maybe just skies and airplanes, since a few clouds and a little slower ground speed often only enriches and prolongs the fun!