If I were an airplane, I would be a Cessna 182. Because it “drinks” a bit, but it’s a trustworthy, sturdy airplane. If I were an airplane, I would be the Cessna 182 because it is simple and obvious but delivers what it promises and rarely lets you down. You can’t say it’s pretty, but it won’t scare you with its looks. It’s not nimble, but it climbs well and doesn’t need much runway to take off…
If I were an airplane, let me be a little more specific about it: I’d be a 1970 Cessna Skylane with partly bald tires and in need of a new paint, but with a well working engine bolted to it. I’d still fly with all the original parts, except for the “brains” in the panel, which would be updated, ADS-B equipped and all. I’d be a no-damage-history, always-hangared Cessna 182; an airplane built in the old days, but functional and ready for the new times.
My mother would be a Boeing 727, with its gracious, clean wings, and three engines for better redundancy of care. She would be a classical machine, the most beautiful of her time. One that to this day still soldiers on, working hard, stable and true. My mom would be a 727 because it is the most beloved airplane that I know of. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like the Boeing 727; I’d risk saying that there is no other airplane as universally loved. Not even the Bonanza…
The Beechcraft Bonanza would be that charming, beautiful girl that turns heads wherever she goes. The Bonanza, were it a person, would be a traffic-stopping woman, one you look and then look again, in awe. It is truly inspiring to admire the perfect shapes of the Bonanza—she seems structurally overbuilt, her landing gear is aesthetically perfect and… look at that tail!
But be aware, the Bonanza is not perfect. That sexy tail and the flawless harmony of the wing, positioned well forward on the fuselage, make it rather easy to drive her out of her CG range. You have to be careful when loading the Bonanza, or she might become twitchy and temperamental. She is beautiful, performs well, and is quite comfortable, but don’t push her; she is not a cargo airplane.
My best friend, that’s the cargo airplane. My best friend would be one of those C-130 Hercules, an ugly, ungainly monster that drinks from four cups at a time and makes a helluva noise, just the way we like it. The Hercules is not subtle, but subtlety is not what you want from him. And just like a good friend, he can take it all; he carries a lot of weight, he flies for a very long time, he endures extreme weather and extremely harsh environments. He is just there for you, always, come what may.
My father would be the DC-3. The Douglas DC-3, the old retired warrior—we owe so much to this airplane! He was built in a way that no other airplane is ever going to be built. He was the king of the skies in his time and opened up most of the routes we fly today. He still flies, but not for profit anymore, only as an attraction at gatherings, where everyone is glad just to see him there, to seat under his historic wings, to listen to his old engines roar and to pay homage to this venerable champion.
My brother would be a Cessna 172, which looks a lot like the182 (that’s me) and even though it is older, more versatile, and more popular than me, it makes me feel bigger than I really am when we’re side by side.
My sister would be one of those pampered hangar queens, the little airplane that the family is overprotective of and thinks nobody is good enough to fly her. A shiny Cessna 140, or a Luscombe 8, for example. “Don’t touch her! You’ll leave greasy fingerprints on her polished fuselage!”
It would be an interesting world if we all were airplanes. But in many aspects, it would not be very different from what it is today. After all, what do we all want? To find our soulmate, our travel partner.
Just as it is with us as human beings, our airplane soulmate would not necessarily have to fly tight formation with us all the time. That would increase the risks and might end up transforming a possible long and happy flying life together into a tiring and energy-consuming precision maneuver. The airplane soulmate would be one to fly along with you, to share flying stories with you and to build a great logbook of memories with you. And then park next to you in the hangar, waiting for the next flight.
So how would my perfect airplane-soulmate be? She would be sweet, well rigged, and properly balanced. She would win my heart with her honesty of character and her readiness to remind me, at my smallest slip, that she deserves the best of care and that she will not tolerate complacency. She would be trustworthy and equipped with generous wings to help me guide her through the skies for a very long time, in safety, for better or worse.
And of course, she would have to be pleasant to my eyes, to be beautiful to me.
I think my “dream girl,” the one that would change my life with a swing of her propeller and for whom I’d trade my ailerons for spoilers… that should be a brand new TBM 940, with all her French charm.
But then again, a Piper Malibu, a TTX or a Cirrus would not be bad at all…