Pilots are often asked to name their favorite airplane and for me, the answer’s always been easy: N400BS, a 1981 Cessna 421C I flew for three years in the early 1990s. We met under unusual circumstances; I was flying freight and looking for a better gig, when I noticed the pristine twin sitting in a maintenance hangar at the San Luis Obispo, California airport. I ran the tail number through the FAA database and quickly located the owner, a local businessman with the initials BS.
“How did you know I was looking for a pilot?” he asked. “I haven’t even run the ad yet.”
Then he told me the airplane was in the final stages of a double engine change, the result of rough handling by his former pilot. We talked a bit and went out to lunch; I had a lot of twin Cessna time and the job was mine if I wanted it.
Over the next 36 months, 400BS and I developed a mutual trust—I’d keep it safe and well maintained, and it would run like a Swiss watch, in VMC, IMC, whatever. We were a common sight all up and down the west coast; the boss did a lot of business in the Los Angeles basin and in the Bay Area, and used the airplane the way most people use a car.
While I’ve long since moved on to other pursuits, and other airplanes, I like to check in on 400BS from time to time to see what it’s up to. It’s still flying for a living; now for some entity called Corporate Flight International, Inc., in Aspen, Colorado. And, it’s been getting some fresh air. Recent destinations include Flying Cloud, Laramie, and Pine River Regional. Check out FlightAware, to see where your favorite (former) airplane’s been recently.