I remember the drill like it was yesterday. Self-announce the 45-degree entry to downwind by shouting into the Telex hand mic, stow the Telex mic between the knees, power back, carb heat on and work in some flaps as the cabin speaker in the old Cessna 150 screeched with garbled combined radio calls from every Unicom within a 100-mile range. Those were the bad old days of flying without headsets, of course. Then I stepped up a layer in the food chain and blew my college partying wad on a David Clark headset and never looked back. I think my first model was the company's H10-30-you know, the set with the signature green domes, shiny mic boom and clamping pressure higher than a college-age teenager on a Friday night.
It's the airplanes with the first-generation fuel selectors you want to be cautious of. In August 2019 the FAA issued an airworthiness concern sheet (ACS) that requests PA-28 owners and operators of first-gen fuel selectors (these are the round, flat-plate selector assemblies installed in the lower sidewall) to provide operational input. It wants to know if operators have mistakenly selected the Off position instead of the intended Left or Right Tank position. It could turn into an AD.
The SP-400 is ably manufactured by Japan Radio, but for the PJ2, Sporty's found a new vendor called Rexon, a Taiwanese company with a modest line of portable radios, including a VHF aviation model. Because Sporty's didn't like the operating logic of Rexon's off-the-shelf RHP-530, despite its $40 lower retail price, it commissioned Rexon to build a clean-sheet design for its new radio, says Sporty's Doug Ranly. "No one knows about it [RHP-530] because it's not very user friendly. That's one reason we didn't want to sell it because of complications in programming and using it," Ranly says.
In 1977 Cessna introduced the 172 N model, employing the newly developed O-320-H2AD engine and allowing Cessna and Lycoming's common parent to save money and offer slightly more horsepower. Unfortunately, the engineering compromises made in the valve train resulted in camshaft lobes and associated lifters that were quite corrosion intolerant. Cost saving led to minimizing the size of the hardened surface, so the contact pressures became extreme. The design was barely adequate, as long as no rust occurred. But any rust increased pressures beyond what the oil could handle, and metal-to-metal contact would occur, rapidly wearing away the valve train components in as little as a few hundred hours.
The only downside to not getting the FR endorsement on the first time you fly with a CFI is that if your 24 months has expired since your last FR, you can't fly as PIC (that includes solo) until you get a new endorsement. Um, that's also a very good reason for not putting your FR off until the last moment as the realities of aviation karma include delivering lousy weather for the one day you have available for the FR flight before it expires.