As I prepared to climb back in the airplane, I found myself looking at the Cheetah in a new and uncomfortable light. In the 300-plus hours I'd flown her, we'd been through a lot, but she'd never let me down. In a sense, I looked at us as friends, as much as a woman and a machine can have that kind of relationship. I'd come to trust her. It was not a blind trust, of course, for I knew that mechanical parts could always fail. But the main selling point on this plane when I bought it was its 85-hour, factory-overhauled engine, and aside from some fouling of the spark plugs, it had never given me a minute's trouble.