The airplane was a 1958 Cessna 175, a version of the 172 originally equipped with a 175-hp geared Continental 0-300 engine and a fixed-pitch prop. It had been re-engined, under an STC, with a Lycoming O-360 and fitted with a Hartzell constant-speed propeller. The airframe had 2,842 hours when the engine change was made in 1976. The rancher had bought the airplane in 1989, but didn't get around to having an annual inspection done until four years later. At that point, the new engine had 1,488 hours, and the airframe 4,330. The airplane soldiered on another two years and 300 hours before its next annual, in 1995, which was also to be its last. In 1997, a mechanic signed it off for a "one time ferry flight...for the purpose of maintenance." There is no evidence that any airframe maintenance was performed, but the engine was removed and overhauled. It had 1,883 hours at the time. Between then and the accident three-and-a-half years later, there were no entries in the engine logbook.