Bill Corbett spent decades flying his trusty Cessna 172 every workday out of Newport News and up and down the coast, searching out Atlantic menhaden for the commercial fishery.

A professional fish-spotter before retiring last year, Corbett and his aircraft flew together through storms and turbulence. Twice they almost went down in flames. Once, the little four-seater got struck by lightning.

"That airplane and I rode through some nasty stuff together," Corbett, 63, said Thursday from his home in Poquoson. "And it held together for me. … It was a loyal machine for me, keeping me alive."

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