The 1999 Cessna Skyhawk - still the world's most popular lightplane - was initially introduced in 1957, and the Mercedes-Benz of singles, the Raytheon Bonanza, first flew (albeit in a far simpler form) in 1945.
No longer are the radical advances coming only from Beech, Cessna, and Piper - the Big Three lightplane airframe manufacturers - but from Cirrus Design, Stoddard-Hamilton, and Lancair, one-time makers of do-it-yourself experimental airplane kits for hobbyists.
Then there's the complexity of operating and navigating any high-performance lightplane, and the dangers posed by bad weather, mechanical problems, and inevitable pilot carelessness.
No wonder no major manufacturer has bothered to invest in and modernize the personal lightplane in any significant way.
Wakefield is the author of two books on WWII liaison aircraft: Lightplanes
at War: US Liaison Aircraft in Europe, 1942-1947 and Fighting Grasshoppers: US Liaison Aircraft Operations in Europe, 1943-1945.