Strength of GA?

well, sometimes people do post about how quick the annual was (inspection plus whatever maintenance).

I did have one annual (inspection etc) that was completed within 24 hours, and included a new muffler being ordered, delivered, and installed. Of course, it was a pa-28-140 that the previous year had the engine overhauled and a whole bunch of other stuff done. We weren't trying to set a record, it's just the way it worked out (long night, early start the next day).

Sometimes it works out, sometimes not.
the thing that scares me the most about ownership is excessive downtime for maintenance.
Depends. As mentioned, if you only base that on internet stories you're only using a small percentage of the overall industry. Based on what I've experienced less than 10% may run into major maintenance issues and the ones you do read about 50% of them are one-sided stories where half the facts are missing. But if you look hard enough at those horror mx stories you'll find they all have common causes that have been consistently repeated over the years for the same reasons. However, as an owner you have more control over this than you may realize.

It starts up front with being a knowledgeable and engaged owner. But treating your aircraft as your truck or your lawnmower or "justifying" not to follow the recommended guidance because it "costs" too much, then yes you will up your odds to have more mx problems with possibly a major one. Regardless, it all boils down to what kind of owner you want to be and how you decide to maintain your aircraft.
GA is strong for me. My wife and I are trying to get to Hawaii today. We booked what eventually (through several schedule changes and phone calls) became a one-stop itinerary on Delta, leaving early in the morning from an airport 2 hours from our home. This involved spending almost $300 on a hotel to catch the early departure. We got to the airport this morning and the flight was delayed 5 hours, with no prior notification. They wouldn’t even take our checked bags until 2 hours before the delayed departure time. So now we are stuck roaming around town with two weeks’ worth of luggage all morning, for a flight that will probably also not happen, going to connections where we are almost guaranteed to miss the plane and/or lose our luggage. On the bright side, we have a few hours to say a final goodbye to our favorite suitcases and all the things inside them. (Or at least the latter. Mom informed me that the gift she got me for Christmas was stolen from her checked bag en route this week.)

In the course of a full hour of refusing to do anything for us and saying that our new itinerary (with 30 minutes to get across MSP and 40 for LAX) is the only way Delta can get us to Hawaii at all, the Platinum Medallion phone support supervisor also told me 4 different lies about the reason for the delay not being their fault. The plane’s altimeter is broken and needs maintenance. The airport weather is too bad. (Clear and >10 at that time with slower than typical winds for here.) The altimeter setting wasn’t reported at the field. (AWOS reported 29.73.) Finally, the airport radar was out of service. (There is no radar at this airport.) Meanwhile, their earlier also-delayed plane was taking off. Had we been allowed on that one, we would be having breakfast at MSP near the gate for the nonstop to HNL, on which we had purchased a first class upgrade. If we have a seat at all (neither the app nor the kiosk will issue a boarding pass), our MSP-LAX leg will be downgraded to steerage and we will have to hold our carry-on bags on our laps for 5 hours.

I had considered flying myself the ~3 hours to a hub and then taking a mainline-only trip to Honolulu. I decided against that because of the uncertainty of weather in November. Huge mistake. My 50 year old piston engined non-FIKI unpressurized airplane has better dispatch reliability than Skywest and at least when I have a problem I don’t get lied to about it. I recently logged me 1,000th hour and I only remember one trip where I had planned to fly GA and couldn’t, compared with my string of abysmal airline luck over the years.

I think that the reality here is that some member of our flight crew wasn’t able to satisfy the 8-hour rule until 12:00 today. Or just didn’t show up for work. And now, instead of Hawaii, I anticipate spending my hard-earned vacation at a series of airport hotels in random cities. All because I chose to fly with an airline at which I am on track to million-mile status instead of flying myself.

In conclusion, GA is growing stronger every day, relative to commercial travel options in America.
Appreciate it, guys. I haven't given up hope and would love to own - just waiting on my wife's work situation to shake out so we'll know where we'll be living. I'll have a lot more confidence (or not!) once I can sit down and figure out where the plane will be based, who will be working on it, and so on. She's in the home stretch of her training - we should know in the next few months!
The rising costs don't help, but the thing that scares me the most about ownership is excessive downtime for maintenance. Stories on here about six month annuals, or year long engine overhauls (if you can find anyone to do it at all, apparently) - I pay $85/mo to my flying club and get ****ed about writing that check when I don't fly - I can only imagine how I'll be when paying $2K or more in fixed costs for an airplane waiting on parts or a mechanic to find the time to work on it.
I’ve always been fortunate in 18 years of ownership. Engine overhauls in 30-45 days. Annuals in a couple of weeks. I brought the Velocity in yesterday to get the gear doors adjusted after the repair and I was in and out the same day.

Some of it comes down to planning before ownership. Find a shop that isn’t swamped with customers and develop a good relationship with them. If looking for an airport to keep your aircraft, reliable maintenance is a consideration. I was thinking about moving a few years back to fly a different helicopter (H135) but the airport I would move my aircraft to had no on site maintenance facility and no hangars either. So, you really gotta shop around.