Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Buy To Fly

Rent versus own: What’s best for you?

Zach Bryson

Zach Bryson

An owner knows exactly what condition his airplane is in and whether it has seen hard landings prior to the upcoming flight. Some owners enjoy the understanding they develop of their airplane that comes from simple tasks—like washing it or helping do some of the routine maintenance.

To Zach Bryson, a 25-year-old captain of a 149-passenger ferry that carries fun-seekers from mainland California to Catalina Island, part of the definition of ownership is getting your hands dirty. And, in his eyes, it’s one of the good parts of ownership.

“I had been in a small airplane only once for 30 minutes when I bought my Tiger. It was used and, although it fit the profile of what I wanted exactly,” he says, “low-time engine and fully equipped for IFR, it was out of annual. So, I got in there with the IA and had him direct me through doing many of the steps required to get it licensed. I learned a lot about the airplane in the process, which I think is important. This way, I knew everything there was to know about the airplane, plus I knew it was well maintained and I didn’t have to worry about it.

“When I started training, we’d jump in the airplane and fly all around the area, visiting other airports. I was getting a lot of experience I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. In fact, by the time I soloed, I was signed off for almost every airport in the area, so when the local pilots went somewhere for breakfast, I could go along.”

Zach says, “I’m sometimes asked whether it worked out financially and, although I’m not done compiling all the numbers, it looks as if it cost about $10,000 to get my PPL, but by the time I got it, I had something over 100 hours, so, if you factor that in, the cost of my PPL via my own airplane wasn’t that much different than going through a commercial school.”

Bobby Preddy

Bobby Preddy

Quite a number of people decide to buy their own airplane after they’ve started training and base their decision on what they’ve experienced during that training. Bobby Preddy, a chicken producer from Carthage, N.C., was one of those.

He says, “I was flying a 172 at the local airport and had actually soloed, but it wasn’t working out with my instructor. For a number of reasons, I really needed someone else. About this same time, I heard about the Allegro and the sport pilot license. I bought an Allegro from B-Bar-D Aviation in Sanford, N.C., and picked up where I left off and finished my sport license in a very short time. I then went back and got my PPL, since there really isn’t that much difference.

“As far as the cost aspect of learning to fly in it, I really don’t know and don’t care. The older 172 was like flying an antique compared to the Allegro. The little LSAs all look and feel modern. To get that in a regular airplane would have been much more expensive. Besides, it took less time to get the light-sport license, so that saved some money, but that’s not why I went this route.

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