Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Buy To Fly

Rent versus own: What’s best for you?

“I researched various airplanes to see what would suit my needs and found a flight school that trained their students in the Cirrus, which was the airplane to which my research had led. I wanted to gain familiarity with the airplane before making the leap.

“Once I got my PPL, I purchased a Cirrus SR22 and quickly discovered that I really needed my instrument rating to make flying more reliable, particularly out of Santa Monica, my home base. Doing my instrument training in my own plane gave me an incredible level of comfort as I was already familiar with the systems and I had fewer things to try to figure out, while training in the crowded airspace around Los Angeles.

“Plus, in using my own airplane for the instrument training, when I was finished, there was no transitioning to another airplane. I was ready to file instruments immediately and was totally comfortable doing so. Looking back, I would have done it no other way. I am looking forward to doing most of my commercial training in my SR22, as well.”

Rent Or Buy?

The buy-to-fly concept has a huge number of advantages and a significant number of disadvantages. Many of the advantages, such as scheduling and familiarity with the airplane, are intangible and don’t necessarily reduce costs. The disadvantages would appear to increase the costs to the point that it’s, at the very least, a wash when compared to renting, or maybe a little more expensive.

The intangibles, however, often override the hard, cold financial facts, giving the student something that pure numbers can’t quantify. So, the decision becomes one that’s very personal and will change with the individual and his or her situation. There really is no “wrong” decision.

Finding The Right Airplane

The Internet has made finding a new or used airplane much easier than in the “old” days. Here are three great sources for finding aircraft:
When you sign up on the site (it’s free), you’ll get all sorts of free information, including a buyer’s guide on the proper way to buy, finance and insure your aircraft. You’ll also receive goodies, like an owner’s guide from ASA, a carbon-monoxide de-tector and a free DVD from Sporty’s Air Facts series.
Greg Smith’s website enables users to obtain specific information on a particular aircraft from different sources. That includes getting performance numbers, doing side-by-side comparisons and combining expert reviews and pilot reports.
The Aircraft Partnership Association facilitates shared ownership through a virtual pilot lounge that lists opportunities including partnerships, cooperatives, flying clubs and fractional operators.

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