Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

$1,000 Per Month Airplane

An affordable way to own

$500 Per Month?” article [October 2007] was so overwhelming, we decided to take the idea to the next level. " />

1000 per monthBecause response to Plane & Pilot’s “$500 Per Month?” article [October 2007] was so overwhelming, we decided to take the idea to the next level.

In the aforementioned article, young pilots and seniors alike could see that the dream of flying and owning an airplane was closer to reality than previously thought, and we busted the myth that owning a plane was just a rich-man’s game. For the future of general aviation, everyone should be encouraged to become pilots and airplane owners and have a vested interest in the future of flying.

Next to actually flying, few things are as fun as thinking about what airplane to buy. $500 per month buys a decent but modest airplane; $1,000 is in an entirely different ball game. (Caution: Discussions at airport cafés can get intense on this subject. If you ask 20 pilots for their take on the best airplane, you’ll get 20 different answers. The correct answer is that they’re all good, but some offer a better overall value.)

Let’s find our “best of class” $1,000 per month airplane. To get the most flying for the dollar, let’s stick with airplanes that are simple to fly, don’t require a lot of expensive maintenance, aren’t beginning to suffer from age-related “surprises,” aren’t excessively expensive to insure and don’t require specialized training.

$1,000 per month can buy a nifty 220 mph twin-engine Aero Commander 680, a Cessna 310, a Beech Baron, a Piper Lance, an older A36 Bonanza or several other very cool airplanes—but you’d have zero left over for gas, insurance and maintenance, so let’s avoid airplanes that are a mechanic’s or gas pump’s best friend.

Let’s also compare the type of $1,000-per-month airplane we can own and fly under two different ownership paths: sole ownership and joint ownership.

The benefit of sole ownership is that it’s your airplane, always available for you 24/7 and you know who’s been flying it. A joint-ownership arrangement opens up the possibilities to a newer, faster or six-seat airplane by splitting up the largest monthly costs, but one drawback to joint ownership is that you may have to really search for like-minded partners if you’re not in a large, metropolitan area.

We’ll do the math on each arrangement. Of course, both methods of ownership have upsides and downsides. (See “Partnership Aircraft” from the November 2007 issue for an in-depth look at the pros and cons of joint ownership.)

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