9 thoughts on “Lessons Learned: Aircraft Ownership: Just Do It

  1. I bought my plane in 1993, I wanted something with some power and speed. I had access to smaller planes and flew on weekends towing gliders. I ended up with a 1955 F35 Bonanza. It is a great flying plane with many capabilities. If I thought about the mission I would have ended up with something similar to what you have but that was not the point. I fly every weekend, lunch stops, breakfast, fly ins. We go to NJ to see the my inlaws. A smaller plane would have made sense but the Bonanza meets a desire. I cannot imagine now being without out. Great story.

  2. I can attest to John’s education in the flying club. He sold me his membership and now I’m the maintenance office. I do want to have my own plane one day but for now the club works for me.

  3. A great article and one that I will be showing the Treasury Department. She thinks an airplane is a foolish investment. When I run the numbers she can clearly see that it costs about the same as a fully loaded F350 (Ford) with a toy hauler trailer decked out like a man-cave on wheels, so, well within the envelope of credulity. Operating costs? Ha! Yeah it’s expensive when I go alone, but make 3 other people (Dept of Treasury and 2 kids) pay their share and it’s cheaper than a hoverboard, and a lot less likely to spontaneously combust and burn down my house. Well, the cost per hour would be about the same, with the fire crew and deductible included. Seriously, sometimes you just have to look at things like; do I really need a Porsche or can I just get by with a Bonanza?

  4. This article resonates. 17 years ago, after 15+ years of renting planes on a club flightline that resembled nothing so much as a Damascus used car lot, and having experienced an engine failure in a club Skyhawk with my wife and baby aboard, we decided to get our own plane. After much thought it was clear that a 180-200 hp single would fit our “mission” the best. While considering various available used aircraft in this class: 172SP, 172RG, Cardinal, Cardinal RG, Archer, Arrow, Tiger, it became clear that “want” as much or more so than “need” was part of my mission, and these planes were not going to check the “pilot satisfaction” box. Accordingly we bought and owned Peterson-modified Cessna 182 for the next 13 years, and I never once regretted that “step up” decision. Personal aviation is quite costly and an almost entirely discretionary activity; my advice is, buy the most airplane that you can still afford to fly as much as you want and puts a smile on your face whenever you fly it.

  5. Half the time I want something faster, half the time I want something slower but all of the time I’m thankful for what I have. Great article, buy something to fly whenever you can and you will become a better, and happier, pilot.

  6. Great article and it came just when I’m all tied up in knots over when and how and how much for my first airplane. Thanks John, for a bit of inspiration to just go get it done.

  7. I completely with all of you. There is just one problem for me at least one should have the money to buy and maintain it.

  8. Antonio, the author did say “it’s imperative that you make an honest assessment of what kind of airplane you can afford.” Absolutely agree.

    I would add that whatever number you come up with for maximum purchase price, subtract about 10% to cover all of the surprise expenses you’ll discover shortly after bringing it home. No matter how thorough the pre-purchase inspection, there’s virtually always some family of gremlins lying in wait to torment a new owner. We had to repair/replace an auxiliary fuel pump, attitude indicator, HSI, GNS430, right-hand main landing gear, and alternator, all within the first 50 hours on our current plane. And that was after a thorough pre-buy inspection and test flight.

    My aim isn’t to scare anyone away from ownership. Hopefully our story is worse than typical, and in spite of frustrating setbacks we’re still very happy with our purchase. But I do hope to help people avoid getting stuck owning a new-to-them airplane they can’t afford to fly.

    So, make an honest assessment of what kind of airplane you can afford, and then adjust your budget to include the “it won’t happen to me” expenses you’re certain won’t happen to you. 🙂

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