So you think about buying an airplane?
How to see the entire process in a way that cuts through the haze and puts you in a flight that is more likely to serve what you want at the time. The smart thing to do to fly in an airplane is to find a mentor pilot. Knowing which aircraft you want is great, but a realistic attitude to the flying requirement is even more important. Knowing your limitations respect the demands of your airplane and be careful when planning your plans. Participation in pilots could pay real dividends.
From Flying an Airplane to Owning One
There is a natural progression of involvement in your love of flying that all starts when you first catch the dream that you really can become a pilot. It’s a big job to get out there and find out how to get through flight training school to get your pilot’s license. The money, time, and effort to get that training is demanding but its actually good that it is because when you finally pass the tests and do your solo flights and you earn that license, you really walk away with a sense of accomplishment.
But you walk away with something else even more exciting which is a license that says that you really are a pilot and the authorization to take an airplane up in the air. It’s an addictive feeling to fly an aircraft and there are lots of opportunities for jobs that will take advantage of this well-earned skill. So just as there is a natural next step after you get a driver’s license to want to own your own car, very often new pilots begin to get the bug to own their own plane after they become addicted to the love of flying.
There is no question that the freedom you will gain from owning your own plane will take your love of flying to the next level. And there are some good economic reasons for taking this step too. Very often you can build a small business of your own just by putting your plane at the disposal of people who need it. Offering charter airplane services to businesses or individuals to get them where they need to go quickly and efficiently can be a good-paying career and give you the chance to fly to lots of places you may have never thought about before.
Owning your own small business built around your plane and your love of flying can go a lot of different directions. You might find a great market offering recreational flights to people who want to get up above the town and look down on it like the birds can do. Often groups will charter an airplane to take them to the nearest city that has a national sports franchise to see the big game. These kinds of customers are often able to pay handsomely for your service and who knows, you might get to see the game too.
You should do your homework before thinking about buying a plane though because not only is it an expense upfront but there will be ongoing costs that go with owning such a unique vehicle. Obviously, you can’t park the plane in your garage or back yard so you will need a hanger to house your airplane day in and day out. Most of us don’t own our own hanger right off the bat so that will be an ongoing cost as well. And if you have your plane in a public hanger at the local regional airport, how will that affect your ability to use the plane at a moment’s notice if you want that kind of access?
But one of the biggest issues that you will need to be prepared to provide for when becoming an airplane owner is maintenance. Perhaps you became fascinated with the mechanical side of airplane technology when you went through flight school. So a career as an airplane mechanic might be ahead for you and it might be tempting to learn to take care of your own airplane as well. But it’s best to at least keep on retainer a qualified airplane mechanic to perform routine maintenance and to “check out” the plane routinely to make sure it is in good working order.
When you get that plane in the air, the last thing you want is for you to not know if the plane is sound mechanical. So while paying a mechanic to service your plane routinely is an expense, it’s crucial that your plane be safe to fly every day. So it’s a worthwhile expense. All of these costs mean that if you want to own a plane, you will have to commit to taking care of it. But the fun of owning a plane and the potential for a high-paying charter business means that it might be a very good next step in your ongoing career as a pilot.
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Although airplanes are fun, they are expensive. And if you want one, you will probably need to fly more often than you think.
Your first flying lesson will be on a trainer airplane, with an instructor. He or she will be very patient with you because when you fly for the first time, you will probably do stupid things.
If you tell a Cessna Pilot that you know a guy who owns a $20 million airplane, he is bound to think you are crazy. Flight schools, country clubs, and Wall Street want pilots, and they are all willing to pay top dollar.
But what about people who are willing to spend half a million dollars for an airplane? Maybe they aren’t crazy. Maybe they are crazy like a fox.
From their point of view, their $5 million airplanes are worth every penny. They’ve been saving for years. When they first start flying, they carefully inspect every flight. They fly around their town, looking for tasty morsels beneath low-hanging clouds. They fly along the ocean’s edge, looking for whales. They fly across mountains, looking for deer.
Their little plane is their ultimate toy. It’s where they want to fly, and where they want to be. (If they don’t own a plane, they at least daydream about flying one.)
Their plane is their ultimate toy, and they want to fly it for as long as possible. So, unless something is really wrong, they don’t fix it up. They buy new avionics, new tires, new wings. But they don’t take it to a shop. They can’t afford it. Instead, they learn how to do the work themselves, so they can keep the plane in perfect shape.
Is buying a private plane worth it?
I often tell people that flying private is for rich people. And that’s true, but there’s a reason. It costs a lot of money to own and operate a private plane, and most people can’t foot the bill. But those who have the money enjoy being one of the few people in the world who can afford to fly without waiting in long lines. And that’s enough of an edge to justify the expense.
But suppose you didn’t belong to that elite. Suppose you paid $ 2,000 an hour for the privilege of flying commercial. Would that be worth it?
The reason people are so obsessed with private planes is that they make them. The plane is the most expensive part of the deal, but it is totally unnecessary.
When you buy a private plane, you purchase three things:
– a large, expensive piece of capital equipment
– the right to use that capital equipment whenever you want
– the assurance that the people around you are competent and won’t do anything stupid with it
The capital equipment is a large, expensive piece of capital equipment.
The permission to use that capital equipment whenever you want is freedom from restrictions on when and where you can use it.
The assurance the people around you are competent and won’t do anything stupid with it is that if you die in a plane crash, the people around you won’t blame themselves.
In business, you buy these things in the form of intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.
When you buy a private plane, you pay extra for the freedom from restrictions.
Plane maintenance and inspections will cost you.
The plane you fly on is a complicated machine. When something is wrong with it, you want to know about it, and you want it fixed. But the plane is much bigger than you, and so it is very hard for you to know what’s going on inside.
The plane’s mechanics can use special tools to see what’s inside. These tools are expensive, and they don’t last forever. When the tools wear out, or the airline stops using them, the plane becomes much harder to inspect.
A plane that cannot fly safely is a bad plane. So airlines try to detect problems early. Aviation engineers have developed something called the “yellow book,” which is a list of all the checks they think the plane should be getting. Airlines are supposed to run all these checks, and if they don’t, they get in trouble.
But the yellow book is very hard to read. The checks are not mutually exclusive, so an airline can run one and not the others. Some of them require special tools, and the airline might not be able to get them. Some checks are really about corrosion, and the corrosion problem might only be in the interior of the plane, not on the outside. The corrosion problem might not even be visible.
Although airlines are supposed to check the plane, they don’t always do it. And if they do, they can make mistakes.
One mistake is to do too many checks. Instead of running all the checks, the airline runs some of them
and ignores the rest. This is like continuing to drive your car when it needs new brakes and ignoring all the other things it needs. You don’t notice a problem until the car is in a crash.
Tips on buying an airplane.
So much for buying a car. At some point, every would-be pilot has to decide whether to buy an airplane or learn to fly.
Airplanes are very, very expensive. But there are some things you can do that will make it easier to afford one.
First, find a plane that will last a long time. Flying is a lot of fun, but airplanes are expensive, and you wouldn’t want to buy one you wouldn’t want to fly.
Second, buy used. Buying new is scarier, but used planes can be good deals. They’re less expensive, and if you buy a good enough plane, you may be able to sell it for more than you paid for it.
Third, look for a bargain. The plane you want may go on sale, but chances are good that someone else will snatch it up first. A bargain is just a plane that someone else wants more than you do.
Fourth, pay cash. When you pay cash, there are no monthly payments. You’ll get a cool plane and a cool feeling, and you won’t have to pay for it for a while.
Fifth, find a friend to co-sign. A co-signer is someone who promises to pay you if you pay the plane off early. A co-signer can be a perfectly nice person (you) or someone who’s a jerk.
Sixth, buy whatever plane you can afford. A plane is a lifetime investment. You won’t regret it if you buy the best you can afford, but you won’t regret it if you buy the best you can afford.
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