advice on purchasing first airplane

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by blakeyoung, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. blakeyoung

    blakeyoung Filing Flight Plan

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    The long story short of this post is that I am considering what may be the best airplane to eventually own given my intentions and financial situation.

    I am a student pilot with approximately 7 hours a flight time. I am training in the Cessna C162, and I am proceeding through training relatively well. My first solo flight is supposed to be within the next 2 or 3 hours of flight time. My long-term goals are to obtain my PPL with an instrument rating and within a couple of years purchase my own airplane. I have a girlfriend (future wife?) and we would like to do some traveling. We do not have any children and don't plan to. We live in Texas and our goal would be occasional weekend or weeklong interstate flights to different areas in the United States. Yellowstone, Florida, Colorado, etc. And also I'm sure just some pleasure flying around our local airport. Combined personnel and baggage weight would probably be in the vicinity of 400-500 lbs. I realize that this is not a cheaper substitute for travel, but it is something that I am loving and something that she wants to be able to do together.

    The C162 is certainly not going to cut it for such adventures, so I know that something larger would be necessary. The flight school also has C172s and a Piper Archer III. I have flown the Piper Archer III once and really loved it. However, I still want to do some flying in the C172s and see how that feels. My problem is that I have a tendency to go overboard in situations like this. I start researching 172s, then 182s, then twin-engines, and before you know it I'm convinced that the only suitable airplane for me is a Cessna Citation. I am trying to curb that tendency. But by the same token, I don't want to lock myself into thinking that I can ONLY start with something like a Piper Archer or C172 if there is something with a little more carrying space, range, power, room, etc that might be more suitable. For example, a Mooney, Bonanza, Cirrus, etc.

    Some of my specific issues and questions are as follows:

    1) My budget is probably going to be somewhere around $150,000. Unfortunately I'm assuming that this will likely eliminate any decent high-dollar plane, but perhaps a good deal out there could be found.

    2) I want a glass cockpit. Even if that means retrofitting an older Piper or Cessna with glass, so be it. Are there some older airplanes that I might otherwise consider that simply cannot be retrofit, and therefore I can scratch off my list?

    3) At what point is a higher-end airplane "too much" for a beginning pilot? I know with a PPL I could easily go out and buy a used C172 and not have too much trouble with insurance or having the seller a little weary of selling it to me. I also know that trying to buy a King Air would be ridiculous. So, where is the line? Would something like a Mooney M20M, Bonanza A36, or Cirrus SR-20 or 22 be too much? This may be a ridiculous question, but I am so new that I simply don't have a good grasp of what is realistic. I don't want to waste a lot of time looking at planes out of my league... or getting my hopes up.

    Anyway, that's a long post. I just want some direction well ahead of time before I am looking seriously at making a purchase. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Theboys

    Theboys Line Up and Wait

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    I know you are really excited starting your training and that is good. However I think at this point you should just continue with your lessons and keep looking at what is available. With your budget you can afford many different planes and most if they don't have it can be upgraded to glass or partial glass at least. But, buying and maintaining is a whole nother thing. As you've allready realized many planes on your dream list are going to be severely expensive or maybe not even insurable for a very low time pilot. Plus what you think you will love now might not even come close to what you need in a year. I started with a 172 which I bought at the beginning. Flew it for couple years and outgrew it. Actually my needs changed. I needed a machine more for cross country. Still love to jump in a 172 and putt around though. If you are having fun with what you are flying now and learning, just keep it up. I remember how hard it was to do things in a 172 when I was learning. Took forever to have decent landings and it seemed so fast. Used to enter pattern close to pattern alt at 80 or 90 and thought that was pretty fast. Now I've been known to come in much faster. As you get more experience you will have much better idea of what you like and want. That will make whatever decision you make much easier. Welcome to the forum and happy flying.
     
  3. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Simplest answer: whatever she decides you should get.
     
  4. ahkahn

    ahkahn Line Up and Wait

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    For $150k, you can get a heckuva Mooney... and that would fit your mission profile.

    Keep in mind that cute girlfriends become future wives, who become bank account gatekeepers, who then become mothers, who then plop out little money eaters that add weight to the plane. That's why I have a Lance. It is an SUV with wings. Keep in mind that mission profiles change, so while today a Mooney may be a good fit, tomorrow a Mooney may be too small.

    I hope this helps!
     
  5. Neal Howard

    Neal Howard Cleared for Takeoff

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    A little more than 150K might get you a decent RV10. Fast, roomy, glass panel and being experimental will get you freedom from the obtuse expensive requirements of upgrading a certificated plane WRT avionics, autopilots, etc.

    In the certificated world, you might also want to take a look at Bellanca Super Vikings... very good deals on the market lately for a highly underrated fast roomy 4 seater.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
  6. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    No kids, young guys still believing that one. Slow down just a second, get your license, then get an airplane, quick. Pre house, pre kids(cause maybe) fly everywhere you can. If you can afford something nice great but the important thing is to get flying around. That way it is either habit and just something you do throughout your life. Or you had fun and might get to do it again in three decades when the kids are grown and the .mortgage paid off. Yolo.
     
  7. txflyer

    txflyer En-Route

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    Fly it like you STOL it ♦
    Why a Cessna skywagon of coarse!

    Hauls a ton. Takes off and lands in a football field. Rough strip .. no problem. Speed is good. Maintenance ... what maintenance?

    Macho factor ... off the charts. :yes:
     
  8. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    For 150k you can get a VERY, VERY nice plane.

    Keep in mind planes are not like poorly maintained and poorly operated machines, such as cars, some of the older ones are actually better, just look at the new Cessna 206 vs a modded older U206.

    If I were you I'd get something sweet like a nice C185, if you really want to scoot maybe a lancair.


    Smart money is renting all sorts of stuff and learning a little about aviation, get a 100hrs or so, before you potentially blow 150k.
     
  9. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Beat me to it
     
  10. txflyer

    txflyer En-Route

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    Fly it like you STOL it ♦

    There are reasons certain aircraft stand the test of time.

    The skywagon does not do any one thing the best, but it does it all pretty good. ;)
     
  11. linuxjim

    linuxjim Pre-takeoff checklist

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    +1 on the Viking. A lot of plane for a whole lot less than 150k. I picked one up last year and my biggest complaint is no local mechanics know how to work on it. However, you have one of the top 3 shops right there in Plainview, TX.
     
  12. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    First of all, ignore anyone who has suggested a particular airplane to you. You haven't defined your mission, so all such recommendations are based on the poster's personal preferences and not on your needs. Next, you need to figure out what your fiance/future wife's view of your needs are. That will narrow things down a whole bunch as if she won't get in it, then it will cut down on its usefulness. I agree with the folks that suggest that you get your license first, and then I would further recommend you get a bit of stick time in a bunch of different airplanes to further help you narrow down what will work for you.

    If you can find experienced owner/pilot/mechanic locally who can mentor you in the process of purchasing your first plane, it will save you a ton of money and heartache. It is even worth hiring someone if you can't make the connection locally. Brokers and sellers unload their junk on eager new pilots. You don't want to be one of the suckers, though if you are, you will have lots of company.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  13. JHW

    JHW En-Route

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    As you can already see, people are going Ito recommend what they have whether or not that makes sense for you.

    You hardly need a big load hauler like a 185 for 2 people to go on trips, you just need something that you can carry reasonable luggage and maybe grow into a kid or 2 worth. As you look into it you'll find some models have stood the test of time and are always in demand when you eventuelly decide to sell. At the bottom end you cant go wrong with a C172 or an archer. For something faster the bonanza is the gold standard, comanches and mooneys are good too. When it comes to SWMBO travelling with you, speed is your friend.

    If you are going to dump a ton of money into a glass panel then better to do it on a higher end plane where it might be worth something at resale. If you want to drool over panels, check out this thread that keeps going and going:

    http://www.beechtalk.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2248&start=1695
     
  14. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    If he really wants glass he should go experimental, or better yet buy a plane that already has it.
     
  15. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Did I just see someone say a Viking was roomy? Maybe if you're Verne Troyer.
     
  16. JHW

    JHW En-Route

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    c'mon now Ed, let's be fair, every aircraft is a trade-off. A viking is cramped inside, but on the other hand it's slow and thirsty, but then again at least it's ugly.
     
  17. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Glad you realize that. It goes a long way towards avoiding an overambitious decision.

    Some points to consider include the fact that insurance companies have a lot of data to show there is great risk when a low-time non-instrument rated pilot is flying a personally-owned high performance complex single engine plane or a multiengine airplane. As a result, they tend to put either a staggering price tag on insurance coverage or very high training requirements on policies in such cases. For that reason, getting into a twin or something like a 36 Bonanza at this point would be a very expensive proposition.

    Based on a few decades of flying planes, owning planes, and training pilots, I think your best bet is to stick with a simpler, lower-performance airplane until you complete your PP training, or at least are sure enough that you will. Once you have achieve that, you can revisit this issue. Also, at that point, you'll have a better feel for the various choices out there and be able to make a good choice for your situation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  18. mcs1626

    mcs1626 Filing Flight Plan

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    I think that once you get your license you should just keep renting, maybe go to another airport that's close to where you live (if you have one) and find a flight school with a different type of plane than yours has. Try out as many planes as you can and see which one you like best.

    Another good alternative to renting and in some cases is basically owning is by joining a flying club where the costs are relatively low and you more or less only have to pay when you use the plane.

    As far as the class cockpit goes, I'm guessing it's the c-162 that has it, yes it's nice to have but think about it, what MORE are you getting out of it? All it has is a GPS and all your instrument gauges on one screen. You could have a steam gauge panel with a GPS and still be getting the same out of it but for less money. I know that G1000 is fancy and nice but it's also expensive. I think this is a point where you might need to compromise, maybe put the money you save toward that first annual (you're gonna need it, even if nothing is wrong with the plane). At the end of the day I feel that the G1000 or even a GPS isn't necessary but it's nice to have. I learned how to fly in the LA Basin area which has a class B, 3 class Cs and a whole bunch of class Ds just on the TAC chart. On the sectional you can add 2 more class Bs and few class Cs plus a whole bunch more class Ds. My point is that I was able to learn how to navigate all these airspaces in little more than 40 hours with nothing more than paper charts and steam gauges, so I would really recommend you to reconsider the G1000.
     
  19. stratobee

    stratobee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Less is more applies to everything else in life except aircraft. There, more is more. I would not advise to buy some kind of easy step up or intermediate aircraft. Some halfway house is a waste of time and financially a bad move. Go for the one you envision you'll need/want to have for the longest foreseeable future, or as they say, buy your last plane first.

    Is a Constant Speed, retractable fast plane too much? No, it's not. That stuff takes 3 hours to learn - ain't nothing to it. Retraction, the higher speed - you'll get used to that fast. Don't settle. Get the one you want. It's your money and your flying.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  20. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Agreed. Buy what you think you ultimately want, assuming it doesn't break the budget. Remember, acquisition cost is only the beginning. You may want to consider a partnership too. Having others involved with the plane is handy, and not just from a financial perspective.
     
  21. ahkahn

    ahkahn Line Up and Wait

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    :rofl:


    Remember, it's always easier to buy a plane than sell a plane!
     
  22. stratobee

    stratobee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Dans,

    Tell me about it. Selling planes these days is a terrible prospect financially and if you're a numbnut like me who's had 3 planes in 5 years, prepare take a financial beating. The best thing one can do is buy the plane one wants - even if it's a stretch at the time - upgrade it and never sell it. The minute you sell it, you take a hit. Unless you have a PC-12, that is (they actually increase). :D

    That's why I don't recommend the intermediate planes.
     
  23. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I don't own anything. I have been fortunate to fly many airplanes owned by other people. Everything from a new $850,000 Sr22T to an old cub. Forget the glass cockpit thing. You want performance, comfort and load carrying ability. Do not sacrifice these for a G1000.

    For 150k you could buy a 172 with a G1000 and all the goodies. It does 115 knots and carries maybe 850 useful.

    Or buy a bonanza, in great shape, 165 knot cruse, nice useful load. Garmin 430 or better, probably an aspen PFD, functioning autopilot that will fly coupled approaches. And you'll have money left over.
     
  24. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    shoot....for $150k one could beat up a perfectly great airplane.

    IMHO....Rent till you get a few hours (+30) under your belt....then buy if you must. The last thing you need is to both learn how to be an owner and a pilot. They both are different and can be a very costly experience if not done right.

    Your perceived needs will change several times over your first 30 hours of flying....:yes:
     
  25. Tarrow

    Tarrow Filing Flight Plan

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    Be sure to budget for hangar, insurance and maintenance. Talk with some friends who have airplanes to get an idea of what these will do to your on going cost of flying. The cost of the plane is only the start of it.
     
  26. SmashTime

    SmashTime Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I lol'd at the "no kids" part. That won't last long.
     
  27. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    You sound like me a few years ago. I ended up buying a Piper Archer II shortly after I soloed in a 172 and finished up my training in it.

    Training wise, I suggest you go hardcore. Get in as many hours a week as possible, don't let weeks or months go between flying, it will set you back.

    Airplanes are expensive to maintain, keep, fly, and train in. Consider budgeting $100k for purchase and set aside $50k for unexpected expenses.... you probably won't have anything THAT expensive but almost certainly a couple hundred here, a thousand or two there... it happens, especially in the first year of ownership.

    Now about my Archer II- it has been enough airplane to get me and my wife around just about anywhere we want to go. I've loaded it up with 2 dogs& their crates, baggage for several days, dog gear, and Christmas presents for the family before and I ran out of space before I ran out of useful load.

    That said, sometimes I pine for something a little faster. Sometimes I wish I had six seats/more useful load so I could plan a cool weekend with a group of friends. However, it has met the needs for all the missions I've flown so far.... would those other things happen? I don't know. Something faster with a retractable gear and/or six seats and a bigger load would have cost me a lot more to own and operate.

    If carrying more people was non-issue, I might have rather gone with a turbo arrow. Carrying more people? A Cherokee six or turbo saratoga/lance probably.

    You might find the Cirrus Sr20/22 to be in your price range and a good choice.

    Read up, absorb specs, absorb reviews, ask questions. Pilots love talking about their airplanes, you'll get lots of feedback.
     
  28. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Go experimental, plenty of 2 seaters to choose from that will travel 2 and luggage just fine for under $70k, many under $50, including a glass panel.
     
  29. pilottangocharlie

    pilottangocharlie Pre-Flight

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    Fly more first. When I started learning to fly I drooled over restored 150s because that's what I was flying. So glad now I never went that direction. Selling a plane you don't like can be a real chore too. Make it count.
     
  30. Blueangel

    Blueangel Line Up and Wait

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    Good advice here and I felt the way some time back when I was a student pilot. From advice by veteran pilot friends, I decided to rent and buy later. I'm glad that I did since all my bad landings were on rental aircraft and not my own. If you must buy, get a trainer like a Cessna 172 or Piper Archer and lease it back to a club. That way you get the tax benefits and help defray the ownership costs or find a partner to offset the super expensive ownership costs. A new engine or overhaul is very expensive so budget 30-50k just for that alone.
     
  31. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Get the license,then go out and rent a few different airplanes,to see what you like,to fit your particular mission.
     
  32. TheGolfPilot

    TheGolfPilot Line Up and Wait

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    Its's great that you can afford a 150k airplane. but how much can you afford to spend on it each year? A 150k 172 is going to cost a WHOLE lot less than an equally priced and equipped baron
     
  33. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    For more on the cost of owning a plane once you've bought it, shoot me an email (that's email -- not PM, not post, not phone call, not snail mail, not smoke signals, not ESP thought waves) and I'll send you a paper I wrote on that subject based on 38 years of ownership.
     
  34. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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  35. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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  36. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    Doesn't matter, you'll pay one way or the other.
     
  37. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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  38. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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  39. txflyer

    txflyer En-Route

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    Fly it like you STOL it ♦
    Thread is us recommending planes to each other again ....

    <crickets>

    OP hasn't cared or been back to play.
     
  40. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    His girlfriend is pregnant he has a wedding and big house in the burbs to pay for now.