Buying a plane that isn't local.

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by M1tchell, Jan 26, 2022.

  1. M1tchell

    M1tchell Pre-Flight

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    How do people set something like this up?

    I'm at the point where I'm ready to make something happen if I found the right one. Obviously you have more to choose from if you look outside your area.

    So let's say you find one you're seriously interested in, but it's a long way away. How do you find someone to do a pre-purchase inspection, and stuff like that? Sure, the owner probably knows someone who would do it, but it seems like you'd rather have an unbiased 3rd party check it out, right?

    Do you just call around to some airports near where the plane is located and ask if they have someone who would do a pre-buy for you?
     
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  2. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

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    You're wise to not allow the owner to choose your inspector. I'd likely begin by asking for some very detailed photos and a copy of the logs to review. I'd also like to speak to whomever (A&P, I/A) is responsible for maintaining the aircraft.

    A call to some of the nearby FBO's might find you an inspector. But a great resource is right here on POA. A few folks here do that sort of thing or know others that do.
     
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  3. CT583

    CT583 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I bought a plane sight unseen half way across the country.
    The inspection was detailed and unbiased. While it cost quite a bit, it was worth it for peace of mind.
     
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  4. simtech

    simtech En-Route

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    Ask for scanned copies of the logs. If you like logs, draw up contract contingent on inspection and put a deposit down. Best is you and your mechanic fly out and do the inspection. If all good pay the seller and fly it home. Otherwise yeah call a few different fbo's and ask around. I've had individuals on POA offer to look at a plane for me a few states away. I bet someone on here is close enough to go lay eyes on it for you. But in this market unfortunately you have to act fast.
     
  5. M1tchell

    M1tchell Pre-Flight

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    But how did you set up the inspection? Did a mechanic you know fly out there to inspect it, or did you reach out to someone near the plane? And if so, how did you find them?
     
  6. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    For whatever it's worth, I've traveled numerous times to look at aircraft and perform a PPI. In some cases, I went 2/3 of the way across the country on the purchaser's dime to do it. I've also hired people to travel and perform a PPI for myself or my business partner when it was outside my area of expertise. I already knew every client I have performed an inspection for prior to performing the work, and I already knew the mechanics I hired, and their capabilities when someone else did it for us. It is likely more expensive to operate this way but an expensive PPI by a type expert can be well worth the extra money if a nasty surprise is found.

    The responses you get will likely vary a lot depending on the type of aircraft they were purchasing and how much risk for unknown surprises they were willing to shoulder. For many types I'd recommend consulting the type clubs or type experts early on in the purchase process to help you identify which aircraft might be a good candidate before you get to the point of needing a PPI.
     
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  7. CT583

    CT583 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I reached out to a somewhat local(to the plane) mechanic shop who was also a Cessna center. The plane was ferried over there for the entire inspection process. They inspected and sent logs, had the logs reviewed by my local people. Turns out they had done business in the past and had a good working relationship. Aviation is a small world.
    After the inspection I paid them to clear the minor sqwaks and flew out to bring it home.
     
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  8. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Live in CA and bought my plane in FL.

    Agreed on the price over the phone assuming condition was as stated and as represented in pics as well as pending pre-buy. Even gave a small deposit that I could walk away and be fully refund for any reason at any time (it was a broker so was a bit more OK with the deposit sight unseen)

    Found a mechanic close to the plane from referrals by posting right here on POA.

    Hopped on a Southwest flight, did a visual, broker flew it to the mechanic at the nearby field for a "pre buy" with instructions to mechanic to stop at any time if there were red flags. Passed so I flew SW back home while mechanic proceeded to a full annual even though it did not need it. Glad I did as he found about $2.5K in issues...$2k was agreed to by seller by reducing purchase price and I opted for the other $500 minor issues which was not a big deal.

    Once seller agreed to price adjustment and mechanic was confident of no further sqwaks wired the rest of the money.

    Flew Southwest back to FL, paid the mechanic and flew plane home.

    Yeah, it was three commercial flights but a few hundred $$ well spent for peace of mind dropping that much cash on a plane.
     
  9. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Every scenario is different. You have to make some decisions, operate with prudence, but at the end of the day, it depends on the integrity of the people you deal with on the other end. I've had several deals work out very, very well, like my Cessna 172, a Cessna 120, and the Luscombe, and I've also seen some things not work so well, including a high-ish dollar pre-buy done for a work airplane that missed several fairly annoying things that turned up the first month.
     
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  10. Racerx

    Racerx Pattern Altitude

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    Did our own prebuy. Owner was a super honest guy. Sent a check for 100 bucks when he thought I miscounted (paid cash). His I/A happened to show up and deferred any questions he couldn't answer to him. All logs were there to look through. He let us pull any panels we wanted, was mainly concerned about corrosion. Obviously took a gamble engine wise. But for the price paid a 3rd party in depth pre buy wasn't going to be in the cards.
     
  11. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Pattern Altitude

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    They might be frowned upon here (I'm not really sure), but I used Savvy Pre-buy. I'm in Arizona and the plane was in the Boston area. They set up the pre-buy, found a shop in the area that had never seen the plane before. Went over the results with me, and guided me along on my first aircraft purchase. YMMV, but for me it was worth the money.
     
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  12. M1tchell

    M1tchell Pre-Flight

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    Thanks for all the input.

    To put it into perspective, I'm not looking to buy something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. If I bought something right now it would be a ~$30k Cessna 150. What I'd really like is a vans RV-6a, but that would take a little more saving. Which is fine, but if I found a decent 150 for a good price I'd probably jump on it and have something to fly right now while I keep saving. I would be paying cash... I have about $52k to play with right now, and I would like to keep some in reserve for the unforseen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2022
  13. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I would recommend joining a type club. I bet there's a cessna 150 group or two on FB, and there's multiple cessna owner groups.

    A cessna 150 is a pretty simple airplane, so you really just need a trustworthy shop, which even poa could give a recommendation for almost any part of the country. I'm also sure someone here (or in a type group) would be willing to go put eyes on a candidate before you spend money on travel.

    You have the right idea of having significant cash reserves. A prebuy is important, but it will still miss a lot of stuff. A full annual might be better if you can convince the seller. Mechanics tend to be more thorough when they have to put their name in the logbook.
     
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  14. Paul V

    Paul V Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Honestly the best approach is to fly your mechanic who will be doing your annuals in the future out to do the prebuy. Using someone else (especially someone unknown) becomes a pay now or pay later situation come your first annual after purchase.

    Review the logs with your mechanic first before traveling out for the prebuy. For something basic like a C150 you can fly out together, do the prebuy, and if it all checks out you close there, mechanic flys home commercial and you fly your aircraft home. If there are issues discovered the seller will fix before closing you’ll leave and come back to pick it up when it’s ready.

    Buying from outside of your area opens up more options but it also increases the potential costs to do a deal. You have to be prepared to spend the money to fly out with your mechanic and walk away if there are any major red flags.
     
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  15. k9medic

    k9medic Line Up and Wait

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    I "looked" at a plane that was in California while I am in Florida. Had a contract on it based on the photos and the logbooks. Plane needed an annual so the owner took it to a second shop not too far from them. Happened to have a buddy going to that area of California and asked him to stop by. He facetimed me and unfortunately the plane was an absolute basket case. I talked with the A&PIA that was doing the annual and the guy said it was in horrible condition.

    Long story short, I walked from the contract and the broker had to take the plane off the market it was so bad.

    Contracts are typically written to favor the buyer regardless so if you can get an unbiased person to look at the plane, it's money well spent.
     
  16. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    I flew myself and a trusted friend who knew the model well (Experimental, and he’d built one as his 4th build). We went over everything, found the squawks, and I used that to make the purchase decision and make an offer. It cost me two airline tickets and a hotel room, and was well with it.
     
  17. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member

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    Note that you can do everything right and get a prebuy done by a type club guy and still have issues slip by.
     
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  18. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Which is why I said:
    My prebuy was nearly worthless. The only bright spot is they confirmed my suspicion of leaking tanks, which I used to negotiate a few thousand off the purchase price. If I hadn't told them specifically to look for that though...

    They also caught that the magneto hadn't been inspected for 600 hours (in spite of a 500 hour AD), which speaks to the quality of annuals the plane had been receiving. I did a lot of catch up on my first annual, none of which was mentioned in the prebuy.
     
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  19. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member

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    Yup. My point was that the simplicity of the type doesn't matter, stuff will still get overlooked, and a first time buyer doesn't know what they don't know.
     
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  20. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Line Up and Wait

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    I paid an IA not affiliated with the plane to do an annual/ prebuy on my 180. $2000 flat rate, I got a $2000 signature in the log book. When I got to the plane to see it first hand and buy it, the IA hadn't checked compression, hadn't inflated the low tire, did not notice the worn out tailwheel head, did not notice the blue stains on the left wing and some other smaller things.
    It was a good thing that it was overall a good plane for a good price, but in the first year after purchase I had to replace a fuel bladder, tailwheel, the exhaust, and one cylinder. And that was with a mechanic that only saw obvious stuff, the next year I had to have the horizontal repaired, after a different mechanic asked me about any noises, or other peculiarities.

    A good IA could have saved me a few thousand dollars.
     
  21. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Line Up and Wait

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    Buying a plane across the country is a pain and usually results in some wasted time, money, and airline flights. But I’ve done it a couple times and it’s just the fact that the planes are where you find them.

    Here’s my basic process, would be interested to what improvements you all can come up with:

    1. Get educated about what you’re buying. Zero in on a make and model and “era” (year) so that you can figure out all the gotchas related to that airframe. Join its type club or Facebook group and simply ask what the common problems are, desirable mods, or anything else that should be identified potential dealbreakers.

    2. Armed with the knowledge of what to ask about, interview sellers and try to address as many problem areas as you can. Ask if the firewall has been wrinkled or inspected or ever repaired and what the condition and age of the fuel bladders is (common 182 problem areas, as an example), and weed out planes that are unsatisfactory on those items before bothering to go any further. The farther away the plane is, the less compromising you should be (and it should be mentioned that there will be any number of items that are dealbreakers even if the plane is at your home base).

    3. Negotiate the deal and sign a written contract with the seller. That written contract should have a price, give the buyer rights to pre-buy inspection, a buyer’s inspection and test flight, and give the buyer the right to cancel the contract “for any reason at buyer’s sole discretion” based on the outcome of those inspections. I like to add as much detail about the aircraft as I can, I.e. that it is airworthy and in such-and-such condition (as represented by the seller) so that when airworthiness issues or condition-related issues are found during inspection, it makes it pretty clear that the plane is not as represented and the seller needs will need to pay to bring the plane up to its represented, airworthy, condition.

    4. The contract will include a deposit, so when the deal is inked, pay that deposit into escrow (yes, absolutely use a title and escrow company, even if you’re not financing).

    5. Now go back to your type club or owner’s Facebook group and ask for mechanics in that area that know the type. Arrange to have the mechanic either travel to the plane or have the plane taken to that mechanic. Make sure to direct the mechanic to specific areas you are concerned about!

    6. If there are condition or airworthiness issues on the plane, break the deal or negotiate the price. Once the plane passes the inspection, NOW you fly out and see it.

    7. Test flights, buyer’s inspections, etc - one last opportunity to break the deal from the buyer’s perspective and if everything looks good, finalize the deal and you’re done!

    One thing I have thought about after buying a few planes is that in the future I think I’d opt to roll the pre-purchase inspection into an annual and just get it over with. Nothing like the anxiety of your first annual... but this poses a problem when the plane is a long ways away because when the plane is taken apart for prebuy (the natural time to roll into an annual), you haven’t seen or (more importantly) test flown it yet.

    Some people balk at the idea of doing all this work before ever seeing the airplane. But my position on that front is why would you bother flying all over the country for planes where you don’t know if you and the seller can agree on price, where you don’t know if the plane is airworthy, where you don’t have any agreement in place that precludes the seller from just selling the plane out from under you, etc. The prebuy cost is the only real cost here, which is generally going to be about equivalent to the price of an airline ticket and a hotel, so I figure you might as well pay that money up front and save yourself the time and hassle if everything is not in order.
     
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  22. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Truer words never spoken. Rule #1 of buying your first airplane, and why I'd still recommend a prebuy even though they're of marginal value. At least they'd keep you from buying something dangerous. Maybe.
     
  23. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Bro do you even lift
    +100 on having a PoAer in that area look at the plane for you if possible. if nothing else, it can help you rule out a junker before you spend money on plane tickets, etc... people have done it for me, I've done it for several peeps, good excuse to go fly and u help a brotha out.
     
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  24. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    I live in Texas and have had planes from St. Louis, Florida, Connecticut, Kentucky.

    Find a plane you think you like.
    Come back HERE and post: Anyone in the greater north city metropolitan area that can look at this old airplane for me?

    Someone from this forum will say "Dude that airport is like a block from my house, we eat lunch there".
    They will go glance at it and take some photos and say "Run away" or "If this was the model I was interested in, I would look further"

    Then you PM that person and say who do you use for MX?

    Call that guy and say I was referred to you from a stranger on a forum. Have you ever worked on XYZ model before?
    He will say "Yes I am very familiar with that model of plane " or he will say "No, but I know someone that is very familiar. let me get you his number"

    So my point is you are here now in probably one of the largest aviation networks on the internet.
    People here will help you get that initial glance and start routing you to figuring out of the plane worth perusing.

    My most recent plane, I flew to see it and liked it. I met the owner's mechanic. We all three sat and talked about it and we had the conversation that" This is my mechanic and best friend so it is probably better that you get an outside mechanic to look at it." Through this forum, and a couple other resources, we found someone about an hour away from the seller that was familiar with the brand and he asked how deep a dive I wanted to go into the plane.

    I can fix squawks. I can't replace wings and engines, etc. Look at the things that would be deal breakers for putting your children in this plane.
    Borescope the cylinders, Check the structural stuff, Cut open the oil filter, check the plugs, Check the landing gear, look for any signs of corrosion.

    I don't need to know about every paint scratch, loose door latch, etc. I just want to know about safety items and overall condition.
    He started sending me photos of squawks and I sorted them into things I can afford to fix now, things that I can afford to wait and have fixed at annual and things that I don't understand.

    I took the things I don't understand to a couple local mechanics I have used here in the passed and we discussed them and requested photos and had conversations about what the safety concerns would be and the cost to fix it if it turned out to be a legit concern. Based on those conversations, I opted to buy the plane and I have a list of squawks, updates, etc which we have started addressing.

    Shoulder Harnessless going in now.
    Replacement Cowl latches are next.
    Landing Gear Lockdown Springs after that.


    For what it's worth, that was my exact process on my two personal planes I have owned.
     
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  25. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Another tidbit - a regularly maintained and FLOWN airplane seems to be a lot less likely to manifest a big surprise than one that’s been sitting a while. I’d definitely consider a plane that’s flown more than 25 hours in the last year to be less risky as long as it’s a reasonable time engine and has been under the watch of a decent A&P / IA.

    These days there’s almost no reason not to have a seller send you a digital scan or pictures of the last ten pages of the engine and airframe logs, which can give you useful information such as an A&P to call up and ask questions, how many hours flown the last few years, and what kind of maintenance was recently done.
     
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  26. Ventucky Red

    Ventucky Red Pattern Altitude

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    This^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Also, don't be fooled by "plane sold with fresh annual" I have heard more than one horror story on this.
     
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  27. ServoB17

    ServoB17 Pre-Flight

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    I also used Savvy to manage the prebuys (all three of them) while I was searching for my plane last year. They were another cost on top of all the other costs, but I figured this was my first airplane purchase, I didn't know what I didn't know, and I liked having someone who was so removed from the sale to get opinions from. I also found the Savvy A&P to be more willing to offer an opinion ("You should think about walking away from this plane if you're not looking for a project.") than the guys doing the prebuy who were more comfortable being told exactly what to check and factually reporting back the results. They were also a big help when I got stuck with a dead starter in Cincinnati flying the plane home from Texas.

    But even with their help you'll get better results if you do your homework as well and stay as involved as you can. I closed on my plane without seeing it with my own eyes and had very little concern doing so.
     
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  28. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    Do you have an APIA selected already who maintain your new purchase? If not, start there. Then you involve that APIA in the process either by flying him to the intended sale aircraft or by letting him be an integral part in who is picked to perform your prebuy. y It not 100% even with your APIA performing the prebuy but it does go a long way to reducing the number of surprises on your 1st annual as owner. I can't recommend this enough. Airworthiness is subjective to the person determining it, so the more people involved, the more chance of there being a difference of opinion. Good luck.
     
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  29. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I had a less good experience with Savvy. None of the local shops wanted to work with them, and the broker who had the plane didn't want to fly it more than an hour away. After a few days of them trying to find some place to take it, they told me to walk away from the plane. I had been watching for a suitable PA32 for a year, and this was the second one I'd seen and by far the nicest, so i wasn't going to let it go. I wound up getting a recommendation from the FB group for a local shop. As I mentioned above, it wasn't a very thorough inspection, but they at least gave me some confidence there wasn't a bunch of hidden corrosion or something. I posted some thoughts about it at the time here: https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...-wife-a-birthday-present.128693/#post-2989071

    As @Ventucky Red said...'recent annual' isn't worth much. My plane was annualled right before I bought it, and I spent more than 20k on my first annual. I have no regrets, but that's why I'm saying be ready for the possibility of writing some checks. I like the idea of flying YOUR IA to do the prebuy in their hangar if that's possible. That would've worked great in my situation, and I'll probably go that route if/when I buy another plane.

    The problem is that in this overheated market, if you try to get too picky, they'll tell you to forget it and move on to the next guy waving cash in their face. That's not to say don't do your due diligence, but there's only so much you can do. Like @SixPapaCharlie said, pre-buy's, especially in this market, are about major deal breaker stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2022
  30. aftCG

    aftCG Line Up and Wait

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    I ferry aircraft as a side hustle. Coast to coast in many cases, everything from a C172 to a T-6. I have NEVER picked up a plane that fit the stated condition. Most were airworthy but at least one was a flying bomb (I didn't know just how bad during my 850 mile flight) which needed a huge influx of cash to be airworthy.

    I've also gone through this exercise of considering planes a long way from home. My word of advice? If it's not a rare antique: Don't!

    A C-150? Please. There are a dozen within an hours drive of you. Maybe not all are for sale but I'll get back to that.

    I'll give you my personal acquisition story. I got to the point where I could buy a plane and decided on a Citabria. This was before the asking prices went parabolic but stay with me here. At the time there were a handful around the country for under $30k. Most of them seemed like I could live with them. The first thing I did was ask my friend who owned one which I had flown. It was not for sale.

    Some simple math and a bit of psychology that you need to consider. If you don't have non-rev privileges you will pay what, $200-500 just to put eyes on the plane. Each way. Bringing your mechanic? Double that. Plus hotel (never met a mechanic I wanted to share a room with) and rental car.

    The psychology part is that you may have been so sure this was "the one" that you held off on buying return tickets. That will be like some dates you've probably been on where you didn't see the warts (or crazy), just because you really wanted it to all work out. That corrosion is minor, right? I didn't really smell that smoke after turning on the avionics master, did I? Nah.

    Say your mechanic talks you out of the plane. How many of these trips can you afford before it puts a big dent in your airplane fund? For a $30k plane the answer is "maybe 1". After searching for most of a year for one close enough I could at least drive to I was discouraged. I had another conversation with my friend to see if he at least knew of anyone else who might have one. Fortune was on my side this time and he agreed to sell me his plane, and for a good price. As they say, "shut up and take my money".

    In the 3+ years I owned the plane I had a few cold calls from hopeful buyers. When I put the plane up for sale on Barnstormer's almost a year ago it was sold in under a day. Anyone who contacted me and wanted to schedule a pre-buy were way too late. Contract between parties? Please. Cash, paperwork, a checkout flight for the buyer and he was on his way home.

    The most recent plane I went to ferry was an extremely rare airplane (two flyable examples in the country and the other has since eaten a prop). I arrived with a cashier's check in my pocket and my flight gear. The plane was in flawless condition, but the promised annual was not signed off. The engine had not been run in two years. The registration went from lost and presumed expired to "oh there it is", but there was no weight and balance and to even get a ferry permit (not part of the agreement) a mechanic would still have to inspect the aircraft with their own eyes. Reluctantly, I bought a ticket home.

    For a C-150 or even an RV-6, keep looking locally. Hit up the owners you find and check back every once in a while. Establish a relationship with a local IA and keep them in the loop. You'll hit pay dirt eventually and get a way better deal on a plane.
     
  31. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Cleared for Takeoff

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    Curious as to what Savvy charged for arranging the prebuy. Not the prebuy costs itself.
     
  32. masloki

    masloki Pattern Altitude

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    Savvy managed prebuy is $750. I think it is a one time fee regardless of the number of planes until you close on one. They will look at logbooks for free. I used them once and found the review somewhat helpful but not super in depth, but hey, free. And had an A&P friend confirm their logbook analysis on 2 planes.

    Savvy prebuy scope forms are online for a few top planes. For real, use them, or adapt based on your unique type. Why spend $1500 on a basket case? Their prebuy form has two phases, fast, deal breakers and the rest. But not all mechanics will stop there since they committed to a a pre-buy for $1500 so be up front about the two phases.

    Otherwise, yes, try to get some PoA’er to look at it. There isn’t a lot of middle ground in GA aircraft - pretty well maintained or trash, with quite a few maintained but lost medical hangar queens (your gamble there). If it ain’t trash, the above posts have you covered.
     
  33. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Display name:
    455 Bravo Uniform
    If you like it from a distance, lock it up by executing a contract and sending refundable earnest money to an escrow agent. THEN do all the leg-work (plane tix, A&P, etc) to see if it’s worthwhile completing the transaction. In this market today you’re likely to lose a fair deal.

    Don’t rush and don’t compromise, but be ready to make a deal first and do your due diligence next. That’s also how real-estate and business deals are done.

    I bought my plane from Utah and I live in Indiana. The shop I wanted to look at it was in Kansas (STC holder’s shop). Plane had some paperwork issues that prior buyer walked away from. I offered to get a ferry pilot to fly it to Kansas to the STC holder at my cost to get paperwork possibly fixed, but seller would have to fly it back if I walked for any reason, and he could get paper resolved by the STC holder and sell it more easily then. At first he was hesitant, but when he realized I’d pay for half the round trip if I walked, he figured I had skin in the game and his cost to resolve the issues was reduced. Shop found about $6k worth of other minor stuff and we adjusted the price, then I sh*t a brick because I became an airplane owner.

    I paid for round trip airfare and hotel to see it during the STC review and prebuy in Kansas. I paid for an annual after seeing it and talking with the A&P. I then paid for it to be hangared for a month before I and a CFI friend’s schedule worked out. 2 one-way tix and a hotel room. I ended up getting me and my CFI friend transition-training in the bird before we left Kansas (I also needed my HP endorsement).

    Great memories coming back, thanks for listening, lol.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2022
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  34. M1tchell

    M1tchell Pre-Flight

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    M1tchell
    Thanks again guys, I really appreciate all the input. I'm trying to get more active here locally, I went to a local EAA chapter meeting a while back, met some great people there, I just joined the EAA and I'll start going to the meetings regularly whenever my work schedule permits. I'll start asking around there and other places and find a mechanic. I don't have a Facebook, but maybe I need to get one just for stuff like this. I'm not really sure how to find planes for sale locally unless I get lucky on one of the usual classified sites, but I'm sure getting to know people will help a lot there.

    Thanks again.
     
  35. saddletramp

    saddletramp Line Up and Wait

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    Walla Walla. WA

    Display name:
    saddletramp
    When I bought my 182 six years ago airplanes weren't moving all that fast. The airplane was 250nm away & I had several phone conversations with the sellers & got a digital copy of the logbooks. I told them I was a cash buyer & they offered to fly the airplane to me & let me see it in person. When they arrived the airplane was perfect & I took it for a 30 minute test flight. I offered to buy their lunch & knew the annual was due in the next month. I gave then $1,000 & told them I would come help with the annual & if everything looked good I'd buy the airplane. A month later I drove there, helped with the day long annual, & told then I'd take the airplane. It's been a great airplane.
     
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  36. mandm

    mandm Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Michael
    A lot of people say bring your mechanic but which first time buyer has a mechanic?

    I found a plane, negotiated a price and deposit contingent upon a pre-buy. Type in the general location + prebuy mechanic on Google and you’ll find some reviews online. You’d want one that is at least an hour away from the seller and make sure the seller will fly the plane for the prebuy. They could know each other, who knows but hopefully a good referral online and not a 15-30 minutes flight away will increase your chances of an unbiased prebuy.

    Make sure you verify the seller is the owner before sending money too. Who knows what scams are out there.

    I would make sure you are comfortable flying the airplane back, this is a great experience and a great way to know your plane. When you pre-flight, check everything, lights, panel lights, flaps etc. For me, the panel lights were tripping a breaker as it got dark, thankfully I had a red flashlight with me and was able to continue my route. Then the radios were acting up. The gear was stuck in yellow in transit mode so I cycled it and seemed to be ok since. The neutral position for the airplane also seems to be turning the plane to the left, so I’m not able to fly it straight and level. I will meet with a mechanic around 50 hours and have them teach me about the oil change and look into my squawk list.

    A couple posts said they trusted the seller or the seller is honest, this has Nothing to do with a pre-buy. For me, the seller said the plane was perfect with excellent maintenance no costs spared. That may be true and I do not think the seller tried to deceive me, but the prebuy discovered a lot of issues that were probably unknown to the seller. It initially ended up with about 13k in repairs and I would say get those repairs done so they are the sellers responsibility, don’t take a discount and put the risk on yourself, you want a plane that is ready to fly and at least has a fresh annual so you’re legal to fly for a year. While having those repairs done, some more issues were discovered and it ended up costing the seller almost 40k and 5 months, had I took a discount that cost and downtime would have been my responsibility. I thought this meant I was buying a perfect plane, far from it. I already created my own squawk list and it’s growing, the fact is a plane is complicated like a house and it’s impossible to get it perfect, rather there is “code” for the basic airworthy items and the rest is subjective. Being in buyer mode you are basically “high” and oblivious to issues at first that you will later discover as you fly your plane more.

    3 weeks in and ~17 hours flight time, I love the plane but it is far from perfect.

    Knowing Pipers and from my experience, during a pre-buy I would want to check the spars, remove the fuel tanks and check the inner spars as well. You should know the plane you are buying and the costly issues associated with that model and get it checked. If I do this again, I would also get an avionics shop to do a prebuy check on the instruments, instrument lighting, approaches, glide slope, etc. I don’t think these things were checked during the prebuy. There’s really only so much a mechanic can do and if your airplane is too much of a mess I think towards the end some things are overlooked.

    The market is hot for airworthy airplanes, not for planes with a mess, missing logs, high airframe total time, accident records, or engines that were overhauled 20+ years ago aka airplanes that were sitting and not being flown. Don’t rush it, if you cannot do a prebuy then walk away, repairs could easily cost more than the price you paid for the airplane.

    That’s my 2 cents after 3 weeks of aircraft ownership. And I will admit I know very little, but these are my gut instincts thus far.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2022
  37. Paul V

    Paul V Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Paul V
    Being successful at aircraft ownership is all about relationships. Your mechanic will be your lifeline and along with your insurance agent and one or two trusted fellow pilots should be close. I’d focus on building these relationships first. I spent years building relationships with the above parties before taking the ownership plunge.

    With regards to a mechanic, a first time buyer will presumably be renting and may know handful of owner-pilots who can all provide a referral. I’d talk to a few mechanics and let them know you are looking to buy and would potentially be bringing your aircraft to them for maintenance. They may be able to help and may even know of someone who is looking to sell.
     
  38. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Tom
    You can call a broker in the area and have them represent you, make sure you pay them by the hour so they don’t care if you buy the plane.
    I did this, he specifically was a buyers agent, he did the test flight and gave me an informed opinion of the plane and the help negotiate the price.
     
  39. mandm

    mandm Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Michael
    I agree with this although I did get some referrals, the mechanics seemed busy, wanted the plane dropped off at their airport which was too far for most sellers. This I think is more for a local purchase, I don’t think mechanics want to fly out half way around the country without their tools, that was the gist I was getting so that was why I looked for prebuy referrals of mechanics close to the seller.
     
  40. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    Bell206
    FYI: Most buyers should whether your 1st time or not. And if they have their APIA up front, the stories you read of those $10,000-$20,000 first annuals wouldn't be so common because it's that APIA who will give you that bill and not some distant mechanic you had do a prebuy. Regardless, there's two types of aircraft buyers. One who buys at a level where a prebuy is a mere formality or not done and those who buy at a level where a prebuy can be the difference between those high dollar 1st annuals or not. Given airworthiness is 50% opinion, who would you rather have perform the prebuy... the person doing your 1st annual, or a person who isn't? It is what it is.
     
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