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Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by cocolos, Apr 12, 2014.
What's are the cheapest airplanes to keep!? from acquirement to maintenance.
Can the word "cheap" even be part of a sentence that also has the word "airplane"?
This should be an interesting thread though, so thanks for starting it.
Cheap is a relative term.
A cessna 150, J3 Cub, Piper PA28, tons of ultralights, gliders, experimentals, Cessna 172. I don't find my Bonanza particularly expensive to own vs say a G650.
Assuming you don't mean ultralights, something with only one or two seats, a small engine, no gyros and no electrical system would fit the bill for "cheapest". Low operational cost, too, and if it meets Light Sport limitations, it would be cheaper for the pilot to qualify to operate it.
That being said, you can spend twice as much to buy a fine Cub than a tired Cherokee...but in the long run, the Cub will be a lot cheaper to hang onto, especially if anything breaks.
T-craft. The most expensive part will be the hangar. Or a Kitfox and you can fold the wings to keep the hangar rent down.
I couldn't imagine either would be more than 12k-20k to acquire and cost more than 4k/year for hangar, insurance, fuel and maintenance. (Assuming you don't hangar it in SF or NY city)
Nice. Yea I was looking at some taildragger to fly around the pattern.
Champ, Chief, Cub....
What if he wants to fly it, instead of just keeping it?
Simple 2-4 passenger 4 cylinder, fixed pitch prop, buy a good one, not a cheap one and take good care of it. It will less expensive, but very few will be cheap.
Weren't you in the process of building a Lancair 360 or some other experimental a year ago? Wouldn't that be by definition the cheapest to keep?
Taylorcrafts and Chiefs are probably your more undervalued aircraft in the market and while they are capable of breaking your bank, are less likely to do so than others if they are in decent condition when you buy them.
need something to fly in the meanwhile!
You're looking for something with:
Fixed gear. Less to go wrong here, and annuals will cost ~ $1,000 less because you don't need to swing the gear. Figure another $1,000 per year savings on insurance as well.
A fixed pitch prop. This is a $10,000 rebuild you won't need to worry about.
Something reasonably fuel efficient.
Something that can burn auto fuel, if ethanol-free is available where you live. (Here is a list of approved airframes, though some only need a piece of paper to be legal, while others require modifications.)
A plane with reasonable production numbers, so you can get replacement parts when needed.
So a Cessna 150 or 172 would certainly be in the ballpark, and they're fairly common and easy to find.
If your mechanic is charging $1000 to swing the gear at annual, you need to find a new one. He's charging about $500 per hour. On similar, sub $50k airframes you'd have to be really low time for an insurance price delta of $1000 per year.
I tripled my hull value going from a Cherokee to a Bonanza, I about 200 hours total time with zero retract time and zero hp time and my insurance went up $800 per year.
Buying something that's been well cared for.
I've lost money on every "fixer upper" I've ever bought (including houses and cars).
I also think that there's a large variance between individual aircraft and cars of the same model and age. If you find something that's been flown often and repaired infrequently but maintained well, odds are it will continue working that way.
The 12k end of that range seems a bit optimistic.
A Kitfox tends to cost more than similar aircraft (eg. Avid Flyer, Ultra Pup) just because it is more popular - just like Cubs cost so much more than Champs.
A single seat homebuilt can easily be found for less than $20K. How much it costs to keep it would depend a lot on what kind of shape it is in when you get it.
all-in, the lowest cost per seat*mile of any piston powered plane is the tri-pacer. And they are a barrel of fun too.
A hail damaged (still flyable) Cessna 150 with time left on the engine. Pay cash for it, tie it down on the ramp and don't insure it.
Paraglider, no contest. Around here(Northeast) hangar costs are high enough so all the cheaper stuff, ultralights and wood homebuilts, would end up not cheap to keep. For conventional stuff as has been said, a mechanically sound, beater C-150 will likely be the cheapest.
Well, that's a different question now...
Less than $700 per year for a C-150 for less than 100 hours total time, $130 a month for hangar rental, and holding off my annual for a few months, but I'm budgeting $600 for the inspection itself and hoping there are no expensive fixes needed.
Std type cert: Taylorcraft BC-12D or BC-65.
Exp/LSA: Kolb/Kitfox/Avid with folding wings(keep in garage).
U/L: Backyard Flyer (folding wings).
Aircraft set-up for Rotax engines -- which are approved for E-10 operation -- doesn't need to be alcohol free (but ensure your tanks are small so you don't let them sit and acquire significant condensation)