Choosing my first plane

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by whiskeyone2, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello, I am new to the forum and seeking some wisdom. I am in the market for my first airplane and trying to narrow it down.

    I will be using this aircraft to build flight hours towards my commercial rating and beyond. Purchasing I think will be more fun and allow more freedom than the $27k my 141 school wants to beat up the local area. Primarily, I am looking to build these hours on long cross countries to visit family and friends. I will mostly fly around Texas, but my longer trips would be to Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and the furthest - 1,500 NM to Oregon and Washington state. The aircraft needs to be IFR capable with a (preferably Garmin) WAAS GPS and a coupled autopilot at minimum. I am looking for naturally aspirated as I plan to stay out of the oxygen altitudes since my dog will (hopefully) be frequently traveling with me as well, along with the girlfriend occasionally. My lifestyle is based around spending 3 months at home with all my time off and then working 3 months overseas. I hope to one day fly a turboprop for charter or similar to avoid being overseas so much. The plane will fly plenty while I'm home, but when I'm gone I am thinking of appropriate mx storage, or the potential of having a friend fly it occasionally. I am a former military pilot with about 2,000 hours in a turboprop that trues at 230 KTAS, but in General Aviation I am a freshly minted Instrument pilot with 118 hours.

    The planes I am considering are the Mooney M20J, Cirrus SR20, Piper Arrow II/III, Cessna 182, and Piper Dakota. I would like to keep the price under $100k, 120k max. Timeline is end of Feb '20.

    I like the low fuel burn of the M20, Cirrus, and Arrow compared to the costs of the 182 and Dakota; especially since I will most often not have any back seat passengers or tons of luggage. The Cirrus would save me insurance money against a retractable, but I am afraid the mx costs are higher and the parachute repack is a big expense. I understand Mooneys also suffer from wet wing fuel leaks, but seem to be much more capable and solidly built than a Piper (from what I've read). My GA time has been spent in a DA-20, Cessna 172's including G1000, Cherokee 140, and Warrior. Lastly, I am not a fan of the high wing Cessna look, though I haven't completely ruled out the 182 if it does indeed fit my mission the best.

    Open to any advice and suggestions other than listed, though I would ask to leave out experimentals.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Bonanza... ‘nuff said.
     
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  3. texasclouds

    texasclouds Cleared for Takeoff

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    cessna 195
     
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  4. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    And this is where you've sought wisdom? hahahhahahahaha
     
  5. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    Good call. Pricey, but I found a V35 that could work

    Might be a little too old for me, and I don't have a tailwheel cert.

    Well... I didn't want the bias of owner forums and this was the first that popped up on Google, haha
     
  6. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    @whiskeyone2 will soon learn that PoA is just as biased.

    "If you can't buy a Bo, buy what I have." In my case an RV6, but an RV10 is better for your mission while you wait to buy a Bo.
     
  7. JCranford

    JCranford Pattern Altitude

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    That OR / WA trip would be a hike in the slower planes on your list, but I figure with 3 months off you wouldn’t be in a hurry to get anywhere. My trip to southern OR took 9+ hrs in my 210. The 182 is the most versatile on your list. Does everything pretty well. Big load capability, land it pretty much anywhere, ok speed, anybody can work on it.
     
  8. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    $100k forget the SR20, and a 182 with those capabilities will be tough to find without needing something. Those are the only two I feel qualified to advise on, cuz I made those choices about 2-3 years ago myself.
     
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  9. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    Right, the cheapest decent SR20 I found was $130k. I'd settle for steam gauges, a 430W, and a basic autopilot but the 182s seem to be priced higher than a comparable Mooney or Arrow.
     
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  10. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lots of great bonanzas in that price range.
     
  11. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    @pigpenracing That is a beautiful airplane and nicely equipped!
     
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  12. Todd82

    Todd82 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've been looking for the mythical $100k SR20 that didn't need a new engine and chute job. I kicked 3 unicorns and a big foot and still haven't found a $100k turn-key SR20.
     
  13. Jmcmanna

    Jmcmanna Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My Arrow is relatively slow compared to a lot of the alternatives, but it is cheap to maintain, cheap to fly, and a great cross country airplane.
     
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  14. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    C-210.
     
  15. NordicDave

    NordicDave Cleared for Takeoff

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    If want snarky, you came to the right place.

    A 172, piper 4 cylinder, or maybe a 182 if you want to learn in your step up plane. Check with an insurance broker for insurance estimates, and it can be sobering for a new pilot for more advanced aircraft. Personally I did more than half my training in a rental 172, then finished in my own 182. It's great transition to the 182 with the extra dual time with a CFI. The insurance company like that too.

    Fuel burn isn't everything. Look hard at maintenance. The lowest parts are usually Cessna or Piper, and nearly anyone can fix them wherever you fly.
     
  16. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    A Grumman Tiger will be as fast or faster than the 182, Arrow and Dakota, burning about the same as the Arrow and much less than the 182 or Dakota. It will be just a tick slower than the Cirrus and the fastest thing you have listed there is the Mooney - though pricing on good panel M20Js has gone up. They handle better than any of those planes. They are simple to maintain and extremely well supported, despite not currently being built. Texas and California are the best places to own one, because of Fletchair and AuCountry. They are easy to work on and anyone can work on them - though I'd avoid having fuel tanks worked on by anyone who isn't Fletchair or AuCountry. The only reason I'd get a Dakota is if I was consistently in extremely high density altitude or NEEDED the UL. Tigers will generally get you between 900 and 1000 pounds of UL (mine was 915 before the new panel, will probably be around 940 after), which is full tanks and 3 real sized dudes with light gear. The rear seats fold down, making them absolutely cavernous when you have 2 people.

    Another option is a BE33 Bonanza or Debonair. They are quite a good deal on the market and have lots of good avionics certified for them that you can put in. Even with 225 HP, they are 150-155 knot airplanes on 13 GPH. The best deal are the 260 HP IO470N or 285 HP IO520 planes, because the fuel burn is only marginally different and they become 170 knot airplanes. Absolute cross country monsters.

    (I happen to own an AG5B and an E33, so the experience is there).
     
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  17. wheaties

    wheaties Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Try a Cessna 177. It's roomy as hell, many have avionics of varying newness, they fly faster than a 172 and more importantly, the insurance rates are good. If you have a risk tolerance, you could even go retract but the opex is higher and the gear takes 13s(!?) to fully load/return.

    Also, in your budget range, a Cherokee 235 which is really just a slightly older Dakota.
     
  18. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    Unfortunately, I was told these are basically uninsurable for me.

    Parts and mechanics are certainly a big factor, and I do like that aspect of the Pipers and Cessnas. Fixed gear and under 200hp will obviously be my lowest insurance rates. Though traveling long distances in say an Archer seems painfully slow.

    Thanks for Tiger suggestion. Could be a great fit, but seem hard to find. There are plenty 33 and 35 series Bonanzas, though I just realized that complex AND high performance will be very expensive to insure for me.

    I figure there are two schools of thought there - Buy your last plane first, deal with the higher insurance and watch it drop as I build hours. Or get a simpler airplane initially and move up later after I have the hours built up. Thoughts?
     
  19. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    Sounds like a Grumman Tiger/Cheetah is the plane for you. They are about the easiest and cheapest airplanes to own and maintain. Relatively fuel efficient. Roomy cargo area for the dog to stretch out in. Sliding canopy for those hot Texas days. No retract, no constant speed prop, no shimmy damper, tq links, oleo struts. Fewer pulleys and cables than most airplanes. Very few panels to remove for annual inspections. Parts prices are cheaper than Cessna and Beechcraft.
     
  20. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Flying + dog(s) = Grumman A64AE338-93B3-431C-8E53-6886719A07FB.jpeg
     
  21. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    How big are you and will you be carrying any rotund passengers?
     
  22. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Cessna 182RG. Yes the ugly high wing but good airplane for the price point. Cessna 210’s baby brother. You mil time should count quite a bit if in a T-6/PC12/King Air or whatever Turboprop you were flying. This is where a good broker comes in, he/she will go the the insurance carriers and plead your case. Be certain that the insurance companies are seeing your 2000 hours military time, not just the 100hr private pilot time. It;s worth asking around different brokers, as they are not all created equal. The only issue I see for mil to civil is figuring out how a piston engine works. Once you’re past that it should be all gravy from an insurance perspective.
     
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  23. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    straight from the Department of Redundancy Department o_O
     
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  24. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    I do kind of want the constant speed prop experience and efficiency. The mil plane was more like a PCL so I didn't mess with the prop much. Where would one find a Grumman besides TAP and controller?

    I am an actual FAA standard person of 165-170. Largest passenger might be my grandpa at just over 200. But more than 1 or 2 would be rare.

    Ok, nomex on... My mil job was in a "non-traditional" aircraft. That being said I deployed with the aircraft and flew in the terminal airspace of international airports alongside passenger airliners. I like to think the experience should count, but I was told an absolute "no" when inquiring about credit towards ratings.
     
  25. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    The default go to for airplanes is Barnstormers. Also there is a Grumman facebook group that has the occasional for sale ad.
     
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  26. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    "I am a former military pilot with about 2,000 hours in a turboprop that trues at 230 KTAS, but in General Aviation I am a freshly minted Instrument pilot with 118 hours."

    Maybe a question for @whiskeyone2 or others here on the board: So why would insurance for any of these planes including the C210 be an insurance issue when he's got 2000hrs of turbo prop time. Sort of doesn't make sense?
     
  27. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    I find it fairly shocking that a 210 would be unisurable for you.

    There are plenty of Tigers out there. The nice thing is that they tend to have better avionics than similar planes of similar vintage, and are faster. Just have to look.

    I don't see how a 33 Bonanza would be THAT expensive to insure. It depends on how much you want to insure it at.

    Grumman style ground AC is so nice. Then, once you get in the air, you are going fast enough that the vents work. I'm often climbing at 105 knots.

    Just make sure you take care of the plane.

    The 182 RG may be the best of Cessna's high wings.

    Well, you can put a CS prop on a Grumman, if you want. I know several folks who have them. That said, there's really no need for it.

    Grumman Gang, various Grumman FB groups, Barnstormers, Controller, TAP, etc. You'll usually find something.
     
  28. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    None of my mil time counts to the FAA (see the explanation above). I mostly posted it to show I'm not entirely new to aviation and I feel I could handle a fast airplane with some transition training.

    @N1120A The insurance company told me the 210 has had a rash of gear failures and they wouldn't even consider me until I had over 500 hours.

    Thanks for the Grumman suggestions. I will get some quotes for the 33 to see how expensive it might or might not be.
     
  29. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    You could buy or fix up a really well-equipped glass panel Tiger or Cheetah for $100k.
     
  30. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    The 210 gear failures have zero to do with the pilot hours. That said, Bonanza gear rarely fail and are easy to crank when they do. Mooney's are even better.

    Well, probably not a Tiger now - unless you're making a few glass compromises, are looking at a run out engine or find a unicorn with a dumb owner. Cheetahs could do that, but then you're 15 knots slower and have that sad climb rate.
     
  31. NordicDave

    NordicDave Cleared for Takeoff

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    Also consider a post 1968 Cessna Cardinal if you're looking for a CS prop and better speed below 200HP.

    The 182 flies very similar to a 172 but 30 kts faster. You can rock back the engine to fly 55-60% power if GPH is a concern. Good to think of fuel consumption as fuel over time & distance. Yes a given GPH can be higher, but with less time in the air to distance.

    On foreflight set-up a few plane profiles and plot a typical flight you anticipate and compare overall fuel consumption over the same distance over time.
     
  32. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist

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    [​IMG]

    560 Knots full tilt boogie, 460 knots cruise, 2000+ NM range, 4 seats. There you go.
     
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  33. genna

    genna Cleared for Takeoff

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    I don't know anything about Grumman planes, so this is just a snarky comment. :) Seems like they named their planes incorrectly. A tiger faster than a cheetah? Didn't anyone study cats there?
     
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  34. mwagg737

    mwagg737 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I will put a plug in for the Mooney.
    It was my first airplane and I owned it for four years. I had an f model, 200 horse. 150 knots on 9 gallons an hour. Nearly 1100 pound useful load and a blast to fly.
    Not everyone likes the seating position. It's a lot like a Corvette.
    Personally, I think the Mooney makes a great first airplane. It's fast enough to get somewhere, reasonably cheap and easy to maintain as the systems are very simple, and insurance shouldn't kill you.
    The only reason I sold it is because our family grew out of it. We ended up buying a 310. I'm still not sure that was the right move.
    One more thing, anyone tells you Cessna parts are cheap, is lying straight to your face.
    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
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  35. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the Cardinal advice, that definitely helps. I have done the Foreflight scenarios before, but I'll run through them again with these new suggestions. Mainly when I said I was worried about fuel burn, that is comparing a 182 or Dakota to an Arrow or SR20 because they are all about the same book speed, but the 182 and Dakota were showing about 4 gph more (based on what I read). Assuming a 100 hour year and $5 a gallon, that extra 4 gph could be 2 AMUs more per year! Obviously, these are general figures and I know one could fly LOP or at a slower speed to compensate.

    Those are great numbers and exactly why I am considering a Mooney. I have not sat in one yet, but I am a smaller guy so I'm not worried about shoulder space. I'm used to driving a truck, so my girlfriend's mustang is a pain to get in and out of, but I think I could get over it in a Mooney if it was comfortable once seated. Maybe "plentiful" Cessna parts? Ha. I'm sure in a twin they are not cheap.
     
  36. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So the insurance company isn't the FAA, and doesn't underwrite based solely on FAA regulations. You have your private and instrument, so those boxes are checked. Do you have your complex/high performance(silly coming from the military, I know) endorsement? Because if you do, every FAA requirement is accomplished and all of that military time should count for underwriters.

    I'm in the aviation insurance industry, so I want to emphasize that you may need another broker. When you say the "insurance company told you...." do you mean your broker? Or a specific insurance company? Because that explanation of gear failures has no bearing on YOUR insurability. Your broker, if you have a good one, can easily set them straight on that. Or he or she can go out to the other insurance companies out there. From what you are explaining, there seems to be some kind of miscommunication here.
     
  37. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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  38. whiskeyone2

    whiskeyone2 Filing Flight Plan

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    I don't have complex or high performance yet. I was planning on getting that during the transition training / 10 hours dual required by insurance. The insurance company I originally spoke to was Avemco and they passed the information about the 210. I understood it as risk of the 210 gear plus the risk of a low time pilot was too much for them. I called them first because I have my renter's insurance through them, so they already have my data. I just got off the phone with Assured Partners who gave me a bit more reasonable numbers, but we didn't discuss my military time because my connection is terrible.
     
  39. kep5niner

    kep5niner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Osprey driver?... The only thing worse could be UAS...

    Regardless, I got reasonably insured on my 310 with zero FW time. Something’s not adding up for your insurance challenges. Good luck.
     
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  40. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    Well, a Tiger is stronger and more powerful than a Cheetah, and that is true of the Grumman variety as well.