Family bird or 2-seater - pick your mission

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Brad W, Feb 14, 2020.

  1. Brad W

    Brad W Pre-takeoff checklist

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    wondering.... how many of you aircraft owners have gone the route of owning the sports car plane and renting the family wagon aircraft?
    or did you buy the family hauler and rent the solo flyer?
    how has it worked out for you?

    As I'm going through the process of knocking 13 years of rust off my PPL, I keep again and again circling back to the thought I had 13 years ago that was a primary driver in me taking a break...and that was the decision to BUY something.
    I had been renting and over paying for poorly maintained aircraft.
    I couldn't keep things stowed and organized how I like them,
    had no idea what sort of prang just happened on it's last flight,
    they weren't available when I wanted
    etc...
    so I said to myself, "Self, this does not make sense to struggle to keep current in several different types until I can figure out a plan to buy". So that evening I hatched a plan and settled my sites on finding a cessna 170. At that point I figured that would fill my mission and wants fairly well. Not long after, I got hit with a lay-off at work, then .... life ... and 16 years later....

    So now almost every daydream is trying to figure out my mission and what sort of "affordable" aircraft I might set my sights on...
    I have three kids+ DW, and 5 seat rental options are thin. The school I'm currently renting at does have an old cherokee 6 so that's an option at least for now.

    Classic question I suppose... 2 seats, 4 seats, 6 seats
    I even keep bouncing around the idea of a little 2 seat LSA gyro or something like that for frugal fun...

    and no, I can't afford a TBM!
     
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  2. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    Which will you need 80% of the time? Buy for that, rent for the other.
     
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  3. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    My two seater fits the bill of the family aircraft.
     
  4. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC En-Route

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    I bought a 2 seater and have access to a 4 seater the handful of times per year that I need it. That said, I'm not convinced that care and feeding of a 170 would be all that much more than my 140.
     
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  5. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Our 172 has had more than two people in it exactly once in the last three years -- and on that occasion the third person was our 7-year-old granddaughter. The 172 is a very capable 2-seater.
     
  6. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Cleared for Takeoff

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    My wife and I, and two dogs fly a Chevy Suburban with wings. At first glance, a Dakota would be great. But solidly 80% of the time I fly our PA32, I have it stuffed. We go from Home-A to Home-B a lot and things travel with us.

    The hotrod type plane would be fun but stay parked a lot more.

    All that said, it certainly makes the wife more agreeable on expenses on the airplane meets our mission instead of only my own.
     
  7. Brad W

    Brad W Pre-takeoff checklist

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    interesting points, all...
    I should've been more clear about one point though...by sports car I don't really have my sights set on anything to hot. It's really more of a tear between a super frugal something... a cessna 140, a champ, or ?? If I'm truthful with myself a 172 would probably be a great mix but just wouldn't me take the entire clan at once

    That's exactly what I keep thinking
    then I think that a rental in some ways fits the bill better for trips around the pattern or little semi-local flights. It's always been harder to get something booked for long trips...and it's on the longer trips when it would be especially nice to be very familiar and comfortable with the plane.

    now that is definitely something I'll keep in mind!
     
  8. Doctor Bob

    Doctor Bob Filing Flight Plan

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    I had moved up to a 182 because my two kids kept growing and we ran out of useful load in my 172. The times we could all actually vacation somewhere as a family we were still extremely restricted if we flew. For example, we HAD to leave this day and HAD to return on this day, no car when we got there, and still were limited in what we could carry (no bikes, beach gear, etc). Turns out we simply drove when we had to go somewhere.

    Flying the 182 solo or with a passenger was too expensive to enjoy. Controls were heavy and sluggish. The joy of flying was waning with the high costs of maintaining an old plane. Even not flying became expensive as sitting planes become a problem.

    I sold the 182 and bought a LSA, a Flight Design CTSW. The fun is back, the plane is super modern, it is light and tossable, cheap to operate, in fact so cheap that it is no longer a factor. It is also cross country capable with a range over 900 miles if throttled back. A usual trip takes maybe 20 minutes longer to get us to the beach, but I am completely relaxed as the GPS driven auto pilot does all the work. It sips gas, and I have that BRS chute for safety. I give lots of flights to friends and friends of friends.

    As your kids get older (I’m assuming their younger?) you will never have a free weekend as there will always be a sport or event being held. Then, they are off to college and it will be just you and your spouse. The two seater has worked well for me. If I were important, and had to do a lot of cross country flying, then I would have kept the 182, as it was a heck of a solid XC plane.

    My experience only. Go fly a few options and take a realistic self-assessment of your actual flying needs.

    Good luck,

    Bob
     
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  9. rtk11

    rtk11 Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I have a 2 seater LSA (Sportcruiser)... because my wife will never fly with me (her words) and because she won't fly, my son won't fly with me. So... I'm solo 98% of the time. No need for extra seats and fuel burn in my case, though a few extra knots airspeed would be nice.
     
  10. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    Renting an airplane part time is a total PITA. If you think you will use a 4 seater even once a month buy a 4 seater. Better yet join a flying club that has both. I have 2 seat airplanes because they fit my mission and I don’t have a family. That doesn’t stop the fact that I constantly wish I had a 4 seater. Problem is no matter how much experience you have they will want a check out and for you to fly it a certain amount every 30-60 days. If you don’t you have to get another checkout.
     
  11. aftCG

    aftCG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Man, I've typed of a few responses and then went back and actually read everything.

    If you have access to a 6 seat cherokee you should pray to your Maker every night that it remains available. And then go and buy a fun two seater. Seriously, when was the last time you went to the airport to fly some touch and goes in that short bus? If your entire clan goes with you to the airport and can't wait for the next adventure then I'll shut up.

    With a C140 you will have something to be stoked about. I can take my Citabria out after work and do as little as .4 in the pattern, and then put it away for cheap. I'm often more like .6-.8 with some 180 power offs, short approaches, etc.

    My favorite woman will go with me if I plan a trip of reasonable length to somewhere fun. Admittedly, she's a good sport who did do a 1200 mile cross country from MN to WA in the back of a WW II aircraft (In October). But it's not her passion. I've got three sons who could learn to fly for free but they haven't made the time. The rest of the people I know either don't care about airplanes or they already have one. Even in the T-6 my back seat is empty 70-80% of the time.

    About two or three times per year I wish my plane had at least a third seat. It doesn't, so we get in the car.

    Oh, and FFS if you have another child you WILL need a TBM.
    stills1.jpg
     
  12. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Which one do you want to be more proficient in? Which one do you want to feel better about maintenance and pilot care? Knowing I was putting my family in the bigger one, that’s the one I would buy.

    But it might be empty or not full 90% of the time. It’s worth the cost to me. I bought a 182. Have not rented since. Mostly flies with just me or 2.
     
  13. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I fly what i consider the best of both worlds... i own a 1947 cessna 140, super frugal model choice, easy on gas, fun to fly, etc, etc...

    i also hold an 1/12th equity share in a 172 club... shes got the 180hp so quite capable, nice plane..


    I have two airplanes at my disposal and have a whopping 24k invested in purchase price... so many fly ins I go to and out of 4-6 seaters pops tbe predictable 1-2 pancake eaters..

    These two fit my mission really 100% of the time...

    Gotta do your own figuring on that as some folks this would be a bad set up but honestly i bet it would fit more than it didn't fit...
     
  14. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    While this is the typical advice, I find it very impractical when trying to rent a larger plane. It’s very hard to rent 6 seaters. Few are available and the costs are high. That’s a lot of why I bought the Aztec all those years ago - no local twins available for rent.
     
  15. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    Fractional ownership of the 2nd plane might be an option if a rental isn’t available.
     
  16. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    I was looking for a J5 or a PA12 figuring I didn't need the extra seats and just wanted a plane for drilling holes in the sky. A 1957 172 came up for sale locally at a price I couldn't walk away from especially with a partner it was literally the cost of a used car. We knew we would have to put a little into it but have flown it 30 hours since September and the weather has kept that lower than either of us would like. I also have access to an Aeronca Champ (rebuilt as an L16) that I can fly pretty much anytime I want for very little money.

    We have flown the 172 with 3 people probably 1/3 to 1/2 the time. My co-owner is a student pilot so flies with me a lot between lessons and my wife loves to go flying anytime she can go. I know 172s are boring and blah blah blah but I really like this plane a lot and having the extra seats is nice although my co-owner and I are both big guys so the third passenger has to be fairly small and we keep the tanks at 2/3rds. If my wife and I were to go somewhere it has plenty of room for two plus lots of baggage and full fuel so long as you don't mind going at a little over 100MPH.