First Time Airplane Buyer....maybe

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Pierce Warren, Mar 12, 2021.

  1. Pierce Warren

    Pierce Warren Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm wondering what a good first airplane would be for the following pilot? Or if I should even buy right now.

    -110 hours Total Time (and on the rise)
    -ASEL PPL
    -Plans to do instrument rating in the future
    -Weekend day/overnight trips/casual weekday flying
    -Based out of KRVS (Tulsa, Oklahoma) so trips may be to the gulf coast, New Mexico area, maybe North?. I probably wouldn't do big trips until I was instrument rated. Mainly $200 hamburgers or a short distance overnight.
    -Would have financing on the airplane (still learning what that looks like for airplane ownership).

    Concerns:
    -Getting destroyed on insurance costs since I'm a new pilot without an instrument rating.
    -The cost of engine overhaul (although I know it's just part of the deal) scares me. Here you are with 1000 SMOH, ten years to go, and it's a guaranteed 30k in 10 years. I would put money aside per hour that goes towards engine overhaul but still.
    -General maintenance - I hear some planes are much more friendly than others whether it be parts availability or amount of maintenance per year.

    I had gone straight towards a C172 but had also read on POA that the costs of those right now are quite high. I thought about a Mooney M20C but I'm pretty sure insurance would be awful on that for a new pilot with no high performance/complex time.

    Planes I have time in:
    C172 (carb and fuel injected) - Currently renting these now
    DA20
    DA40

    Should I just continue renting until I build more hours and get my instrument rating? Or buy a cheap C152 to build time? Buy an IFR rated C152 and get my instrument rating? Or do you get a Bo or equivalent and get crushed in insurance for the first year and it is what it is.

    I understand there are plenty of ways to go about this, but these are my initial thoughts and I'm VERY interested in what all the experience has to say here in this forum. Thanks for the input.
     
  2. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    get your complex and hp. quick and easy enough to do and should help a little with insurance. a lot of peeps are getting beat up on insurance right now, I don't know how that impacts new owners/low timers but at least you can get that out of the way. also that will expose u to new planes that maybe u hadn't thought of before and u can make a more informed decision. lastly, MOONEY IS THE BIGGEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. er, um, sorry, I don't know where that came from.
     
  3. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    Not sure why lack of IR will effect your insurance rates that much on something like a 172 with over 100hrs in your log book. Hopefully others will explain that one.

    What about a hangar? Hate to ask but I strongly recommend having the plane selection (type, not specific airframe) nailed down while searching for a hangar. Then once you have the hangar get the plane. If you are where it hails or snows or both you'll be worry about you new bird.

    A friend at our airport first bought a 152 put a bunch of hours on it, then stepped up to a nice 172. He never complained about insurance. But just like all of us he has had MX issues that werent' fun ($$$$) to deal with.

    How many passengers 1, 2 or 3 that quickly narrows down some of the options.

    What is your budget? You are asking what planes? But not knowing your budget, I would just say buy a new SR20 and you will be happy for a long time.

    I think you will want a true 2+ person plane but that is just me.
     
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  4. Racerx

    Racerx Line Up and Wait

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    Bonanza or RV
     
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  5. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    That 1000SMOH motor could still need an overhaul in a few months. Only the engine knows for sure. That's why some people advise spending half your budget on the purchase price and use the other half for starting your maintenance reserve.
    I think the Beech Mousketeer is still underappreciated/undervalued. Grummans not named 'Tiger' might still be reasonable.
    If I had access to DA20/DA40, I wouldn't be in a big hurry to buy.
     
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  6. Cervieres

    Cervieres Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you can afford the acquisition cost, a DA40 will be very inexpensive to operate, maintain, and insure.
     
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  7. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Line Up and Wait

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    Grumman Traveler, Cheetah, or Tiger. Simple airplane, good speed, carries two with lots of baggage, or possible four depending on how you fuel it and the size of the folks, low maintenance and insurance costs.

    see... https://grummanpilots.org/home
     
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  8. Pierce Warren

    Pierce Warren Filing Flight Plan

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    Wow! Great replies guys. Already some good food for thought.

    @eman1200 I have quickly realized that Mooneys are pretty awesome...speed, fuel efficiency etc compared to others. I'm new to the game though so we'll see! I also can understand getting the HP and complex. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal to go get so I'll definitely look into that. Will be good experience.

    @Sinistar Hey an SR20 sounds nice :) I think my budget would be around 60k-70k? C'mon bank, give me money, please. I would prefer a 4 place airplane, BUT, the reality is, I'm not flying all kinds of people around. It is mainly just ME at this point, maybe 1 other person, and MAYBE the opportunity to fly a 3rd or 4th. I like the speed of RV's that's for sure...I love speed. Who doesn't!

    @asicer Agreed...scary to think about. But not a bad tip there going into a purchase with your maintenance budget already stocked and ready to spend so it's not a big deal WHEN you need to spend it. I've got a friend who owns a Grumman Tiger. Haven't flown in it yet though..The diamond aircraft were in my training days. I learned in the DA20, then got checked out in the DA40 for fun and 2 more seats (super fun to fly btw, at Galvin Aviation at KBFI), and I'm on C172's now which I enjoy. More rugged than the diamonds that's for sure.

    Thanks guys
     
  9. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Line Up and Wait

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    I've got a friend who owns a Grumman Tiger. Haven't flown in it yet though.

    Once you do, you’ll want one. lol
     
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  10. Pierce Warren

    Pierce Warren Filing Flight Plan

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    Great webpage there. I'll spend some time on it. Yeah he did my flight review, it was late so I had to leave. He flew it to KRVS which is where I had my flight review but I didn't have the chance to see it in person. Next time!
     
  11. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    If intending on instrument training and taking one- or two-leg trips with more than two people and a toothbrush between you, then a basic 4-place single will likely serve you well. C-172, PA-28-140/80, AA-5, AA-5A, Beech A-23/24 Super Musketeer are nice basic fixed gear 4-place aircraft. For instrument training and practical IFR use, you need to pay attention to avionics and avionics upgrades. The "affordable" planes will come with junk for avionics. Plan on spending some money on avionics unless you get a top-dollar plane that someone has already upgraded. For basic operating and maintenance costs, think about 4 times fuel costs or so. It will pretty much cost you to operate what it costs to rent, but you will have your own aircraft maintained in a known, and hopefully, high-quality state. Owning is more about convenience and safety than cost.

    The instrument rating doesn't necessarily save you that much on insurance. I think it gets me 5% off. Hours will have the biggest impact. As you build those up, and are accident-free, your rates will drop. As a low-timer, you may have higher rates initially. My hull and liability is only about $630 currently, and that's with a passel of avionics.

    Engines can go at any time, but mid-time engine that is well cared for should give you hundreds of hours before needing overhaul. I inherited a 600 hour engine with a field overhaul and it made 1800+ before reaching its expiration date. Overhaul costs are $20-30K depending on engine type and overhaul options.

    Ownership is worthwhile if you use your aircraft. Acquisition costs are to some degree returnable when you sell the aircraft. The operation and maintenance, and to to a large extent, upgrade costs are what you need to be comfortable with throwing away over time.
     
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  12. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Why insure it? They're (the insurance companies) betting you don't crash, you're betting you do. I went years flying cheaper planes without insurance until I got the hours to bring down the insurance price...and upgraded planes to the point where the price of the plane rose to a level that a crash would be a hardship.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
  13. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If you finance the plane, you need insurance.
     
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  14. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Oops, didn't see that he would finance. My new advice: don't do it. Never finance a toy.
     
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  15. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-takeoff checklist

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  16. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    Ha, this is so true. $140/hr would be a bargain at this point.
     
  17. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is the way to go. You can get a cream puff 150/152 for $30k, learn a ton about ownership, build hours at 5 gal/hr, get an instrument rating, and upgrade when you are (financially) ready.

    I'm biased because I've owned 2 150's and I think they're awesome airplanes. Super simple, reliable, cheap to maintain. I have so much fun in these airplanes, I just have to deal with going 20% slower than a 172. This hasn't stopped me from taking long trips and having a blast.

    I saved a ton of money getting my PPL in a 150 partnership, but also learned a lot about ownership. Now I own a better one by myself, and realize I'm not saving money (vs. renting a 150 for $110/hr from the FBO), but it's totally worth it.
     
  18. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    That only works if you literally have no assets. And it's not so much how much your aircraft is worth vs. the damage caused to that Citation, Porche, whatever expensive vehicle you accidentally taxied into... ;-)
     
  19. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    I’m pretty close to where you are with this pilot thing. What I choose to do was focus on getting a little more settled to understand what I would really like to fly.

    I suggest continue to rent for another year or so, focus on getting your instrument - will be as time consuming as getting your ppl. Get complex and HP as well. With that experience under your belt you’ll know so much better what plane to get.
     
  20. Southpaw

    Southpaw Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Where I live , Rental is out of the question. So after 20 hours in a 150 that belonged to the instructor I bought a well "Experienced" higher timed engine C172 . So far its been a good buy. It's been through 1 annual with no squawks.
    At my age if the engine makes it to its TBO it is a bonus.
    Instruments are VFR only , but my mission is good with that .
    Your age , Location , Mission (what you want to do with aircraft or where you expect to go) should be deciding factor on the aircraft and $ you will spend .
    I realized after 20 hours in the 150 with the CFI and I grossing out the 150 with out full fuel , a 172 was the better route for me.
    Insurance for me is a killer . $3551.00 for Liability and $30,000 hull insurance . Once licensed , it's gone or liability only.
     
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  21. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    OP: I would definitely spend more time renting or joining a club. Get your IR and a little more experience before jumping into aircraft ownership. At this point you probably don't know what you don't know. Insurance costs are honestly the least of your concerns when owning (at least they are mine)...
     
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  22. wheaties

    wheaties Pre-takeoff checklist

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    E-LSA: cheap (<100k), cheap to run (5g/hr of mogas,) and can be taken into light IFR is properly equipped. Also, you get to use experimental avionics prices.
     
  23. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’m thinking a 172 or Cherokee would be a great first plane in this situation. Both are stable, have 4 seats and are easy to fly. Plus I’d think the insurance will be more accessible without an ifr ticket.

    FWIW - when I started flying a 152 rented for $25/hr wet. I miss those days.
     
  24. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Anything retractable is going to have very high insurance. And some retracts are quite expensive to maintain.
    When I got my instrument rating, it did nothing for my insurance, nor did a seaplane rating. With my insurance, after the first year it went down, hours in type is the biggest thing I think.
     
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  25. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    A few general rules to know.
    Very rarely does your first plane match your actual mission.
    In most GA aircraft, if your fly less than 100 hours a year, renting is cheaper when comparing identical aircraft.
    You should have an oh sh** fund to handle a worst case event. E.g. engine grenades 30 minutes after you buy it.
    The super majority of planes for sale have deferred maintenance.
    Each system to maintain adds cost.
    From Tulsa, you likely need to a very far distance to actually get somewhere. As such, consider if you want a 200 hamburger plane or a travel plane.
    With avionics it is cheaper to buy what you want than upgrade.
    If you are mechanically handy, many planes that people say is very expensive you can actually do a lot of the MX and save a lot of money. This may allow you to get more plane for the money.
    Experimental planes will give the absolute most bang for the buck. But they are the hardest to resell.
    Consider an oh sh** I lost my job situation. How do you unload the plane? If you finance a plane this is an important consideration. Therefore you should likely stay away from less popular planes.
    And lastly, consider a partnership or club as ways to get your feet wet and gain knowledge. The plusses and minuses are a while separate thread.

    Tim


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  26. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    With avionics it can be harder to find what you want than upgrade.
     
  27. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    Touche

    Tim
     
  28. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    You still need liability coverage to protect your assets even if you don't insure the hull. No way I would go bare on liability.
     
  29. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    FWIW, my history was:
    1. Rented until earning the PPL. Flew lots of different models: C152 mostly, but also C172, PA28-140, Citabria, Aeronca Champ time, too. I liked the way the Cherokee flew and was already thinking low-wing for ownership.
    2. Immediately after the PPL, I purchased a cosmetically ugly but well-maintained 2-seat AA-1A and built about 400 hours VFR. Cheap to acquire, cheap to maintain, and cheap to insure. Total fun. Couldn't carry squat for payload. But I really learned to like the Grumman airplanes. I rented a clapped-out AA-5B (TIger) for some trips requiring better payload.
    3. I purchased an AA-5 to do instrument training in, to be able to carry more practical useful load, and fly at least regionally IFR after earning the rating. I still own this plane. It came with marginal but functional avionics. Over time, I have ripped it all out and replaced it what what is useful for flying IFR, including an AP and G5s. I sometimes wish I had purchased a Tiger, but then I remember that they cost twice as much to acquire at the time. Just under 120 kt at 8 gph is OK for regional and occasional longer trips.
    If I were starting over, I would skip #2 and move directly on to instrument training in a capable IFR aircraft. Way back then, however, you needed more hours before qualifying for instrument training. FYI, I paid cash for both of my planes. I don't like financing money sinks like vehicles. Used planes are not necessarily terribly expensive, really. (I paid less for both of my planes initially than for brand new automobiles at the same time.) It's the operating costs, maintenance, and upgrades that are the financial crunch. Ultimately, it is still about convenience and safety of personal flight, not cost. You are paying for any-time access and a known safety and maintenance profile. Think hard about what you are really going to do with the plane before deciding to purchase, and also whether or not you can sustain costs of ownership. It is possible to buy more plane than you need, with attendant extra ownership cost. I spent about 10 years in my AA-5 before deciding it was enough to meet my utilization needs, especially as I get older. It's fast enough to get somewhere, and slow enough that I can keep up as age advances. :)
     
  30. Marshall Alexander

    Marshall Alexander Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Don't leave experimental out. Lots of good RVs out there. I love my -9A.
     
  31. wilkersk

    wilkersk Pattern Altitude

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    I bought a tiny little fun-flier for less than $18k (including the cost to get it from Texas to Washington). I've racked up over 300 hours in it just a little over 3 years. Including hangar rent, insurance, maintenance and gas, my cost per flight hour is right about $100/hr. And, thats on an experimental that I maintain myself, has no avionics to speak of (no ads-b or transponder) and a VW engine. But, it is way, way more fun than droning around in a Piper/Cessna trainer. And, I've flown way more in the last 3 years than I would have if I were renting.
     
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  32. Pierce Warren

    Pierce Warren Filing Flight Plan

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    Hey all, thanks a ton for the insight into my original post. Obviously the whole thing depends on my mission. I would like a 4 seater but then I end up thinking that a lot of 4 seaters out there aren't really true 4 seaters (sacrifice gas, bags etc.). A couple people mentioned their RV and I have to say the RV line up looks awesome. I do like speed and I don't believe I would be carrying more than my self and another person very often if at all (even though it might be nice). I've also heard the RV's are low on maintenance, fuel burn is exceptional and of course the experimental title helps out with avionics upgrades. But I would stick to tricycle gear because I've also heard insurance goes way up on tailwheel. I've heard a lot!! haha A lot to think about. For now, I'll be in a C172 at $140/hour wet after tax. I'll definitely see about getting HP/complex endorsements though. That's a good first step in the right direction imo. Thanks again.
     
  33. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    If you can rent and fly your mission, do that. If you can’t, then buy a plane that is (a) reasonable to live with, (b) easy to sell, and (c) most importantly, capable of actually doing what you think your 90% mission is. For me, it was an Arrow. I flew the plane a bunch and it helped me understand and define my mission.
     
  34. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    General rule of thumb. Most light GA planes can either carry fuel or passengers. Normally the last few seats and luggage and swapped for fuel. So if you want to fly four people any real distance, you need a six seater. If you want to fly two people a long distance, then get a four seater. If you occasionally would fly four, but a short distance or do not mind fuel stops, get a four seater and expect to do lots of "pee" breaks. If you fly yourself, and rarely have anyone else, get a two seater,

    Tim
     
  35. DMD3.

    DMD3. Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is off topic, but will most airports let you rent a hangar (or at least get on the waiting list) if you don’t currently own an aircraft? I know there are some that will (I know of a non pilot who keeps his boat in a hangar, but this is not the norm), but will most of them permit you to rent?
     
  36. DMD3.

    DMD3. Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes, a lot of RVs can cruise around 160-170 kts at 8 gph.:cool:
     
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  37. Peter Anderson

    Peter Anderson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yep! Mine is 155 knots true at 7.5. And it likes to fly high. I flew 240 hours last year and spent less money overall than renting a 182 for 100 hours the year before. And went way faster to boot!


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  38. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    Many if not most airports will be reluctant to rent out an empty hangar unless it is the only way to rent it out. There is no fuel or maintenance business out of an empty hangar, and the FAA may not consider renting an empty hangar to be compliant with requirements of federal funding if there are aircraft owners available to occupy the vacancies.

    Waiting list? Sure. But when a hangar becomes available, someone with a plane may jump the queue.
     
  39. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    And a pleasure to fly.
     
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  40. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    And yes you’re figuring out, a true 4-person aircraft generally has six seats.