Help me choose my dream plane!

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by BoulderBill, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. BoulderBill

    BoulderBill Filing Flight Plan

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    I have the goal of buying my own plane one day.

    I'm not even a pilot yet, just studying ground school material, but I'm becoming obsessed with establishing an object for this vision I have!

    My missions would involve, in order of priority:

    1. Flying a family of four (2 adults, 2 children, modest baggage) from Boulder, CO to Louisville, Kentucky or to San Diego, CA at least appreciably faster than driving, which we do far too often. (Multiple stops are OK)

    2. Flying from Boulder to Rifle, CO to see my dad. This would involve some pretty serious mountain flying - crossing the divide at Rollins or Corona pass just outside Boulder and following the Colorado River down to Glenwood and down the I-70 corridor. (Awesome, right!?)

    3. Some intro/lite backcountry trips. I'm an avid backpacker and it would be a dream to fly into an airstrip to access some remote backcountry stuff.

    4. Fly into Black Rock City someday, if you know what I'm sayin'.

    I know I need power (for mountains/altitude), but I also don't want to break the bank with these 1000+ mile trips. I know those trips will be expensive, but I'd like to make them "attractive" from a fun vs. cost vs. convenience perspective.

    Maybe these are two planes? Maybe my dream plane covers the mountain flying and fun stuff and I have to rent a plane for the long trips, or visa versa? But maybe there's a magical option that gets most of this done-ish.

    For this dream to become reality, it has to fit my budget too. I'd love to have enough money to get a sweet six place turbo with creature comforts, but that won't be in the cards in the time horizon I'm working with (or ever). I'm thinking something in the sub-$100k range with moderate operating costs. Dream-worthy, but realistic. Obviously this would be an older plane, I would think.

    Thanks for reading. Thanks in advance to anyone who puts a moment of thought into this selfish request for wisdom.
     
  2. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    Uber. I'm serious. It's cheaper on a trip basis than a plane, plus you can drink and don't have to worry about a medical, or flight training or crashing in to mountains and things plus you can stop by the side of the road to pee and you can also buy beer and things.
     
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  3. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    So a question is a "selfish request for wisdom"?

    Oh boy am I a selfish bastard. :blush:
     
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  4. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    and things.
     
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  5. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    some of them are good.
     
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  6. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter PoA Supporter

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    Turbo 206. Yeah, it's relatively slow, but he did say, "faster than driving", not "faster than airlines".
     
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  7. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Oh.

    Well, then, nevermind. Carry on.
     
  8. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    Pilatus Porter.
     
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  9. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    "in the sub-$100k range with moderate operating costs."
     
  10. pigpenracing

    pigpenracing En-Route

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  11. JCranford

    JCranford En-Route

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    In for the win!
     
  12. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Fun to dream isn't it? :idea:
     
  13. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    A Cessna 182 if you like high wing or a Beech Bonanza if you like low wing. Maybe a Piper Cherokee 6 or Dakota (not as good on rough fields? not really sure). Skip retract or turbo on your budget.

    IMO, a Cessna 182 is a standard Rocky Mountain Airplane.
     
  14. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    Hey, I'm not a miracle worker. O-520 or IO-550 182 would be a good pick.
     
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  15. BoulderBill

    BoulderBill Filing Flight Plan

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    If I went high wing, what about a Cessna 180? Is a taildragger unsuitable for long distance for any reason? (Mission 1)

    Maybe just not worth the hassle?

    Having a turbo seems really valuable for mountain flying, but I don't see a lot of aircraft at the local airport flying clubs with turbos so maybe I'm off base.

    Bonanza for a low wing seems awesome but rules out Mission 3 I'm thinking.
     
  16. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    This depends on the size of the kids. When he said "family of four" I wondered if he meant tikes or teenagers. And tikes turn into teenagers.

    As far as the missions go, a 182 does fit the bill as long as the total weight being lifted is reasonable and six hours of flying to get somewhere outside of Colorado is okay.

    Otherwise I'm with @Everskyward , the 206 is called for. Or a 210 to go high over to Rifle and faster to the San Diego and Kentucky destinations. And that's just the Cessna lineup.

    There's equivalent aircraft in the Piper stable.

    One possible plus of the 182... if you've got the coin you could buy it early on and learn to fly in it, but most places would normally start you in something more economical to operate.

    Around here because of high altitudes and hot summer days, the venerable Skyhawk is the usual trainer and it's a two-place machine in summers not a four-place. Even my 182 would struggle to drag four full sized adults westbound over the rocks. Might find myself circling to climb on a hot day on this side of the Rockies to get enough altitude to go over a pass, and that leaves little margin once up in the pass itself.

    Mountain training is also a must have if you're going to make regular trips from Boulder to Rifle.

    San Diego, if you could go direct, and you can't... is 5 hours and 35 minutes aloft, and that's without a headwind. Almost a guarantee of a headwind westbound, so call it 6 and a quarter PLUS time for a landing and refueling, potty breaks, and feeding everyone.

    Louisville, KY is nearly 7 hours aloft, plus at least one fuel, potty, food stop, in a 182.

    What you need for those long hops is something fast, and fast usually means landing gear that won't be happy doing backcountry work. I think that adding the backcountry thing in either pushes you toward a high wing or better yet, a taildragger, and away from really fast slick stuff -- or you go the other way and get fast and don't do backcountry.

    The 182 and 206 will do both missions but will be slow on the long haul missions and aren't the perfect backcountry aircraft also, but will do that part better than many.

    I'd say: Learn to fly first and you'll have an appreciation for the performance numbers of the Skyhawk or other venerable training aircraft and know better what you're looking for after training.

    Other thoughts:

    San Diego is an "over the Rockies" or "around the Rockies via the south route and Albuquerque" flight. Both WILL happen if you fly that route via GA aircraft enough. There are days when the winds or weather sucks in the Rockies and works fine to "go around". It adds hours to the trip however. I've done the "must be in Las Vegas for a wedding" flight around the Rockies in the summertime. It's hot. Even at altitude. We still enjoyed ourselves, but my wife has been flying with me since we were teenagers. A modern spouse used to air conditioned comfort may beg to differ that spending 6.5 hours in a spam can to get just to Vegas, let alone, San Diego, isn't her thing when she can do it in less than an hour for peanuts on a low cost airline. Kids too.

    Kentucky is more likely to be "do-able" but again is 7 hours minimum aloft. Even my 182 with the largest long-range fuel tanks Cessna ever put in them, won't do that flight in one hop and my bladder definitely won't if I'm hydrating correctly. Not without climbing real high, grabbing a hell of a tailwind, and sucking oxygen from a bottle big enough for everyone on board, and even then, probably not. And you'll be bucking that westerly wind coming home most of the time, so coming back "uphill" still presents the logistics problems of landings and fuel and etc.

    All that said, I *like* traveling that way. As does my wife. When we have the time. Do you have two days to get out to KY and two days to get back or linger when the weather goes to crap somewhere along the way? Same with San Diego. An instrument rating or being willing to fly at night (not over the Rockies, but around...) gives options but fatigue can be a problem.

    Anyway, to go anywhere fast-ish in GA, within your budget, and carrying four people, you're looking at:

    Commanche
    210
    Lance / Saratoga
    Bonanza

    None of those are great backcountry aircraft.

    Probably the best thing for someone with a varied mission like that, or even some trips with only two people, would be rental in a well-equipped club. You're not far from Ten Hi Flyers at BJC and they operate some nice aircraft. Not sure what's for rent at Boulder, and you're too far from APA or I'd say you might even look into Independence Aviation and become a Cirrus-head for the long trips.

    Caution: Most rentals can't be landed "off airport" due to insurnace concerns. So if your fun flying is mostly backcountry, you'd want to own the backcountry bird and rent the travel bird.
     
  17. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Turbodakota....more better and cheaper

    ....and if you want to fly to the western slope regularly you may find that corona is a pain in the butt. There are better/lower routes.
     
  18. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Nothing wrong with the mighty turbo Dakota!

    Corona can a pain in the butt. Sometimes literally. LOL.
     
  19. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Pattern Altitude

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  20. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    PC-12....with a pro pilot. Party with Sac and 6PC in the back. o_O
     
  21. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter PoA Supporter

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    Maybe cheaper but not more better. ;)
     
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  22. BoulderBill

    BoulderBill Filing Flight Plan

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    OK, OK, I think I've got it! What about this?:

    A Cessna 180 or 185 for mountain flying; quick trips over to the Western Slope, weekend jaunts to Santa Fe or up to Wyoming, and maybe a few relatively slow long distance trips to San Diego and Louisville.

    Then I can flip a coin when planning those long trips (and by flip a coin I mean agonize over the options) to decide between taking the 180/185 or renting a faster plane. This even gives me the flexibility in case I take my sister-in-law and her S.O. in which case I could up the size potentially. (Note: I currently have no kids, that part was hypothetical - four adults and stuff in a 180 is likely too much, eh?)

    Then, when I make it big I get a Bonanza. ...or a Cirrus ...or a TBM ...as my wealth scales up, of course.

    Funny though, now my top mission has succumbed to the will of the other three. But that's OK, because the top priority mission (SoCal and KY) is also the least frequent.
     
  23. orange

    orange Line Up and Wait

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    Nothing wrong with being optimistic. But reality check, most people never get anywhere near being able to afford a TBM.
     
  24. citizen5000

    citizen5000 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    You won't have a mission or find out if you love the sport until you get trained and start flying regularly. You will likely train in something slow like a Cessna 172.

    If you can afford to buy your trainer plane then you have a more immediate problem buying something now, then later sell it and get something more capable. But you should get some serious hours before risking millions in a high performance cross-country cruiser, unless you have money to burn.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
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  25. BoulderBill

    BoulderBill Filing Flight Plan

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    This is why I used the word "Dream" in the post title. Even a 152 could be considered a dream at this point! Like I said, I have no experience yet and I'm sure all my opinions might change as I get time under my belt. But who says a guy can't dream? Am'I'rite?

    OK, but while we're on the topic... what are some of the most affordable planes that would perform at the altitude of BDU throughout the year? I'm not talking about mountain flying here, just for training purposes on the flatland. I have the slightly more realistic dream of purchasing a 2-seater for my training and finding a freelance CFI in the area. Is a typical (100HP) 152 feasible in the summer heat just to bop around Denver, Fort Collins, etc. with two people? I'm talking about something in the sub-$30k price range for this sub-question. Thoughts?

    (By the way, thanks @denverpilot for the super comprehensive answer! I'm still absorbing all of what you said, but it definitely has given me food for thought; hence the shift to a 180/185 and renting a long hauler as needed)
     
  26. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    180/5 is a heck of a plane, you'll get about 140kts out of a 185, you can land nearly anywhere depending on how she's configured (8.5s, 29s, floats, amphibs or skis) which can make up for any speed differences between a Bo and a skywagon, the 300HP FI engine will handle mountains well, simple systems, good IFR platform, it's what I have and I love it.

    That said, you know a 185 goes for more than most of the Bos you'll see at many airports??

    A 180 isn't as expensive, still more than a 182 though, and it will do most of what a 185 will do.

    Both will run circles around a 182/206.

    Only draw back is the cabin is a little more narrow, never been a issue for me, but if you fly fat people is could be a issue.
     
  27. JCranford

    JCranford En-Route

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    You might want to factor in that not many places rent the faster / traveling type planes. If I tried to find a rent on a Cherokee 6, I only know of one place and that would be a club to join that has one.
     
  28. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    A 152 will work if you and your instructor don't weigh too much. A 172 is a better choice for most.
     
  29. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Any airplane that's good for backcountry flying isn't good for long trips. The strength of a general aviation airplane is in regional travel. If you're thinking of loading up a Skylane with four people plus bags you're not going to have all that much range, and trying to go 1000 miles into the wind means a trip time not all that different from driving.

    1000+ mile trips are best made in an airliner.
     
  30. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    This is why a Husky is better for long distance than a Supercub. 20knots faster and almost as good short/rough field.

    For any Colorado public airport a 182 or 206 will work just fine.
     
  31. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Just make sure you're flexible and can bend easily. A lot of folks can fold up that small anymore. :rolleyes:
     
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  32. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    The 150/152 is very marginal in summer during the heat of the day. I weighed a lot less, as did my instructor, in 1991 and we switched to a 172 when summer rolled around. I soloed in a 150 at the now long-defunct Aurora Airpark, and climb rates in cold weather were often 200-300 ft/min with both of us on board. Solo it was great. As the spring came, the old girl just didn't have the horsepower to get the job done.

    That said, at least one club is operating a 152 and the instructors teaching in it are the lucky souls who look like twigs. LOL. Helps both for Weight and Balance, as well as for only having half of their arm in your lap. :) I know a really skinny instructor at Aspen if you felt like driving way south for lessons. Good guy. Looks like a beanpole. My initial primary instructor was also a beanpole in 1991.

    You can fly nearly anything here if you keep taking fuel/weight out of the tanks, but at some point that becomes a diminishing returns problem.
     
  33. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter PoA Supporter

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    I instructed in a 152 at BJC. The performance was very marginal in the summer and I weigh about 115 (then and now). I don't remember having any huge students. Most were standard FAA or less. We steered the larger folks to the 172.
     
  34. BoulderBill

    BoulderBill Filing Flight Plan

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    Duly noted on the 152s. It sounds "possible" but not a great option. I hover around 190-200# (if we're getting personal).

    Thoughts on an older 172 making it safely around the mountains in good conditions with a well-trained pilot?
     
  35. coloradobluesky

    coloradobluesky En-Route Gone West

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    180 horse 172 with 2 people can get up and over the Colorado Rockies fairly well. Pilots have done it with 150 hp 172's. But I wouldnt call it doing it well.
     
  36. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Folks at Leadville have been known to train in a 150 hp 172. They fly early in the day in the summer. But then most folks fly early in the day in the summer when in the mountains. A 180 hp conversion 172 is much more better in the hills since you can actually climb faster than 400 fpm...and it's pretty easy to encounter a 400 fpm downdraft in the hills. Even with the turbodakota and a light load I'm very careful about terrain clearance once the winds start blowing or the afternoon convection has started.
     
  37. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    On the monkey flight I had some codger actually warn me on the APA ground freq that the winds were high that day when I told the controller I wanted a NW departure from APA to Corona Pass.

    Poor guy was probably a CFI scared to death some idiot was headed to his death and said something. I replied back that I knew and it was okay, I knew, and thanks for the warning.

    Wasn't going to tie up the frequency telling the whole story of going up there to see how ridiculous it was and whether I could get a climb rate that would keep me adequately above the terrain or not, but if not, I was going to go around the Rockies entirely. I was also solo so no passengers on board to barf.

    As it turns out, I both got my butt handed to me with continuous moderate turbulence for four miles and eventually the elevator ride up once I got past the damn rotor/mixed area, and a lovely smooth ride henceforth. As expected. Just before Eldora Ski Area I was seriously considering bailing out. Bumps like that just suuuuuuuck.

    No way I'd fly a family of four through that. That was a "I know what's coming, my seat is all the way down, my lap belt is so tight it hurts and I know it either becomes an elevator ride up at Eldora or I'm bailing out back to BJC.

    No way in hell I would have even attempted it in anything less than a 182, either.

    Mountain flying just sucks sometimes. That day was a calculated assault on Corona Pass that if at any point any parameter hasn't been met, it's time to turn 45 or more out and head back downhill.

    The OP kinda needs to know that traveling with passengers westbound in the rocks here is often severely limited by weather and weather includes wind. Wind at 14,000'. Not in Boulder.

    Nothing in the price range is even close to being capable of IFR in the rocks, and the mountain trip to Rifle will be cancelled for wind as often as it'll be canceled for weather and clouds.

    The KY trip with an instrument rating won't be cancelled or delayed as often but will by thunderstorm lines between here and there and icing in winter.

    Light GA aircraft are not always the best way to travel. To keep get-home or get-there-itis from being a factor, I'm always willing and able to land and continue a flight via rental car or last minute commercial airline ticket. That's not so bad for the two of us. Expensive for four.

    That's said, I've buzzed all over the US VFR. I just always had the option to quit flying at any time and the flexibility not to arrive until another day later than originally planned. Slept on an FBO couch or two when solo. Bought some hotel rooms when passengers were along.
     
  38. BoulderBill

    BoulderBill Filing Flight Plan

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    @denverpilot I think I was already aware of most of what you said there.

    I wouldn't attempt a flight over Corona or anything like it without adequate training and a laundry list of reasons not to. I'm thinking of those trips as more like "Hey dad, I might try to make a flight over to see you in the morning because things look promising, but there's a good likelihood I'll bail and have to try for another day." ...that kinda thing.

    And again, I'll admit to being totally uninitiated here save for an unnatural amount of research prior to even getting in the plane with a CFI even once. It's just something I've always wanted to do and the reality of it being possible somewhat soon gets my psyched.

    I don't think I'll be expecting any of this journey to add to the 'convenience' side of the equation in life. I'm just looking for cool **** to do that not a lot of people get the chance to do. ...like fly instead of drive ...or fly over mountain passes I've camped at. That's pretty awesome.
     
  39. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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    Tenhi flyers at BJC can put you into a Dakota, a Bonanza and a Saratoga as an owner. Our planes would cover your wants and needs. Unfortunately there's a waiting list to get in, but check us out at www.tenhiflyers.com
     
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  40. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    For that size plane, I'd be looking at a wittman tailwind