Help me pick a plane (UPDATE: PICKED ONE)

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Ed Haywood, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have to do a bunch of business travel for next year or two, probably 150-200 hours a year. Not too keen on riding in a small tube with 40 strangers with unknown COVID status. Mostly regional trips of approx 600 miles, eg from home in Tampa up to coastal areas of NC or MS, with a few longer trips to OH and possibly CO front range. Max load would be me plus one pax and light bags for 1-2 nights. Priorities would be reasonable XC speed, range to go 650-700 miles nonstop, and stable platform for learning IFR. Would like to avoid potential big maintenance hits or pressing upgrades in next year or two, so looking at low time or mid time engines. Need a model that will sell fairly quickly if cash needed for other purposes.

    Background: I'm 55 y/o and have 300 hours, accumulated over 25 years of sporadic flying. Half of that is tailwheel and a quarter of it is upside down, mostly in a Decathlon. I also have about 100 hours XC in a C182. Always wanted to get an instrument rating but never quite got it done, mostly because I fell in love with taildraggers and acro. With my near vision starting to get worse (normal age related), I feel like it is now or never for the IFR ticket.

    My budget right now is $60-70K. Am focusing my search on early PA 28R Arrows. I have some time in them and am comfortable flying a retract. Seems to be a reasonable number of those on the market in that range with mid time engines and partial avionics upgrades. Am also looking at C182 and Cherokee 235, though my budget will only barely scrape the bottom of the pool on those. Would also consider a C172, though those are either high priced or have 10K+ hours, or a Cherokee 180 with nicer avionics. I prefer a CS prop.

    Any other aircraft that I should be looking at? Older Mooneys are in my range, but my impression is those are less forgiving for training. Love a Bonanza but that is probably overkill for my mission, and out of my price range except for a few of the very oldest planes. C177/177RG, and 172RG are possible, but there seem to be very few on the market.

    I don't have a lot of knowledge on avionics packages optimized for IFR. Seems like a lot of the older birds have INOP autopilots, and that would be bad for a student instrument pilot, especially one who is juggling reading glasses. Also seems like I should prefer GPS WAAS over old school systems like NDB, DME, etc.

    Finally, some of the nicer arrows are on the west coast, so I might have to do a distance buy. Any tips on that, such as finding an unbiased inspector for a pre-buy?

    TIA for any wisdom you wish to share.
     
  2. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Cirrus
     
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  3. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    If you've got $250k I've got an RV-6A for ya.

    [Wife wants it sold]
     
  4. Luigi

    Luigi Line Up and Wait

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    You might want to talk to J in Torrance, Ca and form a "wife approved" LLC.
     
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  5. 1anG

    1anG Pre-Flight

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    Mooney, I picked one up at 200ish hours of flight time. Is it unforgiving? Not at all just need a CFI that can teach you the Mooney, as it has it quirks. I think to myself sometimes I should have gotten something easier, but in reality as I fly it more and mor, almost up to 100 hours on in since September, I make it worse in my
    Head then it actually is.

    The Mooney I have is a J model, it’s heavy on the controls during take off, landing is definitely different and trim is my best friend. But I don’t overshoot runways due to any Mooney float, sometimes I get a bounce but I just add a tad of power and settle her down.

    I love my Mooney, because of how quick it is while also sipping fuel. And I love it when approach gets mad at me for almost hitting 200 in my shallow descents. #sorrynotsorry
     
  6. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    The good thing is it's just two people and light baggage.

    In our 182 (fixed gear) that 600miles is 4hrs nonstop with no headwind. Probably rare you'll do it in one shot with a passenger and being in your 50's (bathroom break).

    I would think this is Mooney, 177RG and maybe Viking territory. The 177 fixed gear, 172 either gear I think are just too slow.

    Besides Mooney this seems to be RV, Bonanza, SR22, TTx, Columbia territory. If you throw in any winter stuff the list gets narrower. Maybe an older 210 as well.
     
  7. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    I'd keep saving
     
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  8. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    I dont think you'd do this flight often unless you get it down to 1 leg and 3.5hrs. Plus FIKI for winter. As @ktup-flyer said you probably need more money....sucks.
     
  9. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This. I think the only model that fits your needs would be a C-172RG. But even then, it’s a serious haul to CO in that thing. I’m afraid that other than a Mooney, you’ll need more than $80k to find a reliable real cross country machine.

    Autopilot is no big deal for training. I didn’t realize GA aircraft even had autopilots until well after my commercial rating. Shows you the junk I flew in the beginning, but it forced me to be really good with the “turn time twist throttle talk” bit, if you know what i mean. When I first flew a Cessna with a functioning autopilot it almost felt like cheating. It is handy for long cross countries however. Rumor has it that some APs will fly instrument approaches on their own now.

    Cherokee 180 is a training option, but not fast enough to be a real XC workhorse, unless time is not an issue. I find that for work flying, I can’t get there and back fast enough! And even then, a nice Chero 180 with a solid IFR panel with decent autopilot is going to climb into and past your price range. I think you’re looking at a Mooney, after you get your IFR ticket on a rental.
     
  10. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    With prevailing winds, even in a Mooney it will be +10 hours flying west. 1-2 stops depending on your tolerance for long flights.
    E is probably your best choice given your price range.
    But you’d still have to fly commercial when weather is bad.
     
  11. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Wondering why folks don't think the Arrow would be ok for this? Seems like a lot of recommendations for Mooney, 177 and 182, but why not the earlier Arrows? You should be able to get one in that price range with a mid-time engine and ok avionics, I would think.
     
  12. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    And nobody said Bonanza yet?? Bonanza.
     
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  13. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Arrow would be ok but a good one not in his price range. Piper Comanche 250 is an option with good AP and GPS. But Mooneydriver has a point. Unless you are very flexible timewise, you’ll still need to hop on the airlines now and then unless you have full FIKI systems and avionics for bad weather and icing. But you’re talking $200k and up for that. Non-FIKI GA piston aircraft don’t do real weather very well, IFR in one is basically low fog and scattered enroute cumulus.
     
  14. 1anG

    1anG Pre-Flight

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    Because of his price range, bonanzas are pricey, other option though would be a debonair. But I had trouble finding a good one of those.
     
  15. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Interesting.... will you be allowed to replace it with something?
     
  16. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    yeah, the Bo comment was a joke.

    I still think you could get a decent Arrow in that price range.
     
  17. MountainDude

    MountainDude Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If I needed to be somewhere on a regular basis, I would get very proficient in IFR and get a twin with FIKI. The pressure to be somewhere and avoid the airlines would skew my decision-making and allow more risk than is safe. Good luck.
     
  18. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The CO trips are not essential, more of a nice to have option. The important trips are the 650 mile runs to MS and NC. I've made those trips about 10 times in an old ragged out C182, and the speed and endurance were sufficient for my needs. Would love a C182 but I don't need the capacity and so don't want the cost and potential maintenance expense of a 6 cylinder engine. So really just asking which commonly available birds in 60-70K range other than an Arrow might fit the bill. Grumman Tiger, Beech Sierra, Cherokee 180?

    I'll have plenty of flexibility to delay trips for weather. Not planning on hard IFR, just punching through a layer here and there to get on top. I have no intention of FIKI.

    Not opposed to a Mooney, but I'll have limited training time over next year, and would prefer to put that effort towards my instrument rating as opposed to working on mastering handling on landings, etc.

    Not an issue of spending, got the dough, just don't want to reduce my liquidity with one kid in an expensive college and another on the way next year. If I can't make it work on this price range, I'll reevaluate my options.

    There are 8 early 70's Arrows on TAP that meet my criteria in that price range. None are "perfect"; all have a compromise or two, such as INOP autopilot, issues with early logs, or damage history from way back.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  19. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    I own an Arrow II, sure I recommend it in your price range. Old 182 and Mooney F are fine options as as well. I can afford more airplane, but choose to stick with this one for a series of reasons we can discuss via PM if interested in that dialogue. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
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  20. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    650 sm would be at the ragged edge for nonstop range no-wind in a Grumman Tiger with reasonable IFR reserves. I'd be probably doing this distance in two legs.

    To make these flights frequently with IFR capability, I'd want WAAS GPS and an autopilot, as well as weather display capability. Even with all that, dispatch reliability will be quite weather dependent.
     
  21. catmandu

    catmandu Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    He said he succumbed to the conventional gear mistress, straight -6 is the way to go.

    FTFY :rolleyes:
     
  22. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    :hairraise: What?
    She's tired of competing with Candy? :blowingkisses:

    Gotta admit that's an appropriate price in the circumstance, however. :lol:
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  23. Computerjim

    Computerjim Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A 250/260 Comanche would be a good choice. Speed and range are good. Faster and carry more load than any arrow ever built. Prices are semi reasonable. There are a lot of dogs out there but there a many good ones too!
    I put 3500 hours on my 1960 250 running up and down the in the Western US.
     
  24. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  25. JCranford

    JCranford En-Route

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    Thats going to be tough parameters especially the price range. That cuts out a lot of avionics, range and speed.
     
  26. WDD

    WDD Cleared for Takeoff

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    Here's an outside of the box idea. Rent. Long hauls rent a Cirrus SR22. Shorter hauls a 182 and save money.

    It might be more expensive, but in return at the end of the year(or 2) you won't have all the costs associated with buying and selling a plane. You'll be liquid - so if cash becomes tight you can change things up instantly. You'll have someone else take the cost and risk of maintaining, you won't have the risk of a plane down for 3 months with an unexpected problem, risk of a major expense, etc. And if you can plan a few weeks out chances are you'll have a plane available.
     
  27. Cervieres

    Cervieres Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That’s a good thought. Cirrus and Diamond both have shared ownership programs, but I have no idea how much buy in costs. Maybe someone else has experience and can weigh in. An SR22 or DA42 would suit your mission well.
     
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  28. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've been renting for about 10 years. Availability just isn't sufficient. I need the ability to do short notice trips and extend when necessary. Also, renting comes with increased pressure to get home when the window ends. Finally, hard to find rental aircraft that are not sketchy. On my last XC flight in a C182 I lost power to all my electronics about 30 minutes out from landing. The stack just shut down. I knew the area and was headed into an uncontrolled airfield in VFR so it was a non-event, but in IFR it would have been quite a bit more exciting. So yeah, done with renting.

    LOL, the little voice in the back of my head tells me what I really want to do is forget the IFR, get an old Decathlon and scud run. Slower but so much funner. Two years of billing my business at the GSA rate of $1.27/mile will build up enough maintenance fund to get metal wings. Obviously a terrible idea for many reasons and I keep telling the little voice to shut up.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  29. Adam Weiss

    Adam Weiss Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I paid right at the top of your range for a 2004 RV-9A with extended range tanks, a GTN-650, autopilot, and IFR panel.
    I plan 155kts true at 8.5gph.
    It takes me, the wife and all the baggage we need.
    As others have pointed out, the big thing you'll be missing is FIKI.
     
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  30. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I agree, rent the long haul trips but invest in a 170-? one aircraft that wouldn't loose money, and a great 2 place with bags.

    start building your 170-B

    1952 CESSNA 170B
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  31. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    I did all my instrument and commercial training in a late 60's C model Mooney. I had no trouble with it. The panel had been upgraded to a standard six pack but I don't think the shotgun panel would have been any more difficult to learn on. I think the older ones can offer good value if you can fit in them comfortably. I might also take a look at Commanches for your mission, a Piper cabin with a Mooney (like) wing.
     
  32. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    FIKI not a requirement. I will be flying mostly in Florida and along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts up to the Carolinas. AOPA graphic indicates icing conditions aloft 10-20% of time in these areas November-March. I have plenty of flexibility to change my itinerary to work around unfavorable weather.

    A 172 would be just fine, but the popularity of that aircraft is reflected in the price for anything decent.

    Maybe I should look harder at a Cherokee 180. Fixed gear means less maintenance, and for my price range I could get a nice one.
     
  33. WDD

    WDD Cleared for Takeoff

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    Cervieres might have a nice bend to this idea. Instead of renting, as you can offer an agency a potential of 100 hours of uease, is there a shared ownership / executive service for Cirrus that is offered? What about leasing a late model Cirrus? Just trying to get you in a late model reliable plane without tying up your capital.
     
  34. simtech

    simtech En-Route

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    Up your budget to $80k and look at Bo's and deb's. You will be happy...can still get them under 80k too so no worries there.

    Cherokee 180's will be too slow for youm trust me. 400nm trips often get taxing real fast. Ask me how I know.
     
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  35. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    That one, over there.
    No one more to the right.
    YUP, that one.
    That wasn't hard at all.
     
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  36. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Honestly, I have little interest in flying a Cirrus, for reasons including but not limited to cost. I don't want to derail the dialogue with a Coke-vs-Pepsi topic, so let's just say the budget doesn't work. I doubt a fractional or leasing arrangement would work. I feel I need the kind of scheduling flexibility that only sole ownership or perhaps a small partnership can provide.

    I've flown Bo's and Deb's and like them quite a bit, but I feel like I would be paying up front for HP and useful load that I don't need. Also, have heard many times that the money you save on an older Bo quickly gets consumed in annual costs.

    I am considering upping my budget 10K for Arrows. There are a few older ones on TAP in 70-80k range with new G5 and GPS WAAS avionics packages. Ads are silent on log issues and damage history, which has me a bit leery. Digging further.

    Searching mostly on TAP. Where else should I be looking?
     
  37. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Dug a bit on that Arrow with the sweet G5/650/345 package and found this tidbit about the seller:

    https://www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/33145

    This investigation was based on information received from the DEA, alleging that Maiz was filing numerous fraudulent aircraft registrations in furtherance of illicit activities associated with foreign criminal organizations. Maiz is the owner of Pilotmec Aircraft Services Inc. located in Pembroke Pines, FL. The investigation revealed that he falsely registered aircraft for foreign buyers from Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela and Brazil and that he allowed his clients to utilize his bank account to move money to purchase the aircraft from U.S. sellers.
    From the light sentence I'm assuming he was somewhat unwitting. But holy cow, talk about scary business partners.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
  38. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    With your Arrow background, flying Mooney is a piece of cake. They fly very well when slow. So, don't believe these tales of being less forgiving.

    The annoying part about Mooney is that it takes forever for it to slow down. I start pulling power when I'm still 18 minutes ETA. The forward planning necessary for it is very easy VFR. It's when you're IFR you start having issues with getting last-minute descents. But I'm not rated, so no problem :)

    However, I also found that there's very little to choose between 1968 Arrow and 1968 Mooney, speed wise. I get about about 130-135 knots from both. If you listen to owners of ancient Mooneys, they often claim 150 knots. Maybe with the full array for J windshield, all seals, gear doors, one-piece belly. My M20E only makes 150 knots at 2700 rpms and burning 13 gph.

    One thing I really hated about Arrow was its poor climbing ability. On the same engine as Mooney, it gave me about 500 fpm, and Mooney can do 1000 fpm. Mooney's wingspan is way wider, so maybe that's why. One time I was climbing out from Goodyear near Phoenix and tried to climb over the next Delta (Deer Valley or Scottsdale, I don't recall now), in order to hit a "mail slot" between it and Bravo. I could not make it and had to turn back in the last second. I'm sure controllers laughed themselves silly at my antics.

    I only ever bought and sold on Barnstormers. Had some contacts over TAP, but it never connected.
     
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  39. wayne

    wayne Pattern Altitude

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    I wouldn't want to try to stay on a schedule in the southeast without an instrument rating. I live in the metro Atlanta area, so it's not just conjecture.



    Wayne
     
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  40. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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