I bought an airplane. It was a lifelong dream. 6 months later, I'm out. (Reddit post)

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by fasteddie, Jul 22, 2022.

  1. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

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    That's actually an excellent question. In my case, I had dealt a little bit with the shop & mechanics I currently use when i was a club member as they took care of the club plane. Now I'm in a different club, and they use a different mechanic who I've not met, but I also heard multiple long time-owners say that she's great. I think word of mouth is probably the best way to figure out who to even approach. After that, I feel like just talking to them in person and looking around their shop will tell you a lot. Before I bought my plane I had a discussion with my current shop and told the DOM what I was buying and that I wanted them to take care of it. We talked about the plane and he agreed there would be no problem as they are very familiar with Pipers, and they would have time to work on her.
     
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  2. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    I've had fun dumping on the original Reddit post but the underlying issues the author complains about have been true for at least the last 20 years, and they are:
    1. Shortage of A&Ps to work on GA. They would return your calls and seek out your business if they needed it. They are perpetually swamped.
    2. Inability of A&Ps to troubleshoot: they can change a tire or a mag, but ask them to troubleshoot a gyrating fuel pressure gauge on a PA28 and they are stumped
    3. Low wages for A&Ps: they don't make much, this contributes to 1 and 2 above
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2022
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  3. Capngrog

    Capngrog Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No, glass is the present. The future is you sitting in your basement monitoring the progress of your autonomous flying machine via the "glass" of your computer monitor.

    By the way, ignore the wisdom of the "old guy" at your peril.
     
  4. Rich Holt

    Rich Holt Line Up and Wait

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  5. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    And from the shop owner's perspective:

    1. Insurance that runs approximately 10-15% of the shop gross, and will fight tooth and nail against paying any claim (in sharp contrast to flight school insurance, who wallpaper anyone who can spell "claim" correctly in cash and prizes)

    2. A talent pool that is more akin to a crapped-in puddle, where a "green" A&P will actually remove value from the shop for their first 2-3 years of employ. Then once they get skills and are sufficiently non-lethal without constant supervision, they can bail to anywhere else for more $

    3. The constant kvetching of aircraft owners who want all service on their handmade antique aircraft to be as simple, predictable and "rack rated" as their Honda Civic, which is itself nearing antique status

    4. Shoddy parts vendors who barely honor their tiny warranty, leaving guess who to eat the labor for R&R/troubleshooting of the "new" or "overhauled" item that turned out to be trash.

    5. FAA critters who obstruct every damned thing from their comfy chair, but still find time to sneak out of said chair and poke head into the hangar and threaten/complain/cheshire-cat-grin about some just-overdue calibration sticker or other minor paperwork shuffle like we were a baby-killing factory.

    Add the aforementioned constant threat to livelihood and savings accounts should an incident occur, and, well... I wonder why more folks aren't diving into this pool :D

    Both sides of this coin have long and valid complaints about one another. It's pretty intractable and I don't know the easy fix.
     
  6. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Not that it matters, I’ve changed APs 3 times in 6 years due to them retiring.
     
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  7. Wagondriver

    Wagondriver Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I know of a plane sitting on a ramp, hasn’t flown in a few years. It’s a very high maintenance plane anyway. Owner decides it’s time to get it annualed, goes to the shop pestering them and basically demanding to know when it will get worked on.
    The problem is that the shop owner knows of the guy and that he is really cheap, sometimes doesn’t pay and is jerk. Shop owner who usually can work in just about anything, says “no thanks”.
     
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  8. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

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    Meanwhile:
     
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  9. Country Flier

    Country Flier Line Up and Wait

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    Meh...name any business, and I can name a list of problems like this. I run a construction business on the side, and it seems every time I get fed up with its own problems, an event comes along (most recently COVID) that makes me a boat-load of money, and I'm willing to stick it out with the problems.
    If an A&P shop was soooo bad and soooo much worse than any other business then either, A) We would be paying WAAAAY more for mechanics, B) There wouldn't be any A&P mechanics, or C) All of the above.
     
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  10. AES256

    AES256 Pre-Flight

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    That was a sad story and hope those issues are spreading throughout.
     
  11. Country Flier

    Country Flier Line Up and Wait

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    Now there's a guy that nobody would blame if he quit this hobby, yet persevered! Makes the reddit guy sound like he's a six-year-old having a tantrum.
     
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  12. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Line Up and Wait

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    I'm always complaining about how much work and aggravation it is to maintain my experimental aircraft. I really hate working on it anymore. The build itself burnt me out.

    This guys story has got me thinking that perhaps I need to adjust my attitude and be grateful I don't have to rely on someone else, and someone else's schedule.

    Parts are no issue at all. Call Zenith Aircraft and I'll have them in a couple of days. Sometimes I can make them, or use an aftermarket part. In fact, I can't remember ever having trouble getting a part. Ok, I've ordered about a million parts wrong and then had to return them for the right one, but that's the only trouble I"ve had.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2022
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  13. Gary Ward

    Gary Ward Cleared for Takeoff

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    I would ask to see logs and who serviced the plane before you bought it. I think I would try to stay with the same AP if possible. Why I suggested buying a local plane.
    Wouldn't you find a place/airport to keep your plane at before you buy it?
    Then is there a shop on the field? If so ask around the airport and get some references on the shop. I bet many planes on the field are serviced annual-led there?
    If no good shop on the field then maybe look for another airport to base your new plane at. A on site shop is better than flying somewhere every time you need service. Sometimes you can't fly the plane safely to get something fixed.
    Or ask every plane owner you see and know who does their work. Word of mouth is very powerful where I live. Maybe not the same where to OP lived?
    At my airport the shop takes your plane out of your hangar to their hangar for service and returns to your hangar/tie down spot and you don't have to do anything other than pay the bill. How nice that?
     
  14. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    And I reject the characterization that this stereotype represents the plurality, let alone the majority, of flying lawnmower owners left flying in this moribund hobby. I may object to the parts pricing structure and AD-causing moral hazards (usually a result of bad-faith profit driven actors in the flight training revenue side of the sector... or E.R.A.U. for short) of these over-regulated spam cans, but I've never in 15 years stiffed the mechanics working on any airplane I own. Yet the second I dare highlight the problems, or mention primary non-commercial, it's all of a sudden blasphemy and get tone-policed (effectively what's happening to the redditor) or likened to a "broke jabrony"? Screw that tribalism.

    And that's noted. But to piggyback on the subtext of your post, those anecdotes aren't the feel good wins people on here think they are. To fence-sitters and pedestrians, the dynamic you describe is not a compliment. IOW, that isn't the semantics of 'cathartic pursuit'. Recreational pursuits are supposed to be cathartic, not hunger games of "I can tolerate pain more than you so I win". Hobby, catharsis, recreation. People keep using those words on this hobby. To quote montoya:
    [​IMG]

    Throwing True Scotsman fallacies onto the critics isn't gonna win any more traction, and sectarian gatherings like OSH are nothing more than echo chambers of survivorship bias.
     
  15. H.D. Webb

    H.D. Webb Filing Flight Plan

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    Yes, I often tell people at my day job that my retirement goal is to be an airport bum. There's so much to learn and great people to interact with at the airport.
     
  16. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    Let me know when you open your GA maintenance shop and I'll stop by. :)

    I kept my other businesses. Flight School and Shop were sold off after I rode the rodeo bull for 7 and 5 years respectively. Others make it work and are likely better at the business than I am, so I'm just one opinion on the subject. I actually agree with your general premise, although my 'talent pool' remarks seems particularly acute for GA maintenance -- there is enough fat on the steak in my other businesses to make up for the various problems. You end up $10/hr more than another shop, and you can find yourself posted about on all of the forums complaining. The pilot community is really small, I love it for that reason, but there are downsides.

    If I opened a GA maintenance shop again (and again to your point, I've considered it) -- I'd probably have a $175/hr shop rate and no business. :) But when that random oil change showed up, he'd get SUCH great service before I socked him with the $1200 bill, he might even wait a week before throwing those 1-star reviews about how he got fleeced. :D
     
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  17. Country Flier

    Country Flier Line Up and Wait

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    I don't mean to imply we all must face clear problems and "tolerate pain" in this hobby (although to some extent, we must tolerate some negative in any hobby), I'm saying in my 25 years of plane ownership, I haven't tolerated anything nearly as bad as OBW, yet my same 25 year experience makes me believe the reddit story is a self-induced, one sided problem...especially when he is ready to quit when he virtually hasn't even really started.
     
  18. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    Airports around me, good luck finding anyone just hanging around anymore.
     
  19. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    At some point it makes no sense to keep throwing money at 40 year old King 55 HSIs and old legacy autopilots. These systems are at EOL, and keeping them going will cost more than a G5 or GI275, so who can blame a guy for upgrading?
     
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  20. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    OPs tale isn't that big a deal. Airplanes fly just fine without OBS or radios. Put an "inoperative" sticker on it and fly.

    I read a tale from a fellow who bought a Mooney only to discover on its first annual that the aircraft had significant corrosion on its steel innards and was no longer and not likely ever again to be airworthy. Now that's apocryphal.
     
  21. SkyChaser

    SkyChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    I thought that Mooneys were immortal, unconquerably superior machines that came with a hyperdrive option as factory-default, all while using only twelve gallons of fuel to travel to Pluto, from the posts on here. Now I'm disappointed to learn they are subject to the same afflictions as every other aircraft.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2022
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  22. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Bro do you even lift
    [​IMG]
     
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  23. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You’re confusing Mooneys with Mooney pilots.
     
  24. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    If the steel innards within a Mooney become corroded it can be game over. The repairs to the tubing aren't that bad, though they do require removing skins. Repairs to the spar cap will usually coast more than the aircraft if worth, though with aircraft prices doing what they have recently the calculus on that might have changed some. That said, if you keep a Mooney under control no matter what you hit (unless it's the side of a mountain) odds are you'll walk away. Mooneys aren't immortal, but they are stout things.
     
  25. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Only if there’s no fire.
     
  26. Twin_Flyer

    Twin_Flyer Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yeah, sent my turbo out in Oct. and got it back two days after Christmas… :mad2:
     
  27. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    One that’s dependent on other countries for our manufacturing.
     
  28. Bell206

    Bell206 Final Approach

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    As I've mentioned in the past, the best person to perform your prebuy is the mechanic who will maintain the aircraft after your purchase even if its your first aircraft. A&Ps with with inspection authoriztion are are listed on a FAA database. Before you look get the list and start calling. Or visit your local airports. Think of it as a job interview. When you get that warm fuzzy strike a deal with them and move forward. But as mentioned above its becoming increasing more difficult to find takers as the APIA labor pool shrinks ever year.
     
  29. Flyhound

    Flyhound Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, there are headaches with airplane ownership, but the severity of those headaches varies considerably with where you live. Before retiring from the DC area of northern Virginia and moving to Washington State, I had to drive 90 minutes to the closest available hangar in West Virginia to fly my plane. When looking at viable retirement locations, a big part of my search revolved around making my flying more convenient and more enjoyable (no SFRA any more for me). I found a building lot with a water view 4 minutes from an airport with 2 shops that are both accommodating about servicing my Maule, and I have a Maule specialist that does my annuals and major work just 30 minutes by air from where I live. He's also flexible on scheduling for me. The kind of flying I enjoy most these days is backcountry camping with my plane and using my plane to launch epic bicycle rides. Both activities have boundless options in the Pacific Northwest. I fly 130+ hours a year and I'm enjoying it immensely. Aviation isn't dead, in fact there are lots of primary students at my home airport and hangar demand is at an all time high. Like many things in life, aviation bliss is highly location dependent. I'm sorry you live in such a dream stifling location.
    [​IMG]
     
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  30. red4golf

    red4golf Line Up and Wait

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    STOP SHOWING HOW AWESOME WASHINGTON CAN BE!!!!


    What you aren't showing is the 23 hours of thunder and lightning with the heavy hail storms that made you hide in the tsunami shelters....
     
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  31. O2 Birddog

    O2 Birddog Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A country entirely too dependent on manufacturing in other nations to feed our supply chain. Even with products, "Manufactured in the USA", in most cases they are actually just assembled here from foreign made parts.

    If Covid should have taught us anything it is that being so dependent on nations like China for manufactured goods puts us in a completely untenable position with respect to both economic and national security.
     
  32. Roy B.

    Roy B. Filing Flight Plan

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    What Steve Shore said . . . if you are not willing to learn your airplane (and learn which end of the soldering iron you should hold) aircraft ownership might not be for you. We are flying 30-60 year old (sometimes older) airframes with $100K glass panels and its not realistic to think we are going to find skilled mechanics competent to do everything on our plane, just sitting around with nothing to do except wait for us to show up with a problem. If a shop is good they will have a backlog - and maybe a wait-list. Stop whining, take some courses, read the installation manuals, join EAA, learn how it works, and become an educated owner. The more that you learn about the machine you fly the easier it is to partner with a shop when you need one. And, when a shop has confidence in you and your judgment they are much more likely to sign off your work or sequence in your plane. I fly with guys who are afraid to put air in the tires . . . really. And the A&Ps gripe about those people just as much as some owners gripe about the mechanics.
    Roy
     
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  33. Jayboard

    Jayboard Filing Flight Plan

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    But it’s NOT a free market…our government has its hand on the scales…in other words, gov is influencing the market and you as an individual will find it impossible to pay the price when you are competing with said entity possessing a money printing press…
     
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  34. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Final Approach

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    So you're saying all the employees that would work for you are working for the government because they can print money? No. Government employees are paid fairly poorly, so I'm not sure what your statement has to do with anything regarding the job market.

    Complete non sequitur babble.
     
  35. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    They may not get paid like the private sector, but their benefits and job security is second to none.
     
  36. Jayboard

    Jayboard Filing Flight Plan

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    This has nothing to do with government workers. These are people receiving entitlement money. As a result they don’t have to work. This money is from the government. It is not tied to any output in production. Thus it is inflationary. Don’t know who Milton Friedman is do you?
     
  37. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Final Approach

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    Okay so that makes the supply low *allegedly* . Still supply and demand, and still not paying enough for the market.
     
  38. O2 Birddog

    O2 Birddog Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It should be noted that the author of the piece is living in S. California, among the highest cost of living areas in the US. On top of that So Cal has among the highest rates of airplane ownership and certified GAA Pilots putting a serious strain on the available AP's and shops.

    Our schools need to quit beating every kid through the head that they need to go to college to "succeed" and get serious about reinstituting technical and trade programs for the over half of kids who will not succeed in college even if they go and they will leave with a massive amount of debt that will take two decades or more to pay off if they don't default.

    Without skilled technicians and tradesman this country simply cannot function and those fields pay very well these days with great benefits as well.

    Not everyone is suited to Academia.

    A certified A&P today can start off making upwards or 20.00/hr fresh out of school after just 20-24 months and if they stick can soon raise that starting pay by half or more.

    If you want to look at "sustainable living" that is viable, we need to stop being a society where virtually everything is disposable.

    Properly maintained a well built aircraft can have a service live of 60-100 years or even more in some cases so there's no end to opportunities for A&P's.
     
  39. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    It has been my experience that tradesmen and other verbs in our society tend to be a bit right-wing. If you view the education system as seeking to produce the opposite of that, well.. then our current wackadoodle priorities in education make sense.
     
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  40. O2 Birddog

    O2 Birddog Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Since the 70's we've been telling kids that if you don't go to college you are a failure and that blue collar folks are something of a lesser breed.

    In the years that have followed our industries have largely died off while the cost of a college education has increased by over 6x the rate of inflation.

    Today anything less than a Master's is pretty meaningless and actual work experience is more likely to get you an entry level job with decent starting pay and benefits than a BA or BS.

    I'm not trying to make this a matter of partisan politics it's just one example of where the country has gone terribly wrong where today you basically have two choices, starting out for little or nothing in the white collar world, or starting at minimum wage in the service industries.

    We owe our kids and grandkids better.