New guy here planning the purchase of my first airplane

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Lucky Lou, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. Lucky Lou

    Lucky Lou Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello everyone, glad to find this site to learn about airplane ownership. I have been reading lots of postings about the decision process on buying a plane and I'm hoping to learn a lot more about which plane is best for our family.

    I have been thinking about buying my first flying contraption for a long time and always found an excuse why I should give up the search. I have entertained all types of flying and really thought I would end up building a quicksilver or aircam in my retirement. Last month my wife said she would love it if I stopped talking about it and buy us a plane the family could use for travel.

    I am a 50 year old airline pilot that hasn't flown GA in 20 years... yes, I want an autopilot. My wife has gone up with me in friend's planes and also a trike when I was considering buying a trike. She likes flying and even wants to take some lessons so she can be supportive on our trips.

    I have a lot of time to improve my GA flying knowledge and do my due diligence in finding the right plane. I'd prefer to take the extra time and get it right the first time. Ideally I'd like to be up and flying by summer 2021 so 9-10 months is the goal.

    We are a mostly short family with nobody over 5'9" (average 5'4"). Average weight of 130 pounds & a 65 pound dog puts the family at 850 pounds before any luggage or gear. Of course we could have some taller guests but just wanted to share the needs.

    The mission would have us using the plane instead of the SUV for our longer trips in the Southeast. Typical destinations we drive to are 300-500 miles with 3-5 people average. Dog on the longer trips. Hopefully we would also add in a nice 1400 mile trip up to Maine in the summer and who knows as the kids go off on their own lol.

    I'm leaning towards a singe engine, non-turbo, 6 seat, retractable airplane. I prefer the visibility in the singles and intend to use the plane as a mainly dav vmc traveller. My friend's love their cherokees so I thought a Saratoga was the plane for us but after reading here I think I need to think hard about the Bonanza. I am looking mainly at 1980s Bonanzas & Saratogas.

    Please let me know what you think of these 2 planes appropriateness for my family and any recommendations you have. Thanks!
     
  2. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    Welcome aboard Lou ... I don't fly either aircraft, but there will be plenty of knowledgeable guys who do shortly (and some not so knowledgeable) ;)
     
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  3. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    Can't go wrong with a PA32 or an A36. It really boils down to personal preference. Both are in roughly the same price range. The Bonanza handles better (IMHO) and I think is probably a little better built. But the PA32 is unquestionably roomier and, at least on the earlier models, has a better useful load (plus nose baggage). You ought to start by flying both. I'm fond of the PA32, but it does fly like a dump truck.
     
  4. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    You mission has Bonanza written all over it.
     
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  5. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    If the 1400 mile trip was excluded wouldn't a 6/300 be quite a bit cheaper, a bit more roomy and avoids retract. Not saying retracts are bad, just removes a variable in exchange for speed/fuel.
     
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  6. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Nobody sane is doing 1400 miles in a single piston without stopping anyway.
     
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  7. Lucky Lou

    Lucky Lou Filing Flight Plan

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    I did consider the Cherokee 6 but on the longer trips the speed difference seemed more than my wife would like with the limiting factor most likely being her bladder which has a max range of 3 hours... maybe 3 1/2 in a pinch. This summer we did a 9 hour drive with just 2 stops which was a record. If it is just us and the dog I could bring a potty but with others she would just have me stop which is totally fine. I don't mind going slow... she is the one with the lead foot lol. The 500 mile destination would likely be the one I would love to do in one leg if able... it is more closely 460 miles but you get the idea.

    I really do like the cost savings on the 6 though so ya never know.
     
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  8. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    I’ve got a short body Mooney That goes pretty quick and I still want more speed. I think it will be true no matter what you get. Calculate how much time you’d really save on Your trips. Might not be enough to be worth worrying about.
     
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  9. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I like the six/300 for your mission.
     
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  10. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    A36, PA32 or later C210.
     
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  11. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    This is the easiest “what plane should I buy” thread of all time.

    The answer starts with Bo and ends with za.

    All other answers are incorrect. It is like the GUMPS check for selecting an aircraft -

    G et a Bonanza
    U ltimately you will get a Bonanza anyway
    M ight as well just get a Bo
    P ull the trigger on that A36
    S ave your time and buy that Bo
     
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  12. foxpapa

    foxpapa Filing Flight Plan

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    So many good ideas. I have flown the 210 and it is a capable plane but not the one I want so it is off the list. If I end up with a single 6 seater I'm leaning hard on the Bonanza. I think I would love the Bonanza... who doesn't?

    Opening up the whole topic of which plane with friends brings up the question of "if you removed the 1 or 2 missions a year requiring a 6 seater..." makes me think I could have a lot of fun with a Mooney or a Bonanza 35. Then the wife hears "but why not have 2 engines" ugh but then I don't have a nice view.

    I thought this would be a simple decision.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
  13. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Twin Bonanza?
     
  14. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    Cessna 337
    [​IMG]

    Partenavia P.68 Observer
    [​IMG]

    Aero Commander 500
    [​IMG]

    Piper Aerostar
    [​IMG]

    Mitsubishi MU2
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2020
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  15. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    For some reason, the 337 always reminds me of an OV-10. Which I think is one of the coolest looking aircraft.
     
  16. JEB

    JEB Pre-Flight

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    If you were on the West coast, I'd offer to take you up in my Bonanza A36. I think you'll find that the perfect choice would be an early A36 with a modern panel, IO-550 and air conditioning. Plenty of useful load, a little bit narrower than a PA32, but significantly faster and definitely a nicer handling airplane. Certified in the utility category vs normal category for the other airplane choices. We can easily fly with 4-5 people and a Golden Retriever + luggage and full tanks. If you join Beechtalk (free membership), you can probably find an A36 owner in your area who is willing to show off their pride and joy.

    Edit/update -
    On the question of Bonanza 35 vs 36... The maintenance cost is going to be the same. given your weight requirements, family count and the dog, I don't think you want to lean towards a 35 - they are maybe a little more responsive handling and fun to fly, but they bring challenges with how your weight and balance envelope shifts rearward as fuel burns off and they don't have the big double doors in the back for loading that you get with a 36. The decision to choose 35 or 36 usually comes down to what you want to spend on acquisition. Once you're airborne, fuel burn and maintenance are the same.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2020
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  17. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I think you nailed the best options. I own a PA-32R-300 Lance. Big cabin, great useful load, around 150kts true with 15-16gph fuel burn rate. Comfortable and roomy. There are a few other Lance owners here who can talk about them.

    I don't know the A36 Bonanza as well but from what I know they're faster and are more sporty to fly, but with slightly less cabin space and useful load. The big thing for me is a Lance can be had for a LOT less $ than a comparable A36.
     
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  18. Lucky Lou

    Lucky Lou Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the offer Jeb! I appreciate the 35 & 36 comparison too. That makes a lot of sense and the info I'm looking for. I'm going to keep soaking up the info I learn over the next couple months to find the best fit plane. I presume there are several good candidates.