Relatively low-maintenance airplanes that have decent cross-country performance?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by mozillameister, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. mozillameister

    mozillameister Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello, I'm moving to a very remote part of the country next year for a new job/promotion. I've been into GA since college but had to settle for occasional rentals. With this new job comes a fat relocation bonus. I'm a very cheap mover (moved myself several times already for <$1000) so most of this bonus will be pocketed (plus a signing bonus as well). Total will be around $50k and will use another $10k of savings.

    Since this job is fairly remote (nearest city >100mi), limited flights in/out, and in the Midwest plane ownership seems to make a lot of sense to get out on weekends and travel to see family while feeding the GA dream I've had for awhile. Low COL means I'll have a significant amount of funds to allocate for maintenance while still adding savings (about $12k/yr).

    Plane would ideally have 2 missions:

    1) Travel to cities approx. 300-400nmi apart once per week
    2) 2-3 long yearly cross-country trips to Florida with minimized stops (no more than 3)

    Narrowed my search down to several planes based on my budget:
    172 - Slower than I'd like but achievable given budget and the most familiar with
    PA-28 - Seems the most practical option that's FAA certified though it's range is short
    Bonanza - May have higher maintenance costs than I like (or afford)
    Mooney - On paper the best but I've heard some posters say it's not the most reliable
    Vans RV-12 - Not certified but seems to meet all the rest (and usually newer)

    Also;
    SR20 - Would require financing but sounds like it has lower maintenance needs from some threads online (so lower costs in the long run)

    Maybe there's others I haven't considered.

    Which of these (or any other) options would be the best fit given budget and mission? Thanks!
     
  2. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    Midwest + 300-400 nm weekly sounds like weather will likely prohibit many planned flights.
    RV-12 is too slow. Look at the RV-6,7,9 (+-a) models.
     
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  3. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don En-Route

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    Might want to consider a 182 if you want a little more speed over the 172
     
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  4. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Line Up and Wait

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    Grumman Tiger.... 900 lbs useful, 135 Kts True, 10 gph, fixed gear, fixed pitch prop. $900-1000 fixed annual costs, 700-1000 insurance based on pilot time, etc.
     
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  5. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If 2 seats would work a nice Vans RV6 is the perfect choice. Low cost, fun to fly, fast and cheap to maintain.
     
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  6. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Too broad a question. Define in your words what you mean by "relatively low-maintenance" and "very remote part of the country" as any valid input would be very subjective to your definitions. The cross-country side would then be secondary.
     
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  7. MacFly

    MacFly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It appears that an RV-9/9A would be a very good cross-country machine. I'll find out this weekend when I ferry home the one I am buying. I see them between between $70,000 and $120,000 with a wide range of avionics being a significant price determiner. With a 160 HP Lycoming IO-320, published 75% cruise is 169 knots at 10 GPH and a ceiling of 19,000 ft. As is true of Experimentals in general, maintenance is cheaper according to the previous owner and according to my mechanic. Plus...I read it on the internet. I know, I know...after decades in General Aviation, I never considered a non-certificated airplane either. Further examination has now persuaded me otherwise. Worth considering, IMHO.
     
  8. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Did the posters who said Mooney is not reliable ever owned one?


    Tom
     
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  9. CRQFlier

    CRQFlier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You've got 60k to spend on acquisition? Including tax, ppi, plus the inevitable unknown immediate expenses that means ~50k purchase price. You're probably looking 1970 or older for pretty much everything on your list. As someone else mentioned, find an aa5x (traveler, cheetah, tiger). It'll be a tough search but worth it.

    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
     
  10. Computerjim

    Computerjim Pre-Flight

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    Check out a Comanche.
     
  11. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    Comanches are great, but I would not buy a 50-60 year old complex single and expect it to meet the OP's maintenance and reliability goals.
     
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  12. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    https://www.barnstormers.com/listing_images.php?id=1509076

    Or
    PIPER PACER 20.1950.150 HP
     
  13. Llk

    Llk Pre-Flight

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    My 172 is super reliable. At 300-400 miles, you are pushing the range. A 182 is suitable...but...

    Mooneys are súper reliable too. Stay normally aspirated. Johnson bars are simple as could be; J models are great but you’re going up in complexity.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  14. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Mooney M20C with Johnson bar gear in good shape has been very low maintenance for me. I think it would be ideal for this scenario.

    No turbo, no fuel injection. No electric for anything but avionics. Annuals are easy.
     
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  15. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    Congratulations on the 9a. We owned one for a few years too. Ours had a fresh 150hp o-320, sensenich metal prop and we routinely saw 148 kts full throttle cruise. It was fabulously cheap to maintain as it was a very simple design - manual roll trim, fixed gear, fixed prop, no certified parts, parts support akin to a late model Chevy... You will find it is ridiculously easy to fly with the exception of gusty wind conditions as it was somewhat like a kite in the breeze. It is a very safe aircraft with 38 kt stall speed if I recall. Make sure you secure the elevator and rudder before getting out as a light breeze will damage them quickly otherwise; we used a bungee for the stick and a homemade pickelfork wedged from the spar into the rudder pedals.
     
  16. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Cherokee 180 is solidly in your price range. So is an RV-6A.

    That's where I'd concentrate. I learned from my recent search that it's not good when your budget only scrapes the low end of a model range. You wind up looking at sketchy airplanes and trying to rationalize faults. And you got no financial cushion for surprises or initial upgrades.

    You did not mention useful load as a mission criteria. If it's just you, or you plus one, do not spend extra $$ on a 6 cylinder bird like a C182 just to get more speed. Concentrate on 4 bangers.

    Cessna 172 would be perfect, except that it's perfect for everyone else in the world, and is priced accordingly.
     
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  17. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-Flight

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    It’s hard to beat a 182. It’s been around forever and still in production. That saying a lot. Its not the best at anything but it’s very good at most anything. Every A&P knows how to work on it and most parts are easy access. There’s a ton of STCs available to improve its performance anyway you want. It’s really A customizable aircraft
     
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  18. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    TRUE ?
     
  19. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If cost is an issue, look at T-18s, Wittman Tailwinds, etc. You pay a premium for the RV "brand".
     
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  20. MacFly

    MacFly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the input. It's hard to get a handle on real-world performance -- owner reports are widely variable. This plane is IFR-equipped, CS prop. The POH is pretty boilerplate but I haven't seen this plane's book in its entirely, so I'm not sure what the actual performance is. The 4-hour flight home should be interesting. Good tip on the gust locks. I've seen a number of cheap options around the internet.
     
  21. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You pay a premium for anything that works well enough that a lot of them are built and sold.

    Pretty hard to beat the value proposition of a Mooney though, unless there's something about it that doesn't meet your mission.
     
  22. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    Is IFR capability required by the OP?
     
  23. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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  24. Todd82

    Todd82 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    With the mandatory Chute overhauls you almost need a second reserve account as you would for a second engine. A little cheaper than an engine but a significant outlay.
     
  25. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-Flight

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    I ALWAYS WANTED ONE. lol. Until I got in one. I just don’t have the “right “ body type to squeeze in to it. I felt like I was wearing it!
     
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  26. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    Ever try to re-seal a wing..
     
  27. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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  28. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not gonna get anywhere near a C182 for his budget.
     
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  29. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-Flight

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    That’s true but he had mentioned financing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  30. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I get blazing cross country speed ... compared to a Piper Cub!
     
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  31. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    2 seat Lancairs like mine can be found within budget and will do 180 kts+ economically, easily capable of the 300-400 nm trips non-stop.
     
  32. MacFly

    MacFly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What's his budget? He mentioned an SR-20 as a possibility.

    The plane I ended up buying bears little or no resemblance to the planes and budget that I started the search with. Definite mission creep.
     
  33. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    will you most always be solo or +1, max?
     
  34. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I wouldn't think a Mooney would be considered easy to maintain, constant speed prop, complex retractable.
     
  35. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    As long as you don’t get the hub with 100 hour AD, a gear swing and rigging check on a manual gear Mooney is a 10 minute deal and really nothing much can go bad with them. Not much to do with a constant speed prop either, generally speaking. Not enough to consider it “hard” to maintain. But, do make sure it has the “B” hub that doesn’t require the 100 hour AD.
     
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  36. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    unless you try to remove something, like a Mag.
     
  37. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I really don't see the OP doing any maintenance.
     
  38. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I would. I've had 2 trips in 11 years scrapped due to mx issues and neither were Comanche specific. (Ruptured oil cooler due to improper remote oil filter install, and carb heat box rebuild issue)
     
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  39. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The RV6 can be had in his price point. There is however a reason for RV pricing. They are all simply amazing aircraft.
     
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  40. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Arion LS-1 Lightning.