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

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

  1. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Still ROFL about the concept of low maintenance cost and Cirrus in the same sentence.
    c'mon man.jpg
     
  2. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    Haven’t read all the replies, but who says PA 28 is short range? 6.5 gal and hour, 90 kts, 6.3 hrs flight time at 55% power = 540 NM with 1 hr reserve. Don’t know about you, but I have pee like twice before fuel runs out.
     
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  3. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, but you haven’t made it out of the county yet. ;)
     
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  4. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    Lol
     
  5. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    I did that mission on a PA-28-161. 110-115KTAS at 8gph, on a super tired runout 2000SMOH O-320 but with the post-'78 wheel pants (good for 7 knots over no pants). 5:45 endurance with initial climb baked into the first hour of the sortie. You can't find those airplanes at what I paid for it back in 2011 though, so it's a non-starter. I had much less money in the bank back then, which steered my choices.

    If I was looking at this mission again, provided no intention of needing the back seats in the near future, I would have gone straight to EAB land. Lancair 320 if you can fit, Glasair I FG if you can fit, or RV-6a. I wouldn't bother with certified for this one.

    All in all, this mission can be accomplished by damn near anything in your price point, some slower, some faster. Options are wide open as long as your mission is 2 or solo.
     
  6. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    ?? Haven't even seen any comments on Mooney before you post.
     
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  7. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    The only folks who don't like Mooneys have never flown them. There simply is no greater bang for your buck in all of GA than a short body Mooney. They are undervalued in the market. Manual gear and flaps make them less maintenance intensive than any other complex aircraft. They feature bulletproof Lycoming four cylinder engines, and get more out of them than any other aircraft. They are rock stable in cruise, and among the best IFR platforms. They aren't so good for those who are wide in the beam, but few aircraft really are.
     
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  8. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I don't have to fly them to know I hate to work on them.
    most A&Ps charge more to work on them. and it always take more time.
     
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  9. NordicDave

    NordicDave Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Every A&P I've met either refuses to work on Mooneys or charges extra. It's cramped to fly in one and much more difficult to repair due to tight space, especially turbo models.

    It's an awesome plane for some people and that's good.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  10. Gmonnig

    Gmonnig Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Eh, I disagree. If you are not behind on the maintenance, I’ve found the Comanche is the most reliable plane I’ve ever flown. Although it is a complex plane, my partner in the plane and I have had 100% dispatch reliability over the last 4yrs of owning it and it’s a 9000hr airframe. Before the Comanche I’ve had a nose gear failure on a 172RG resulting in a gear up, two intermittent gear motor failures on a T-tail PA32 that were never duplicated on ground tests, had a carb heat cable pull straight out of a 172M, and the list goes on. Definitely depends on how the plane is maintained.
     
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  11. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've flown them, all different varieties. Nothing special in my book. And a PITA to work on.
     
  12. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I flew a PA-28-181 ArcherII for several years on lots of cross country trips. You can plan on ~120kts maybe a tad less, 10gph fuel burn. With the 48 gallons of usable fuel that gives you 4.8hrs and close to 450nm with a 1hr reserve. We planned our flights with 3 hours legs, only going over if doing it all in one go would be 3:15 or something like that. You really don't want to spend much over 3hrs in these little planes without a bathroom stop and rest break.

    I live just north of St Louis, we went to a bunch of places in FL and along the gulf coast. Also did Myrtle Beach and one year we went all the way to Santa Barbara, CA via Roswell, NM. I upgraded to a Piper Lance when our family grew and I needed the space.

    What I always tell people about the Archers is they're not the fastest planes or the cheapest but if you balance costs, useful load, and speed they're hard to beat value wise.
     
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  13. NoHeat

    NoHeat En-Route

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    I’m guessing you also have electric lights and pitot heat. And maybe a cigar lighter?
     
  14. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    USB charger wont work either. But somehow the plane still flies.
     
  15. Mike Blackburn

    Mike Blackburn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’m interested that folks recommend a Lancair to a relatively inexperienced pilot. In my mind they can be quite a handful? Or am I spending too much time reading old wives tales on the internet?

    I’d recommend a Sling 4 but I suspect out of price range and possibly a bit on the slow side.

    can’t really go wrong with a nicely built RV-6 or 7. (Or a Thorp as someone mentioned)
     
  16. Gmonnig

    Gmonnig Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree. I think the M20C is a great airplane and a close second to “the plane I own”. For the same price as a M20C you can get a 250 Comanche. The sweet spot is the 1960 with manual flaps. They were designed by Al Mooney working for Piper, the NACA airfoil is nearly identical (so the wing is the same), bulletproof O-540, still has the Johnson Bar for backup gear extension, a few inches wider but a little less legroom in the front seats, the Comanche has 200+lbs greater useful load, can be slowed to 140kts for the same fuel burn as the M20C, climbs at 1200ft/min, and can be sped up to 155-160kts burning 12.5gph above 8000ft. Another undervalued plane is the Viking, but people are afraid of wood.
     
  17. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    That can't be right. you must gauges to watch knobs to twist :)
     
  18. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    the Glasair I linked would be perfect, 0-320- 150 horse, fixed gear, and EXP to maintain.
    160 knots, 8 GPH, it doesn't get better than this.
     
  19. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Yeah, I had a mechanic who hated them too. You know why? He didn’t know how. For example, when removing the engine on a Mooney, you remove the frame from firewall first, then the engine from the frame. I saw the result of this mechanics work, it wasn’t pretty. Another mechanic who owns a Mooney laughed when I asked him if they were hard to work on and said “Not if you know what you’re doing”.
     
  20. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    I can assure you I know what I am doing.

    Nice try though. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
  21. RangeRider

    RangeRider Pre-Flight

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    C175. Great bang for the buck. The GO300 is somewhat an orphan, but is reliable if flown correctly. Some can be found with a Lycoming conversions, 52 gallons of fuel, and I flight plan for 122 knots. Insurance and maintenance are about as low as it gets.
     
  22. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    Do we know the OP's experience level?
    Yes, they are a big step up from the typical trainer but it is doable. I stepped into mine with 100 hours total time. Of course I received 10 hours of excellent transition training from an appropriate Lancair instructor.
     
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  23. Johnbo

    Johnbo Pre-Flight

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    If you don’t need 4-seats there is nothing to talk about other than which RV you are going to buy. Cheap annuals even if you don’t do any of the work yourself, cheap parts, cheap avionics, 175-200mph cruise depending on power plant at 8-9.5 gph. Yea, there is a ton of experimental crap but I see no fewer certified pieces of junk either. Get one from a passionate owner, with documented maintenance and a solid prebuy.
     
  24. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    And if you're the size of a Hobbit. I don't like to fly with my knees in my chest (multiple 6's).
     
  25. MacFly

    MacFly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’ve never owned a Mooney and have very little time flying them. My aversion to them has nothing to do with maintenance or reliability, or the fact that they seem to be perpetually on the verge of folding up shop....it’s the cockpit, as I was reminded while flying right seat with a buddy last weekend in his M20M-TLS. I’m not a particularly big guy, but we were hard shoulder-to-shoulder the entire flight and it was cramped, especially in comparison to an RV-7 or 9. I respect Mooneys and have no doubt that they’re a competent airplane, but I could never own one.
     
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  26. MacFly

    MacFly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’ve been talking to RV owners a lot lately...your experience seems to be unique, although admittedly I don’t know much about the RV-6...I’m not interested in that plane for cross-country. Otherwise, as above...the RV’S I’ve sat in have a huge cockpit compared to any Mooney I’ve ever flown in.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2020
  27. Johnbo

    Johnbo Pre-Flight

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    You may have been in one deliberately built or modified for a Hobbit. Tons of 6’+, non-super model body type folks own and fly them comfortably.
     
  28. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'm 6' 1" but very thin. I don't know how I could get my knees to my chest once I strap on my airplane.
     
  29. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    From what I've seen, RVs have incredible step by step documentation and are created to be easy to assemble with lots of (at least partially) prefabricated parts. Something like a T-18 (and I have some experience in this area) is built from just the blueprints (no "builders manual") and you have to fabricate everything from flat stock that you source yourself. You have to figure out which parts to make first. You need to sort out how to assemble it. You have to figure out which size rivet goes in which hole... That takes a lot more work, a lot more head scratching... So it's easy to see why an "insert tab A into slot B" RV would be so much more popular. However, once it is in the air, all of those advantages are behind you.
     
  30. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Considering every aircraft has its tricks, "knowing" an aircraft is a non-issue and I would expect a "mooney" mechanic to know those tricks. Having worked on 3 different mooneys in the past, technically they're no different than any other single recip. In my experience, physically working on them is a pain. Then again I think any low-wing aircraft is a pain from a maintenance access standpoint. Mooneys are just more of a pain which is why I don't care to work on them. Nothing more.
     
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  31. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    What's interesting is I've heard the "he doesn't know how to work on _________" applied to sports cars, boats, airplanes, motorcycles, etc. It's a convenient excuse for someone to defend the inadequacies of their pet hobby. ;)
     
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  32. edo2000

    edo2000 Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    For the OP's mission, based in the midwest, I agree that an older Grumman Tiger would probably work well. Low maintenance, reasonable economy and speed. I bought a '77 with mid-time engine and original (faded) paint 5 yrs ago for $30k. Sold it for $32k 2 yrs later. Not sure what the current Tiger market looks like.

    An RV would be a great choice also. I now have a 160hp, fixed pitch, RV-9a. Home base is at 7,500 msl in the Rockies. In a valley with 14,000ft peaks all around. I am amazed by the altitude performance of the RV. I traded the Tiger for this one because I felt it lacked performance needed for my area, even with the Grumman's 180hp. On my RV, I typically see 150-155 kt cruise speeds around 8.5 gph.

    I envy @MacFly with his RV9's constant speed prop; I think that would be an excellent upgrade for this plane- easier speed/glidepath control in the pattern, much shorter takeoffs, and quicker climbs.

    I've owned mine for 3 years, did not build it. The builder did a beautiful job. Pros: excellent speed, miserly fuel burn, high altitude performance, lovely light controls, VERY low maintenance/operating/insurance costs. Cons: useful load is not huge (500+ lbs), could use slightly larger fuel tanks (has 36 gal), have to step over the canopy lip/stand on seat/then slide in place, to board (not unlike a Grumman), it flies like the light airframe it is(as someone mentioned above), which you notice a bit in turbulence and gusty conditions, but it is supremely controllable.

    However... might be slightly above the OP's price target. Nice, fixed prop, RV9/9a's with basic VFR panels like mine will probably sell in the $65k-75k+ range now. RV6/6a's would be a great choice also, and some of those can be found a lower prices.
     
  33. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    Cherokee 180
     
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  34. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Maybe the ones I've been in had an extended lower panel (same with the 9) but my knees were hitting the bottom of the instrument panel. But it was the most uncomfortable plane I've ever been in. I shouldn't have scrape marks on my knees from using the rudder pedals.
     
  35. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    Pretty much any light single will be reasonably practical for 300-400 nm, as long as you are OK with 3 hour (or so) legs. Still beats driving. If you want even minimum dispatch reliability, IFR equipage and an IFR rating is a must. Even with IFR equipage and currency, weather will be an issue for safely completing flights. A Grumman Traveler, Cheetah, or Tiger would be reasonable machines for one-leg trips of this length. (They will get you between 115-135 kt cruise depending on the model.) Flying this kind of plane to Florida and back (900+ nm) is doable, but is more in the adventure than routine trip category in this kind of plane. Acquiring a well-equipped IFR C172, AA-5B, or similar with good engine life left could be challenging for $50-60K.

    So, having said all that, I did two stints at the NIH (DC area) and used my AA-5 to commute back and forth from central NY many weekends. The 2+30 flight was way better than the 6-7 hour drive any day. But there are weather and seasons that make regular commuting impractical. I almost always filed IFR for the commute, but there were some nice VFR CAVU days. And November - April can be difficult with widespread icing conditions in the NE corridor. That's the reality of light single travel. It's not like the airlines.
     
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  36. Rcmutz

    Rcmutz Line Up and Wait

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    Undervalued because the market has spoken. On the opposite side, see the pricing on C182’s these days.
     
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  37. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The market is usually pretty smart.
     
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  38. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I first started flying I was in love with Mooneys. I just knew that was the perfect plane for me! Finally found someone who had one and he was nice enough to take me up in it. I’m not a huge guy I’m 5’11 220. The owner was probably 5’8 and around 170 I would guess. We were definitely squeezed in there! I still love the look of a Mooney but I’m far more comfortable in my 182.
     
  39. ETres

    ETres Line Up and Wait

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    Flight Design CTLS. It's an LSA with two seats, BRS, 110-115-knot cruise speed, cruise fuel burn 4-5 gallon per hour, range in excess of 600 miles, ultra-reliable 100HP Rotax 912 which burns either 91-octane E10 auto gas or 100LL avgas, has a wide comfy cabin, and will carry 110 lbs of baggage in the baggage compartment.
     
  40. Todd82

    Todd82 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    How does the plane know where to fly without a magenta line?
     
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