Rental Pilot vs. Ownership

Rgbeard

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rgbeard
I decided to sit down and create a chart of my flight time.

I created this because, although I know aircraft ownership is a big step in financial commitment, it certainly changes how much you fly. I thought showing it in a chart would be something helpful for some. If you are finding yourself "on the fence" of a rental vs. ownership decision, I simply ask you to take a look at my chart.

From 19xx-1995 I flew a lot with my dad in his Cessna 120, Cherokee 140, and later, his 1979 Turbo Lance. But he took the PIC time, and I simply gained tons of non-logged experience. I'm glad I had this time, as it carried me through the "dark years" where I flew ZERO hours. Each year has a particular reason for being zero. (2003, 2009, 2010)

In 1984 I had my first lesson, but began my PPL in earnest in December 1989.

In August of 2016 I began my Instrument rating, but had to take several months off for a medical issue, and finished it in March of 2017.

In September, 2018, we bought our own 1978 Turbo Lance, and it's been a transformation to be an aircraft owner vs. a rental pilot.

My summary opinion: As a rental pilot, you generally won't fly much. As an aircraft owner, you'll fly more than you would imagine.Screen Shot 2022-02-20 at 11.06.37 AM.png
 
Statistically owners fly about 60 hours a year. Sure, there are some that fly a lot more and equally there are owners who don’t fly at all.

While rental rates may seem quite expensive, the renter is not responsible for unexpected engine maintenance risk. While many owners use engine TBO to calculate cost, an engine operating <6 hours a month has a high probability of not making TBO.

Personally I believe 120 hours a year is the point owning an airplane starts to become economically logical. That’s 2.5 hours a week and a lot of flying.

Of course rental aircraft availability is in the mix and why we need more partnerships and non profit flying clubs.
 
If you bought 3-4 years ago, rode the increasing airplane values into the stratosphere and watched the associated increase in rental rates then you'd be sitting quite pretty right about now.
 
Statistically owners fly about 60 hours a year. Sure, there are some that fly a lot more and equally there are owners who don’t fly at all.

While rental rates may seem quite expensive, the renter is not responsible for unexpected engine maintenance risk. While many owners use engine TBO to calculate cost, an engine operating <6 hours a month has a high probability of not making TBO.

Personally I believe 120 hours a year is the point owning an airplane starts to become economically logical. That’s 2.5 hours a week and a lot of flying.

Of course rental aircraft availability is in the mix and why we need more partnerships and non profit flying clubs.

I'm surprised there are not more partnerships/co-ownerships. Lots of fixed costs with flying. Even having one partner cuts capital and fixed costs in half. That's a big difference in annual flying costs.

Flying trips can eat up 2.5 hour/week pretty quickly. Flying for an hour on nice Saturdays, not so much. We visited my wife's sister and BIL a couple of weeks ago near St Pete, then hopped over to the Atlantic side "on the way home" to have lunch and visit with friends. That was 7 hours of flying for a four-day weekend. We'll probably fly 8+ hours visiting our youngest daughter next month. Toss in some Angel Flight missions, 5 hours last Sunday, and the hours add up quickly.

I think it's sad when I read stories about annuals on planes that had just enough hours to taxi back-and-forth since the last annual; although that's the extreme. Just hearing about an annual with 20 - 30 hours since the last annual is bad enough. :oops: Sometimes life happens. Something breaks, parts issues, mechanics availability, work and family constraints.
 
Ownership is expensive, but I can walk 40 feet to my plane, which is clean and dry in a humidity-controlled hangar, isn’t low on oil, doesn’t have flatspotted or low tires, doesn’t have trash in the cockpit, and I never have to cancel a flight because someone is late bringing it back.

I’ve never walked in after an annual to find that my partners who did the owner-assist left more than a dozen screws on inspection panels not even finger tight and three panels uninstalled, and a root fairing installed backward with Home Depot screws.

Oh, and there is no one hour/two hours on weekends minimum BS, no need to call in advance and have someone leave the keys out for an evening flight, and no wondering if the previous pilot flew it like he stole it. I don’t need to have flights approved by someone with little or no experience, and the panel and other equipment is 100% my choice.
 
I'm surprised there are not more partnerships/co-ownerships.
I think part of the challenge is matching missions too. I’d be surprised if I could find 2 others, near me, that would match my mission well enough to establish a partnership [so I can get what I want].

Partnership can be a great way to access aircraft ownership or a freaking nightmare. So far my partnership has been the former.
I absolutely would want to vet anyone I’d be co-owners with. Maybe even propose joint annual training (or something).
 
If you bought 3-4 years ago, rode the increasing airplane values into the stratosphere and watched the associated increase in rental rates then you'd be sitting quite pretty right about now.

That’s me. Feeling very fortunate. If I didn’t love my plane so much (faster than the speed of light, 1/4gph fuel burn, sexy AF) I’d be selling right now to cover 4+ years of flying +healthy profit. But then I’d be sans plane, a mis renter, with no possibility of buying a reasonably priced plane.
 
I'm surprised there are not more partnerships/co-ownerships.
A former boss was big on flying clubs…he told me he couldn’t understand why I would own my own airplane.

I said, “we Maule owners are just rugged individualists.”

he replied, “you just need to find a bunch of like-minded rugged individualists.”

:rolleyes:
 
My flying has definitely increased since becoming an owner. Yes, ownership is probably more expensive, but you're not flying around in a high time POS where who knows what the last pilot did...
 
A Piper mirage rental would be cool for my one off long distance fam trips. Would also simplify the logistics of breaking off-station. *chucks the keys and hops on an airline* :D
 
My flying has definitely increased since becoming an owner. Yes, ownership is probably more expensive, but you're not flying around in a high time POS where who knows what the last pilot did...
Yup. And something like this goes from being mandatory to being an option.
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We used to rent then looked into a partnership but ended up as a member of a small flying club, we think it’s a more flexible solution and faster to get out off if we decide to move on
 
Statistically owners fly about 60 hours a year. Sure, there are some that fly a lot more and equally there are owners who don’t fly at all.

While rental rates may seem quite expensive, the renter is not responsible for unexpected engine maintenance risk. While many owners use engine TBO to calculate cost, an engine operating <6 hours a month has a high probability of not making TBO.

Personally I believe 120 hours a year is the point owning an airplane starts to become economically logical. That’s 2.5 hours a week and a lot of flying.

Of course rental aircraft availability is in the mix and why we need more partnerships and non profit flying clubs.
Statistically, I have a 50/50 chance of being right that you completely made up that statistic, but I'm confident you did.
 
No doubt in my mind at all that you will fly more if you own rather than rent. I have no experience with clubs, though. That might be the best option.
 
Looks like a Bo in your avatar, so no. :)
Definitely bought a Bo. Might buy a taildragger one day, but would never sell the Bonanza. I guess that extends my poor financial decision making, LOl!
 
For once I lucked out. I purchased my 182 6 years ago with cash. At the time I debated over financing it & keep my principle invested but since it has doubled in value in that six years I don't regret my decision. I only average around 50 hours a year but I'm also a full time CFI & get more than enough flying at my job.

It's in my t-hangar when I need to go somewhere.

Ownership is definitely more expensive than renting depending again on hours flown per year. YMMV
 
That’s me. Feeling very fortunate. If I didn’t love my plane so much (faster than the speed of light, 1/4gph fuel burn, sexy AF) I’d be selling right now to cover 4+ years of flying +healthy profit. But then I’d be sans plane, a mis renter, with no possibility of buying a reasonably priced plane.

And flying ugly rental planes. :D

Yeah, I'd stick with your Mooney. :cool:
 
I think a lot of the answer depends on where and what's available. I've always been a renter or a club member. I've had my share of old decrepit beaters but for 20 years I flew out of an airport with 4 or 5 flight schools and maybe 75- 100 rentals between them. I flew simple LSAs, turbos, and high performance retracts. Makes included Cessna, Piper, Beech, Mooney. I flew a great 1957 Comanche, a Debonair with an IO550 (my all-time favorite(, as well as a A36, Cirrus SR 20 and 22, turbo Skylanes and Arrows.

I understand the attraction of ownership and have from time to time wished I had taken the step to own my own, but I've never been sorry for the experience I've had.
 
I think a lot of the answer depends on where and what's available. I've always been a renter or a club member. I've had my share of old decrepit beaters but for 20 years I flew out of an airport with 4 or 5 flight schools and maybe 75- 100 rentals between them. I flew simple LSAs, turbos, and high performance retracts. Makes included Cessna, Piper, Beech, Mooney. I flew a great 1957 Comanche, a Debonair with an IO550 (my all-time favorite(, as well as a A36, Cirrus SR 20 and 22, turbo Skylanes and Arrows.

I understand the attraction of ownership and have from time to time wished I had taken the step to own my own, but I've never been sorry for the experience I've had.
You should feel very fortunate for having such good access to aircraft that aren’t treated like garbage. I might not own either if that were available to me.
 
To my knowledge there is not a single Cessna 180/185 available in the US for solo rental. There are a few clubs around but none near me. If I want to do the type of flying I do to backcountry airstrips, landing on lakes, and leaving on a whim ownership is the only option.

A decade of renting poorly taken care of planes by bad mechanics has made me very anal about the maintenance of my plane. But I get to be as anal as I want... it's my plane.
 
Much like @Rgbeard you can tell when I bought my plane (2018). The "low" hours of 2019 and 2020 are due to extensive maintenance events, scheduled (avionics & catch-up Mx) or unscheduled (hangar collapse). 2022 will probably be a bit low due to being out of commission for 3 months for paint. I expect 2023 to be one of my best years yet.
Screenshot 2022-02-20 204157.png
 
Here is mine. I was a renter from 1992 until I bought my first plane in 2008. I then traded that plane on a new one in 2014. In 2020 I sold that plane and tried to stop flying. That didn't stick very long and a few months later I found a rental/dry-lease that actually works for my needs. Not flying quite as much as I was at my peak but I'm going faster now so every hour covers 340+ NM.

Screen Shot 2022-02-20 at 7.02.05 PM.png

...that said, I'm definitely going to be an owner again at some point in the near/medium term.
 
Here is mine. I was a renter from 1992 until I bought my first plane in 2008. I then traded that plane on a new one in 2014. In 2020 I sold that plane and tried to stop flying. That didn't stick very long and a few months later I found a rental/dry-lease that actually works for my needs. Not flying quite as much as I was at my peak but I'm going faster now so every hour covers 340+ NM.

View attachment 104799

...that said, I'm definitely going to be an owner again at some point in the near/medium term.

I always love hearing how someone who averaged 3.8 hours of flying per year over a 13 year period can justify buying a plane. Uh, but then it seems like u kinda went ahead and justified it. Probably not typical, I’d guess.
 
I always love hearing how someone who averaged 3.8 hours of flying per year over a 13 year period can justify buying a plane. Uh, but then it seems like u kinda went ahead and justified it. Probably not typical, I’d guess.

Chicken/Egg thing - once I could really afford to jump in for real (both time and $$$ after I got my a$$ kicked in the first 8 years of my career), I decided I would really make it happen. Bought my first Cirrus, got my IR and started using GA to go places. In 2008 I was super-mega-hyper-platinum on just about every airline out there as a pretty established management consultant who traveled 200+ days a year on the airlines and then I bought an airplane and immediately started getting calls from the airline's client service departments worried about why I hadn't flown with them in a while. I flew that plane all over the place and made some amazing memories, met some of my best friends through COPA, Oshkosh, etc...


...also, I was 17 in 1995 (my "big" year prior to ownership)
 
...also, I was 17 in 1995 (my "big" year prior to ownership)
Since you started logging flights when you were 13-14, you must have had an eye on an aviation career back then?
 
You should feel very fortunate for having such good access to aircraft that aren’t treated like garbage. I might not own either if that were available to me.
I do. It also usually meant have the right airplane to fit the mission.

But I know there are still advantages to ownership, even partial. I was in one arrangement where I was the only pilot flying the airplane. Sounds perfect. 100% access with 0% responsibility. Loved that Comanche and flew it a lot for a few years. But it also meant no say in the equipment. It was Colorado so IFR wasn't all that important on balance but it could have used some upgrades.
 
I bought my 172 summer 2018 from a friend who I was renting it from. I have done a lot of upgrades since and am still not "under water" with it yet.
I have flown it 260 hrs per year since. I fly it too much to have a partner.
IMG_1346.JPG
 
I'm surprised there are not more partnerships/co-ownerships.

Are you sure there aren’t more? They seem pretty common, at least in my area. I know of quite a few at my local airports, everything from a Cherokee 180 to a King Air. Of course, they don’t advertise or have FB pages or anything, it’s just 2 or 3 people that bought into a plane together. They’re not looking for more partners, so you never hear about them.
 
Are you sure there aren’t more? They seem pretty common, at least in my area. I know of quite a few at my local airports, everything from a Cherokee 180 to a King Air. Of course, they don’t advertise or have FB pages or anything, it’s just 2 or 3 people that bought into a plane together. They’re not looking for more partners, so you never hear about them.

As an absolute, no I don't know that. I do know more sole owners than partnerships though. Many/most of the sole owners I know fly under 100 hour / year. That's a pretty small sample set though. I did meet one guy flying a Cirrus over 400 hours/year; uses it for his business. No way he could share the plane. I don't think everyone needs to be in a partnership, just that it is a route to more affordable flying for many people with more availability for trips than most flight clubs.
 
Are you sure there aren’t more? They seem pretty common, at least in my area. I know of quite a few at my local airports, everything from a Cherokee 180 to a King Air. Of course, they don’t advertise or have FB pages or anything, it’s just 2 or 3 people that bought into a plane together. They’re not looking for more partners, so you never hear about them.

I agree. I’m aware of at least 15x partnerships than the 3 that are public knowledge. Shoot, one of our partners is a partner in 2 other planes, as well.

In another couple of years, we will likely get into another partnership. Don’t know if we will stay in the current one or not by then.
 
There's nothing economical about me flying.
 
I'm surprised there are not more partnerships/co-ownerships. Lots of fixed costs with flying. Even having one partner cuts capital and fixed costs in half. That's a big difference in annual flying costs.

Flying trips can eat up 2.5 hour/week pretty quickly. Flying for an hour on nice Saturdays, not so much. We visited my wife's sister and BIL a couple of weeks ago near St Pete, then hopped over to the Atlantic side "on the way home" to have lunch and visit with friends. That was 7 hours of flying for a four-day weekend. We'll probably fly 8+ hours visiting our youngest daughter next month. Toss in some Angel Flight missions, 5 hours last Sunday, and the hours add up quickly.

I think it's sad when I read stories about annuals on planes that had just enough hours to taxi back-and-forth since the last annual; although that's the extreme. Just hearing about an annual with 20 - 30 hours since the last annual is bad enough. :oops: Sometimes life happens. Something breaks, parts issues, mechanics availability, work and family constraints.

My dad and I were going to partner up way back when, but realized the plane only gets used on weekends/long weekends, and we weren't going to get into a "but I wanted the plane that weekend" every damn weekend.

Best partnership would be if all parties are retired and weekends can be any two days of the week, or one works M-F and the other Th-M, or one just wants to pop around on a Tuesday evening and never go anywhere. But when you all have the same work schedule and a travel plane, it ain't gonna work - at least not for me where a lot of trips are last minute because I get a call on Thursday, "what are you doing this weekend?"

But I'd partner up with someone in 2 planes. Anyone want to do halfsies on a 58 Baron?
 
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