Should I buy a plane... or Not?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Chapel K., Nov 20, 2022.

?

If you were in my shoes, would you buy a plane?

  1. Yes

    64.8%
  2. No

    35.2%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Chapel K.

    Chapel K. Pre-Flight

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    This question has bugged me for over a year. I had asked other questions during my days learning to fly and pass check rides, and I was lucky enough to get input from many of you. That's why I decided to reach out again. In order to receive more relevant advice and recommendation from this group. Let me spill my guts and share some basic information re my current situation in my aviation journey.

    Well, am 55, retired, got CPL IFR ASEL, and 350+-Hrs of flight time in the past three years. Can commit three to four hours per day to fly. Financially stable and could afford a pre-owned Cirrus, like a G2 SR 20 or even 22 with a little stretch. Don't need a job in aviation (so CFI is not my goal).

    What bothers me is I failed to come up with a mission to continue my aviation journey.

    I don't have too many out-of-state relatives or friends, as all family members from both sides are living in the same state, and I went to school in the same state. I cannot find any sound reason to fly for two to three hours ... If I got bored with my Simulator (MSFS 2020 and X-plane 11/12), I can easily book planes at a local flight school, and even flying weekly will cost about the same as the monthly hanger fee. On top of that, I don't have to worry about maintenance stuff. Also, my wife doesn't like GA planes after first flying, that takes away the possibility of a family vacation to some places.

    So all in all, I don't seem to find a sound reason to buy a plane. So, I felt that my aviation journey kinda get stuck...

    Any input will be highly appreciated!
     
  2. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

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    Me thinks you have already answered your own questions. ;)

    But what do I know as I'm a lowly Sport Pilot that flies because it's enjoyable. When the wheels leave the ground I'm where I wanna be ...
     
  3. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Well, that's because you framed it in the limited scope of a traveling-minded mission airplane. But it doesn't sound like you have a traveling mission, so that approach seems rather self-defeating. Heck, even I have a tough time justifying keeping the Arrow on those grounds, given current family job schedule limitations (my handcuff to selling it is inflation/replacement related). And as someone who has bought airplanes in the past and immediately outgrew it due to mission incompatibility, I concur you shouldn't buy an airplane if it legitimately doesn't fit your desired mission.

    At the risk of sounding Capt Obvious, if you're gonna buy an airplane, buy something that does the kind of flying you would presume to enjoy. Thankfully, there's more to american piston rec aviation than a fac-built four seater. You got STOL, amphibs, tailwheel, acro, and most importantly, experimental equivalents in all said categories (we call that twofers :D). So lean on those alternative flying sub-categories if you're looking at a more lone-wolfy angle to the hobby. Saves you money on the two seaters as well. You can also parlay that with social fly-ins with like minded owners who share your interest in flying xyz. The fact your wife doesn't like your hobby may/could be disappointing, but shouldn't be particularly relevant in the aggregate. It's your hobby, you either want to do it for your reasons or you don't. No right or wrong answer on that one.

    I'm sure I'm missing a few sub-categories one could dabble in, that others should be able to bring up here. If none of that meet your interest, then yes, no point in owning a rent-accessible spam can. Renting it for the occasional run around the patch would work more economically over ownership, certainly beat sole ownership on the cost front for such a limited use.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Surprised the no votes are stronger. I voted yes. Sounds like you've ran the financial numbers and can afford it. You don't have a plane now so it seems like there is no mission, but that's the beauty of aviation - it doesn't have to be practical or force fit some standard mission. As the post above suggests, get a plane that fits YOUR mission. If that means a Piper Cub that you can fly a few times a week around the pattern then that's what that is. If that means buying a Cirrus and doing Angel Flights or Pilots 'N Paws or something else, then that's what that is. Or, if that's buying a Warrior and getting involved in the local aviation community, doing the weekend pancake runs, that's fine too.
     
  5. RandyM

    RandyM Filing Flight Plan

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    Sounds like you love aviation. You have time to devote to it. And you can afford it. Buy the plane…
     
  6. Dana

    Dana En-Route

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    Sounds like you don't need to own a Cirrus, so don't buy one. Instead explore aerobatics, seaplanes, gliders, bushplanes, antiques, homebuilts. Then if you still can't find a reason to own, look into sailing.
     
  7. SkyChaser

    SkyChaser Pattern Altitude

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    You said you had three to four hours a day you could fly. That right there tells me you'd like a plane, so my answer is yes.

    Does your wife not like flying or is she scared of it? Are you looking at a Cirrus because the CAPS makes her feel better about it? If she doesn't like flying, she doesn't like it and that's pretty hard to get over, but if she is scared or gets motion sick, you might be able to assuage her fears and calm her nausea and get her to fly. In which case, I'd recommend a newer and roomier plane with a lot of "comforts" built in so she enjoys the flight.

    If you're going to be solo, consider a plane that's fun to play with - a tailwheel or a "sporty" plane. It doesn't sound like you're stuck in your aviation journey, but it does sound like your expected path was stymied. Instead of being a travelling pilot with the luggage to match, you might discover you enjoy being the kind of pilot with a plane simple enough to preflight and be in the air fifteen minutes after pulling up in front of your hangar. Most journeys have a few unexpected twists and turns in them!
     
  8. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    **** the mission.

    If you want an airplane, buy an airplane. If you are happy renting, then rent. The main issues with renting are availability (typically minor) except perhaps on those occasions when you do want to go somewhere for a few days. And, the marginal cost - do I really want to spend $150/hour just for the heck of it. If you own it, then most of the cost is already paid - even if it just sits in the hangar - so why not go for a ride?

    For me, I rarely do any traveling in mine. And, it would be a lot less money, time, and effort to rent. But it's nice just to take an hour or two to go fart around locally when I feel like it.

    Go buy something like a Champ, Kitfox, Cessna 120, or Flybaby. Perfect for farting around in on a nice day.
     
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  9. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    I'll throw in a new thought - don't buy a plane. I really, really want demand in the market to crash so prices go down.
     
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  10. TCABM

    TCABM En-Route

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    Don’t buy, get your CFI and -I and teach. Solves your flying itch and avoids ownership induced marital problems.
     
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  11. Pugs

    Pugs Cleared for Takeoff

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    You really seem like someone who would benefit from being in a small club or partnership or maybe even more than one! Sure, you can afford your own plane but hanging around with some other like-minded folks is fun and if run correctly, a small club offers both a nice plane and availability. Someone always needs to swap safety pilot duties or wants to go someplace to a fly-in or breakfast and it's more fun with a couple of folks

    Join two clubs (or start one) with a taildragger and an instrument plane or a twin.

    I've seriously thought about buying as we move and retire but I've already joined a new club in NH and it looks like there's opportunities for a 2nd. Looking forward to meeting new folks and flying to new places. I think it's going to work for me.
     
  12. Terry M - 3CK (Chicago)

    Terry M - 3CK (Chicago) Line Up and Wait

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    You have the time and financial resources to fly 4-hrs a day? That's like $4k a week for a 172 rental near me.

    Wow.

    I agree with above. What do you enjoy about flying?

    For me - a Champ or Cub partnership, but with some radios, would be perfect! Low cost. Fun. Nostalgic. I don't have time to go anywhere and my family isn't interested.

    I'd putz around for an hour in the morning or sunset and be happy as a clam!!! Scared myself on my Cub intro flight, no such partnerships (or hangars) near me so I went a different direction.

    Sounds like funds and time aren't an obstacle for you.

    L39 jet or similar aerobatic warbird type plane? Extra 300 and compete? That will absorb your time and money while giving you a goal.
     
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  13. CJones

    CJones Final Approach

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    If you're looking for an 'excuse' to stay proficient at planning and flying trips beyond the local patch, Angel Flight is always looking for volunteers. Don't do it begrudgingly, though.
     
  14. cowman

    cowman En-Route

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    Of course you shouldn’t but do it anyway. It’s fun.
     
  15. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I do a good bit of cross country flights. So buying an airplane fit my mission. After reading your post,you might want to consider a club with like minded pilots.
     
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  16. Kelvin

    Kelvin En-Route

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    Don't repeat me but most missions are manufactured to begin with...buy the plane...
     
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  17. Brad W

    Brad W Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Yep
    Buy...the only question really is which sort of plane. As others have mentioned....if you have zero need or interest in travel, then focus more on fun local flyers.
    I've always said the most fun I had flying was in an old and very simple 7AC Aeronca Champ. It was just after my instrument rating and I think it was a great way to decompress. It just felt like it was in it's element low and slow with the window open. In faster planes, even something like a 172, I felt like it wasn't comfortable until I was up just a bit higher for cruise flight...like maybe at least 2,500 ft but really more. With the champ it was at home much lower...and for local sightseeing loops around the local area it seemed perfect to me.

    For you it could be something like that...or it might instead be a gyro or something else....

    But the one thing is for sure.... I figured out that for me the only way flying makes sense is if I owned my own aircraft. Available when I wanted or could go, known history, I could leave my stuff in it and set up just how I like it, etc.... so it would be no big deal to jump in and go when the mood hits. With a rental it's just so much more of a bigger production just to go take a few laps around the pattern or whatever.... and that leads to not going when you want to. Buy something if you can.
     
  18. Redneckpilot

    Redneckpilot Pre-Flight

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    @bflynn brings up a good point. I think aircraft prices are going to plummet in the next year or two.
    I am seriously considering selling my 182 now and holding out for a while to buy a BT-13 or an AT-6. I’ve wanted one of those since I was a kid, and they are a helluva lot more fun! (and a lot more work)
    I dearly love my Skylane, but I don’t fly instruments any more and we don’t do trips like we did, so maybe I need to shift gears.

    Very few who own a plane need a plane, myself included. But if you take pride in ownership, enjoy messing with something all the time, and enjoy flying like it sounds like you do - go for it. I just wouldn’t be in a big hurry.
     
  19. Tools

    Tools Cleared for Takeoff

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    Why don’t you reword the question and just let us decide WHAT you’re gonna buy?!!

    Just sayin

    Ala Nauga,

    very skilled at justification
     
  20. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I voted yes, but personally I rent. My problem is I've been flying newer Cirrus 22s and they are expensive. My wife balks at purchasing one, it's expensive. Plus you need to add in hangar rent, maintenance, annuals and stuff like that. I know folks who own planes and they seem to be down a fair amount.

    For me, I have a great renting situation. I rent from a place that has 10+ planes, is convenient for me and basically gives concierge service. If a plane has an issue, they pull out another. For instance, a few weeks ago, I had a mission to pick up rescue dogs for my SIL. I get to the ramp, and the airplane is covered with about 1/4 inch of frost. The guy pulls up and says, "oh, we switched planes for you, it will be out here in five minutes.". I'm also doing a long term rental in February through the beginning of April. All in all for the amount of flying I do, I still think it's a cheaper deal than if I owned the same airplane.

    So there are a lot of variables. Around here, hangars are scarce and snow has already started. You really don't want a plane on a tie down here if you are going to fly regularly.

    Now if my rental situation changes, I will probably figure it out and buy. Probably not a newer Cirrus though. Time will tell.
     
  21. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I find it hard to believe that with a fast airplane @Chapel K. wouldn't find cool places to go.
     
  22. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    That wasn't actually my point...it was a little in jest. I'll try again

    I'll throw in a new thought - don't buy a plane. I really, really want demand in the market to crash so prices go down (so I can buy)
     
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  23. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I voted 'no'

    You have enough experience to know what flying brings you personally.

    If you thought dropping 150K on a plane and 10-20K/yr flying it would bring enough joy to you, you'd have bought the plane already.

    You worked for those dollars, they need to work for you now. If aviation isn't it, it's something else.
     
  24. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    I'm sort of in a similar situation. Why buy when you have access to a big fleet of generally capable planes. Renting has its issues for sure, but on the flip side if a plane goes down for maintenance my biggest inconvenience is having to find something else for that weekend. I'm nowhere near being able to afford owning a Cirrus. But renting one.. sure. If my renting situation changes a Cirrus is realistically out of the question.. I did recently fall for the Centurion though, specifically 210L models. I hate highwings but something about these planes works for me

    Maybe, or maybe he's always rationalized his way out of it.. "I should save the money" "I have no mission" "no one NEEDS a plane" etc
     
  25. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    Someone said it....:frog:
     
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  26. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    To the OP..

    have you thought about a helicopter?
    If I didn't have anywhere to travel to, and just wanted fun local stuff, that would probably be my choice.
    or possibly as mentioned, a super STOL.
     
  27. Half Fast

    Half Fast Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @SkyChaser pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    My advice? Buy something small and simple and (relatively) inexpensive for daily fun flying and $100 hamburgers and pancake breakfasts. A light sport might be ideal. Then if and when you want something bigger, rent. Connect with some other local pilots and plan a few morning flyouts to visit aviation museums, go fishing, attend fly-ins, whatever.

    Also, take out the following ad in the "personals" section:
    "Pilot with own airplane, retired and financially healthy, seeks female traveling companion for weekend trips and adventure. All expenses paid."

    One of two things will happen: either your wife will suddenly discover she actually enjoys flying with you, or you will meet a nice lady who does.
    :devil:
     
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  28. Half Fast

    Half Fast Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Or perhaps https://www.auto-gyro.com/en/Gyroplane/AutoGyro-Models/Cavalon/ ?

    Easier to fly and to maintain than a helicopter, but has much of the same capability.
     
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  29. Chapel K.

    Chapel K. Pre-Flight

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    I can never thank you enough for your kind, encouraging, and insightful replies! I felt that my journey got renewed.

    Summary:
    1. Change the mission from traveling to having fun. As @hindsight2020 so rightfully pointed out, traveling to places was a self-limited mission that I had in mind back in 2017. At the time, I was working and needed some travel.
    2. Lower the ticket price by letting go of the Cirrus idea. Yes, I did hope that a Cirrus with CAPS might potentially ease my wife's fear. Probably that won't help either. In so doing also lowers the chance of having "ownership-induced marital" conflicts.
    3. Join a club and find a group of like-minded folks to do fly-in or pancake fly etc!

    Actions:
    1. Join a local club. Already found one and sent a membership application.
    2. Looking at different types of fun airplanes.


    For everyone who voted and/or replied thank you a million! I knew that I'd get the right recommendation, inspiration, knowledge, and wisdom from this group! Really appreciated!

    P.S.: My personal favorite goes to the Personal Ad.: "Pilot with own airplane, retired and financially healthy, seeks female traveling companion for weekend trips and adventure. All expenses paid." LMAO!
     
  30. Half Fast

    Half Fast Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We have a few retired folks flying LSAs and enjoying it. They can probably offer a little advice, if you're leaning that way. Paging @FastEddieB and @Stan Cooper .

    An LSA would be less expensive, use less fuel, and you won't have to worry if you become unable to keep your medical. From what you've described, I'd bet an LSA would do fine for most of your flying.
     
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  31. Brad W

    Brad W Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    hey, it's all relative...right?
     
  32. MarkH

    MarkH Line Up and Wait

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    I would not buy if I were in your position.

    My logic comes down to 2 factors:

    1) You don't want to do anything that a club will not let you do.

    2) Buying a plane will give you a sunk cost limitation to what that plane can do.

    Take advantage of the flexibility and comfort to try flying that you have not done before, then if you find something worth buying for, buy it.

    Some ideas would include:
    Gliders: (If you have not already), consider pursuing a glider rating. If it gets you excited, but a glider. If it does not get you excited (even if you don't finish the rating), the training could improve your stick and rudder skills.
    Gyroplanes: I have a soft spot for ridiculous little flying machines, but the lack of SLSA gyros means that 95% of the gyros flying today cannot be rented
    Seaplanes: its a cool skill, but if you like it enough to use it you will need to have the money to buy.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that owning a plane is a completely different set of skills vs flying a plane. Owning a plane comes with a lot of new, novel frustrations, but if owning a plane gives you experiences that you can't get from renting, then the frustrations can be worth it.
     
  33. brcase

    brcase En-Route

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    Agree, sounds to me like you need a Citabria. Can do mild acrobatics, tailwheel, Acceptable cross country, great hamburger and fly-in airplane. And not something that is likely an easy rental for you.

    If you have a glider operation nearby that would be a great option as well, you might find you like flying tow planes or the gliders. Glider tend to be a social sport where you go fly with other gliders.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
    LS6b N1720
     
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  34. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    Find a club to scratch that itch. I think you may enjoy the comradery, and the individual costs would sure be less.
     
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  35. Tobias Göller

    Tobias Göller Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi There!

    The question is: Do you need to have a mission - OR - what kind of mission would you love to have?

    Visiting relatives is one thing. You mentioned a Cirrus above... question I have: Is this the right aircraft for you? I imagine you have plenty of off-airport-landing-possibilities... so why not try that? The cirrus is a great aircraft for long distances. But you can't do much besides flying from A to B. Why not buy something STOL - and make a personal mission out of it?

    From a financial point of view... if it's easely doable (lucky you! :) )... every aircraft can be sold if you decide not to pursue flying. But the last shirt you're wearing won't have any pockets...

    Yes, everything out there is trying to kill us. So we should at least choose something fun :)

    Tobias
     
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  36. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    trust me....you don't need a mission to own an airplane. ;)
     
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  37. Tobias Göller

    Tobias Göller Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi
    No. But at the time you own an airplane you will have one (and if it's only keeping that thing in the air :) )

    Tobias
     
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  38. Terry M - 3CK (Chicago)

    Terry M - 3CK (Chicago) Line Up and Wait

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    Loved your follow up post @Chapel K.

    Sounds like a great next step and changeable if not what you want.

    I suggested buying a Champ/Cub or Extra 300 up string but, myself, joined a club that had a waiting list about 3-months back. While far from perfect, for me, I'm more positive now that direct ownership wasn't the right answer. We have 20-guys a 182 and a 172. The MX cost was eye opening to me. Obviously the planes fly more than they would if I owned them myself (either one) but each month there has been some kind of mx item.

    I just don't have the time to manage a plane as well as this group does (there are about 4-5 of the 20 who are really all over it). Definitely some drawback for me (no hangar and no cockpit heater with cold weather here - like I had with rentals (in hangars, with engine and cockpit heaters AND someone else to clear away the snow in front of the hangar)) but accessibility is way better. Avionics are much better (I have to learn how to use them) and if I wanted to actually go somewhere overnight I could easily do that here on shorter notice.

    Let us know how the club works out!

    ETA: One other benefit for me is the monthly meeting. With 3 small kids I don't get away much unless for work. Flying is "stealing" time from the kids or my wife who is with them when I'm at work so I essentially only fly short trips while they're at school and I can sneak away from work.

    This club meets in-person 1 night a month. I've been to 2 of the 3 meetings and enjoyed them. Seems more legitimate to the wife than going out with friends which is always guilt ridden (and almost non-existent). So far a quirky group of dudes but we're talking aviation. I enjoy it. I guess we are all weird.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2022
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  39. Tobias Göller

    Tobias Göller Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi Terry,

    As I understand the club aircrafts you have aren't in a hangar... which might contribute to the MX Issues you're facing... especially cold and wet weather is killing aircrafts.

    Tobias
     
  40. Terry M - 3CK (Chicago)

    Terry M - 3CK (Chicago) Line Up and Wait

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    Terry
    @Tobias Göller a few of the original owners (club members - they didn't own the plane outright) fight the hangar pretty hard.

    The MX guru argues it would cause more corrosion than sitting outside in the Midwest because a cement floor is conducive to moisture?

    I don't agree but admit I've never looked into it. At $650+/month per hangar that's an extra $60/member - I think they're balking at the price and they're view you can repaint the planes every 10-years for less than the price differential.

    But the planes already sat a healthy part of November (as soon as it got below freezing) and I saw the pictures from Spring 2022 of birds nests and stuff on their Slack feed when I joined.

    A few of the newer members and a couple of older members want hangars but doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon. I knew that when I joined. That's my biggest disappointment by a wide margin.