What plane should I buy?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by golfmogul, Jul 11, 2020.

  1. golfmogul

    golfmogul Pre-Flight

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    What plane should I buy?

    Should solo next week & finish my PPL within the next few months. Been using an older Piper Cherokee 140 but I want to sell it as soon as I get my license and buy something that better fits my needs. Typical mission for the new plane (once I have plenty of hours in a newer safer plane): take my 3 kids and dog + minimal luggage from my home airport (U42 in utah) to Oceanside CA (OCN) which is approx 520 NM. Weight: me 180, child one 195, child two 165, child three 140, dog 45, luggage 125 (850 Lbs total not including any gas). Budget is $175k - $300k. As a new pilot I strongly prefer fixed gear. Safety is by far the most important priority for this purchase. Having a very hard time finding any single piston aircraft with a useful load high enough to safely carry my family + fuel and also considering that we will always be flying out of the Salt Lake City area where our home airfield sits at 4600 MSL and we will have to clear mountains pretty much no matter where we go from here. I love the Cirrus SR22T G3 for its safety, its speed, and its looks, but the useful load seems tight (would kill for the G5 but it’s well out of my budget). Started looking at Beechcraft Bonanza‘s and piper Saratoga’s tonight (bc they are six seaters) but i’m still not sure if they have enough useful load. The piper Malibu has great speed and useful load, but I think they all have retractable landing gear if I’m not mistaken, and I’m not sure if I could get comfortable with that. Haven’t looked into twins but aren’t those for more experienced pilots? Ideas/suggestions welcome. Thx.
     
  2. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Administrator Management Council Member

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    Cessna 206
     
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  3. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Cirrus
     
  4. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    182 with a paperwork STC that increases useful load ($750 if I remember right) for your 850 lbs of family, dog, and bags will get you full tanks (75 usable gallons @ 13gph is 5.75 hrs endurance to empty, 135 kts for 675 nm with 45 minute reserve).

    EDIT
    Here it is:
    https://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/appages/cessna182stc.php
     
  5. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    The Piper Lance/Saratoga is hard to beat. IMO, avoid things that steal your useful load, such as air conditioning.

    There's a few fixed-gear Saratogas out there, but they're not common.

    A turbo is helpful, especially as the Grand Canyon may lie in your flight path.

    Oceanside airport (KOKB) is a short field by some measures, and right at the edge of the Pacific. Keep a plan-B in mind. You'll have many, many days that you won't be able to land there when you want to. It's time to realize that an instrument rating is in your future.

    Don't be scared of retractable gear. It's simply another checklist item, one that your CFI should have lots of suggestions on how to drill it in your head.
     
  6. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    Sportsman 2+2 with turbo diesel
     
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  7. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Also, the 182 can be fitted with an aftermarket chute, if you wanted that for safety.

    As for high DA, there are plenty of 182s with higher HP engine installations that you could look for sale.

    If you wanted to go nuts, you could opt for a Peterson conversion with the front mounted elevator canards. I bought mine for family safety more than for STOL needs. Land at 55 kts if needed, Vsi 40 kts, Vso 35 kts, and a substantial “cage” firewall forward.

    <Inherent bias here, lol. Lotsa choices.>
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  8. JEB

    JEB Pre-Flight

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    If you're staying with fixed gear, then my first thought is a turbo 206 or maybe a light turbo 182.
    If you're willing to consider planes with retractable gear, choices get better. My early A36 will easily do what you want. A Saratoga should also do the job. The A36 is a bit faster, the Saratoga is a bit roomier. A nice turbo R182 (182RG) or a Turbo 210 would also do the job. For the distance you're considering, I'd be looking at the A36 or the T210 just because a little more speed is always nice.
     
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  9. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    A Cherokee 235 or maybe a Dakota would do that. A Lance would do that, and a Saratoga might, if it is an earlier one. Piper's planes always got heavier as the model progressed and they stuffed in more soundproofing and more lavish interiors, etc. An earlier A36 Bonanza might get it too, but you need one with at least a 1300# useful load. About the same for the Lance or Saratoga. 206 is an option, and maybe some of the 182's as well.
     
  10. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    EVERYBODY's planes got heavier for that reason. Check out the pathetic useful load of the current generation Cessna 182. Weight is the enemy of lift and that's one reason to look for a good older airframe with upgraded panel, imo.
     
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  11. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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  12. wheaties

    wheaties Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Will this really be a typical mission? Every single pilot I knew getting their PPL was claiming this. The reality is that almost all of them found out their spouses and loved ones didn't have the same passion for aviation. My own kids don't mind flying but my wife feels like she's riding in a lawnmower.

    Before you buy, take a few up and see if they want to do the $100 hamburger with you in what you got. If not, change your mission goals and buy the plane for that.
     
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  13. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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  14. CRQFlier

    CRQFlier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    206. Also, consider landing at OKB instead of OCN ... On a hot day, fully loaded maybe consider CRQ.

    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
     
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  15. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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  16. Cervieres

    Cervieres Pre-Flight

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    Well said. As a low time pilot who I assume wants to build time, look for something that is cheap enough to operate that you don't have to check your bank account every time you fly. You also might want to look for an aircraft that is suitable for getting an instrument and commercial rating. Pulling to power to idle for a steep spiral and watching CHTs plummet in a big turbocharged engine is a little painful if you are the one paying for maintenance.

    An early 2000s SR22T might be a decent option for hot and high performance, but minus some dogs and children. If you absolutely have to have the seats and useful load, I agree with some other posters that a T206 is hard to beat.There are a few of both on the marked that are close to your price range. You will save a ton on insurance by going the fixed gear route, and the dispatch reliability and parts support will be better than some older aircraft no longer in production.
     
  17. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Based on 4 essentially adult sized folks plus large dog, fixed gear I think you’re pretty much in Piper Cherokee 6 (later called Saratoga or 6XT) or Cessna 205/206. Watch the useful load to get what you need. They vary significantly depending on age and equipment.
     
  18. JEB

    JEB Pre-Flight

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    3 weeks ago In my A36, I took off with full tanks, 4 adults, a 50 pound kid, a 70+ pound dog and luggage for 3 days per person from a field with a 7,000 foot+ elevation on a hot day. - DA was 9,900! Climbed out at better than 500 feet a minute and did it all while fully within the W&B envelope. So, yeah... you can go with a Piper or a Cessna if you want. I'll take my Bonanza every single time. It's not fixed gear, but so what? It really doesn't add that much to overall cost of ownership if you buy right and stay responsible with your maintenance.
     
  19. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    A bonanza is a wonderful plane. But he specifically asked for fixed gear. So I answered with what he asked. That’s all.
     
  20. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    I think that rejecting all retracts on safety grounds is wrong. Some of them have a potential for mechanical issues, so I would avoid Cessna 210. But Bonanzas are completely fine. Pipers have a bullet-proof gear mechanism too. The biggest downside of a retract is the insurance. Rates are just absurd these days. I'm paying $1300 for a hull that was worth $45k in its best days.

    But the safety concerns of twins are real. When you fly a single, you practice, or can practice, the piloting you need in emergency. When you fly a twin routinely, you don't! And, an engine emergency will require prompt, even aggressive, action. In my mind, a twin requires a diligent recurrent training in a sim. It is an additional expense and time requirement.

    Finally, with all the good things I can say about Saratoga, I'd steer clear from a PA-46 such as Malibu. People I know keep crashing those. They are MU-2 of large singles: something about their flying qualities is just not friendly.

    Oh, and... I admit that it jumped on me too just how fat the kids were, and the missing wife. Something is not right, we're not hearing the whole story. If they're just about to leave for the college, why saddle yourself with an oversized airplane?
     
  21. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    The OP didn’t say he wanted fixed gear for reduced maintenance nor because malfunctions are above his safety threshold. He said he didn’t want the additional concern as a pilot. There are a couple of alternatives that fit his requirements so why are any of us trying to sell him on retracts ?
     
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  22. Lgchris

    Lgchris Filing Flight Plan

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    maintenance on a retract isn't that big of a deal, it's the insurance cost that will be higher
     
  23. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Another C-206 vote for me. For $300k turbo is an option as well. 182 is a good airplane but you won't fit 4 adults(or non-toddlers), a dog and gear in one. C-206 or 205, maybe with an IO-520 or 550 engine fits your mission.
     
  24. JEB

    JEB Pre-Flight

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    In response to the "why keep pushing retracts question";

    The OP seems to have a budget that covers a pretty solid aircraft. The additional cost for retract is really not worth ruling one out - IF - you buy an airplane that... A) Isn't famous for having expensive gear surprises (C210) and... B) the plane has been well cared for.

    If it's a concern with the added complexity of owning a retract - I think many pilots who don't have retract experience shy away from the option because it's just not familiar to them. Getting a complex endorsement is not hard at all. A good pilot will adapt quickly and is very capable of flying an RG well. It's just not rocket science.

    The larger GA aircraft that fit the needs of the OP - and that are also RGs - bring much more capability. Experienced owners on here keep mentioning it because they have been through the decision process and (at least in my case) can say that the RG is absolutely worth the cost and complexity - which again, are not out of the OPs realm of possibilities.

    I'm in no way preaching that an RG option is the only option, but I definitely think that the RG options should be considered. if not, you're just forcing limits upon yourself. We're pilots. Most of us don't tend to be the type to limit ourselves. As a group, we tend to be more inclined to expand our horizons than others.

    If on the other hand, the OP has solid (50+) hours of RG experience and he just doesn't want that - then fine.
     
  25. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    The fear shouldn't be retractable gear. The fear should be a low-time pilot loading his family and dog into an airplane in high-DA conditions doing a long XC flight.

    Get a turbo plane, OP. Get a ~285/300hp class plane made by whomever you like (T206 as mentioned, there are others, most are retracts of course), but most importantly, please get a ton of high-quality training in the thing before you haul a half-ton of your precious cargo 2 states away through the desert west. That's not an ideal "just got my license" mission, and it needs a cautious approach.

    $0.02
     
  26. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    My thoughts exactly. If you're saying I don't want a retract because I just don't trust myself to be able to handle putting the gear up and remembering to put it back down.... well you should probably rethink wanting to load the family up and take off from a high density airport for a 520nm xc on a regular basis.
     
  27. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    I see no reason to have a turbo unless you plan on flying above 12000’ regularly. You can get around the high density altitude problem by just scheduling your takeoff for the morning hours. A little flexibility of your schedule will solve that problem.
     
  28. Cervieres

    Cervieres Pre-Flight

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    More than half of the accidents in piston retractables are gear up landings, so as much as we may want to discount the impact of retractable gear, the risk is very real. Most of those gear up landings probably happened to good pilots with clean records. Buy something with the gear down and welded and relatively forgiving to fly. Put 500 hours on it and then move up to something more challenging and capable.
     
  29. JEB

    JEB Pre-Flight

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    Definitely have to agree with Schmookeeg here. He's worth listening to. His post made me stop and remember that we all have different levels of experience and of course we are ALL still learning.

    In the future, I'm probably going to think a moment longer before I post in a way that makes it seem like that kind of operation is "normal". I definitely consider myself and my plane to both be qualified and capable to do the type of flight that I described - and his Baron even more so, but I certainly wouldn't have considered that kind of flight when I was a much lower time / less experienced pilot.

    Cheers Mike! When are you headed back down south?
     
  30. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Heya!

    Vegas end of the month, Phoenix/Havasu before or after. Our LA plans cancelled because double lockdown ehrmagerd coronaface. :D Wanna pow-wow at the strip? Looks like it's gonna be a depressing ghost town and record heat wave. Ugh. I'll ping ya in a bit, maybe a shenanigan can be concocted.
     
  31. JEB

    JEB Pre-Flight

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    uhhhhh yeah the strip hmmmm... ghost town, heat wave, depression
    I'll take the zero Mr hand.
     
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  32. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Pattern Altitude

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    I'll stick with my answer. If you're not confident that you can handle retractable gear, you probably should not be considering buying anything with the intention of doing long XC's with family in the mountains. Get a 172 and do burger runs until you get enough experience to consider trying to do actual travel.
     
  33. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    I almost started arguing with that "High DA" boogeyman. But then I remembered that my experience is at a lowest rank of flying. I flew in New Mexico on 56 hp (sic) and now I think that "high DA" is no big deal. I took off in C150 in DA above 10,000 and it was fine. In my view, weather is way worse: thunderstorms, snow, hail, mountain obscuration, wind. I avoid even simplest passes like La Veta when it blows 25 knots. The downdrafts are going to be crazy. But high DA? I just compute the remaining climb gradient, map a departure course, and always ready to turn back towards the lowest terrain. But... Flying a real airplane with family is different. I remember a guy in Pilatus killed his family in Florida some 5 years ago because he tried to jump over a thunderstorm. Perhaps the concern is being used to always have abundant performance, and then one hot day not having enough.
     
  34. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    For fixed gear only.

    I'd rule out a 182 and Dakota/Pathfinder. Partly because 4 of that size + dog for 520nm will be cramped. Partly because at high DA if you want to knock 10% of MTOW for safety margin then you are leaving behind enough fuel that 520nm won't be possible. If you are going fixed gear 4 seater load less than full fuel and plan 1 stop somewhere in the middle to stretch.

    Otherwise SR22, 206, 6/300, maybe even Cessna 400(pre TTx) could be had right up around your high end.

    Thats a 4hr+ trip in all but the SR22 and 400/TTx.

    For the SR22 and 400/TTx it could be a 3hr trip but you may not be able to carry enough fuel due to W&B. So the 3hrs turns into 3.5hrs after a family pit stop for fuel and stretching out.

    For all the 4 seaters (182,Cirrus,TTX/400, etc) bringing puppy kind of complicates things - he's on a lap or taking up scarce leg room or in the baggage area. Our dog is 70lbs and would hate the baggage compartment. But there's just 3 of us so it works out nice.
     
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  35. Erik1010

    Erik1010 Pre-Flight

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    With the weights you described, I’d be looking at a Turbo Saratoga. They’re roomy, reasonably fast, fixed gear and have a rear baggage door. If you want a bit more speed, take a look at an A36(tc).


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