Buying/owning a plane?

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Chuckie

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I do not. Not for passenger aircraft at least. The idea of having a plane tickled my fancy as a kid, I my family knew a navy pilot who had his own aircraft. I thought that owning a plane was the peak of wealth. A few years ago, when getting my commercial unmanned aircraft pilot license, the idea poked into my head again, and found out about bush planes.

I'm looking at something like these:
https://justaircraft.com/https://kitfoxaircraft.com/
Meanwhile, while you're working towards your PPL, you can practice some of what you learn AND keep the ultimate goal firmly in mind.

https://pilotinstitute.com/flying-without-a-license/
Or you could always go BOLD!

 
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CoronaBorealis

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I fly for a living. Learning to fly is not impossible. I have around 2000 hours as a flight instructor and the textbook side of learning to fly is a piece of cake. Of course you won't know some of the things right now that people have mentioned on this thread, but once you're finished with ground school you'll know those things. It just takes instruction, as with anything.

Learning to actually fly is a challenge, but not impossible. We aren't training you to be Maverick and land on an aircraft carrier. Holding altitude, attitude, heading while simultaneously talking on the radio and being situationally aware of other airplanes in the area -- that's certainly overwhelming to new pilots, but gets easier with experience.

Your question was about owning an airplane, though. A decent airplane could probably be had for the price of a very nice car -- $50,000-$60,000. Insurance, hangar rent, annual inspections are all fixed costs. Avgas runs around $5/gallon right now, and most little airplanes are going to burn around 8-10 gallons/hr. Your actual operating cost will vary based on how frequently you fly. The more you fly, the lower your hourly operating cost will be because you can divide the fixed costs over a greater number of hours.

You can generally land at any public airport. Some charge parking fees, some don't, and some will waive the fees with a fuel purchase. As for just landing the plane out in the wilderness, I really don't have any knowledge of that but if it's a wildlife refuge, you can just about be sure that's not going to be allowed. You aren't even required to file a flight plan as a VFR pilot. It's encouraged though, so if you go missing people have a general idea of where to start looking for you.

Your profile says you're in Oklahoma City -- before buying your own airplane, I'd look into joining a flying club. Engineers Flying Club is at Wiley Post and has been around for quite a while. I also found Central Oklahoma Aviators Flying Club after a quick search, but I don't know much about them. If you just plan to fly a few hours a year, renting on an hourly basis is probably your best option. Flying clubs typically have monthly dues to cover maintenance, hangar and insurance, but will also offer much cheaper hourly rates on the airplanes. You'll have to find that break even point for your goals.

I would absolutely love to own my own airplane, but right now I'm more interested in saving money for vacations with my family, stocking money away in retirement, saving for my daughter's college, etc. Maybe I'll buy a plane later in life. Hopefully I do.

So, I've dreamed for a long time of owning a plane. Specifically, a bush plane. Something that I can use to get remote places and all that, cheapish to run, easy to fly. My dream would be that I could take my plane, throw the dog and a bag in, and fly out somewhere to go camping/hunting/fishing for a weekend or something. But, I was wondering... what would it be like to own/how much would it cost, and what can I do with it?

Those of you who have planes/have had planes/know people who have planes, how often do you fly? What do you use it for?

What kind of costs are associated with it? I've seen guys say operating costs in the neighborhood of $20-50/hr, 2-3k/yr for insurance, 500/yr inspection, garmin nav is about 300/yr

What kind of laws are associated with flying? lets say I wanna go out to the sambinoso wilderness BLM land in New Mexico. Can I just hit up my local airport, submit a flight plan/whatever is needed, gas up, load up, fly to the destination, and land in a field at the BLM land? Or lets say I wanna go visit my buddy in Denver and then do some fishing in wyoming, I just submit a flight plan, fly up to denver, visit for a day and rent a parking spot, refuel and fly up to wyoming, land on some public land, go fishing, and then when I am done I can just submit my flight plan, take off and go home?
 

trekrok

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Yeah, I think the specs on most of those bush planes are takeoff/landing within about 150 feet. Damn impressive. Recently some crazy person in a carbon cub and took off from a helipad on top of a skyscraper in dubai, and then came back and landed on the same helipad.
Heck point it into the wind out there right now and you could probably take off vertically.
 

dabigboy

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Oh you've hit a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I'm an active pilot and have owned a plane since 2019. I also fly off-airport, along with several other friends. Flying is absolutely the best activity/addiction I've gotten into. I've been around it since I was a kid, and I love it. You have received some good advice here, but I also sense some generalized scare-talk regarding time/money/skills required. Let's get a couple things out of the way:

Avgas is around $5/gal right now. But there are plenty of planes (including mine) that are perfectly happy on non-ethanol car gas (87 is fine), including that Kitfox you mentioned. Fuel burn on a Kitfox (for instance) will be around 5 or 6 gallons per hour. So maybe $20/hr on car gas. Keep in mind it's actually lower sometimes if you're doing a lot of takeoff/landing practice, as you spend a lot of time at very reduced power settings.

Don't shop on Trade-A-Plane. That's the high-rent district. Check out Barnstormers.com, and also Facebook groups. I paid $18k for my Stinson 108 in 2019, that's a very capable 4-seater. Prices are up since then, but there are still deals to be had. Look at the old tube-and-fabric tailwheel models. An Aeronca Champ is a good 2-seat option that is right at home in the backcountry, especially with some big tires fitted. It's also pure bliss to fly. They can still be had for under $30k. Other options would be the Pacer, some Cubs, Rans, Taylorcraft, older Kitfoxes, Citabria.

Some of the ancillary costs discussed here are non-factors. Landing fees: only at a few big airports....I've been all over the US and have never encountered this. Subscriptions: you don't need them. Download a free moving-map app for your phone or tablet and go fly. I've flown all over the US with just a phone, tablet (sometimes) and a free nav app called Avare. But you can get a "premium" app for under $200/year if you want fancy features or just like giving money away.

There is no legal requirement to have insurance of any sort, though your local airport might require some basic liability coverage. That's all I have. Last year was around $360, which is the highest it's been.

Going off-airport is not THAT hard. Assuming 5 to 10 years of experience before you can start doing this sort of flying is absurd. There's no reason a competent CFI can't get you into the basics even as part of your primary training, in fact you'll end up a better pilot for it. The guy in that brown plane in my pics only got his tailwheel training the year before (though, to be fair, he logged like 100 hours in the past year, so he's flying a lot). I just crossed the 500hr mark myself.

Flight plans: not required for the type of flying you're talking about. You don't have to tell anyone where you're going.

I started landing on sandbars last year. My Stinson is not a bushplane per se, and I don't have big tires or a hotrod engine. I've found multiple places to land on the Canadian river, not far from the OKC metro. The sandbar in the attached pics is between Purcell and Ada. It's huge, I estimate over 1700ft usable. The people with the other two planes in the pic had never landed on a sandbar at all. The guy with the brown Cessna 120 was bone-stock with tiny wheels (600's). He struggled a bit, but was able to land and takeoff safely. It's not rocket science, but most pilots in the US have never known anything but huge strips of clear pavement with no obstacles around. Getting away from the pampered environment of an airport brings in a whole new set of risks and considerations. But it's just another skill set to develop, nothing crazy. Once you do it a few times, airports will suddenly start looking very "optional". :) And Oklahoma is a good sandbox for learning off-airport ops, as we are at low elevation, and it's pretty flat. I've also done some backcountry flying in Arkansas, which is a little more interesting with the mountains. I've done the airplane camping thing in Arkansas, that's a hoot! Probably going again this year. Some of my buddies camp out on the river, which I'll probably do once the weather warms up a bit.

I personally find the unique challenges and procedures of backcountry ops totally fun and engaging. It's something to embrace, not be afraid of (respectful, for sure, but not afraid). It will grow you as a pilot.

As to the legality of landing in random places, it depends a lot on your state. Oklahoma doesn't seem to have a lot of restrictions. Remember, sandbars/gravel bars on rivers are generally part of "navigable waterways", so they are pretty much fair game. Plus, one of the goals of backcountry flying is to get to places that are not easily accessible by other means, so....who's gonna bother you out there anyway? :) Wherever you go, be a good neighbor, respect others, share the land. I've passed spots up before because there were people too close by. Be mindful of your noise around houses and livestock, don't be a nuisance. I've only encountered people on the river a couple times, and they were totally cool.

I took my kids fishing on the river a few months ago. We didn't catch anything, but they had a blast. I flew my wife out before that, she loved it. There's a BBQ joint that has a field behind their restaurant, we like to fly in there and have lunch. I've landed at some grass strips owned by friends, that's really fun. One of the cool things about having a plane is using it like a car.....you want to go somewhere, just hop in the plane and fly over. This is also why I don't bother with flight plans.....I'm not on a schedule, and I don't necessarily have any particular route in mind.

I'm fortunate to have a wife who is in full support of all this craziness. I may be a "bad" influence, however...I'm at a point where I'm willing to spend just about any amount to keep flying, even if it means underfunding retirement/savings etc. :) I gotta say we have been able to keep it pretty affordable, but there have been moments. One year I had to overhaul 4 cylinders and my prop....annual inspection ended up costing around $9k. Last year was better, only $1400. Some good advice I once heard about owning a plane: you need to be in a position where you can get your hands on $5k pretty easily at any time without wrecking your finances. My plane got trashed by crazy Oklahoma winds/storms last month, so I more or less cleaned out our non-investment cash to buy another (not as bad as it sounds, I found a smokin' deal).

I have contacts who can hook you up with intro flights and flight training in several different aircraft types. I'd be happy to take you flying myself as soon as I'm back in the air (I'm picking up the plane and doing an annual in two weeks). I'll PM you more details.

Matt
 

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John6185

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I had a secretary in the AF that had a son who some years later joined the AF and went through Officer Training School where I was stationed. He was a tall fellow and had excessive sitting height and was disqualified for pilot training. So he elected to be discharged rather than be a ground officer. Later in life, I contacted this secretary and her sone had never married because if he had, he knew his wife would never allow him to enjoy his expensive hobby-flying. He has his own plane and a glider and took his 92 year old mother for a glider flight. And she enjoyed every minute.

If you are retired military, you might check into some of the flying clubs on AF bases, they are quite reasonable.
 

jakeman

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My comment "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" was not totally in jest ... it certainly was not meant to be smart aleck. I have my Private SEL ... got it back in the 70's. It got to where I couldn't even afford to rent. Of course, I was trying to go to school and raise a family at the same time. My FIL was an A&P with IA. I would occasionally assist him with licensing aircraft, annual inspections, etc. He and a friend had a sideline business for many years, buying gently wrecked aircraft, rebuilding them, flying them for a while, then selling them and buying another one to start the process all over again. They made that work, but if the cost is coming directly out of your pocket, do your homework very diligently. As has been said, go take a discovery flight with an instructor. If you still think it's what you want, start working on that license. You may take to it like a duck to water. Or, you may decide it's not for you. I haven't flown in years. Good luck with whatever you decide!
#metoo
 

jakeman

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Oh you've hit a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I'm an active pilot and have owned a plane since 2019. I also fly off-airport, along with several other friends. Flying is absolutely the best activity/addiction I've gotten into. I've been around it since I was a kid, and I love it. You have received some good advice here, but I also sense some generalized scare-talk regarding time/money/skills required. Let's get a couple things out of the way:

Avgas is around $5/gal right now. But there are plenty of planes (including mine) that are perfectly happy on non-ethanol car gas (87 is fine), including that Kitfox you mentioned. Fuel burn on a Kitfox (for instance) will be around 5 or 6 gallons per hour. So maybe $20/hr on car gas. Keep in mind it's actually lower sometimes if you're doing a lot of takeoff/landing practice, as you spend a lot of time at very reduced power settings.

Don't shop on Trade-A-Plane. That's the high-rent district. Check out Barnstormers.com, and also Facebook groups. I paid $18k for my Stinson 108 in 2019, that's a very capable 4-seater. Prices are up since then, but there are still deals to be had. Look at the old tube-and-fabric tailwheel models. An Aeronca Champ is a good 2-seat option that is right at home in the backcountry, especially with some big tires fitted. It's also pure bliss to fly. They can still be had for under $30k. Other options would be the Pacer, some Cubs, Rans, Taylorcraft, older Kitfoxes, Citabria.

Some of the ancillary costs discussed here are non-factors. Landing fees: only at a few big airports....I've been all over the US and have never encountered this. Subscriptions: you don't need them. Download a free moving-map app for your phone or tablet and go fly. I've flown all over the US with just a phone, tablet (sometimes) and a free nav app called Avare. But you can get a "premium" app for under $200/year if you want fancy features or just like giving money away.

There is no legal requirement to have insurance of any sort, though your local airport might require some basic liability coverage. That's all I have. Last year was around $360, which is the highest it's been.

Going off-airport is not THAT hard. Assuming 5 to 10 years of experience before you can start doing this sort of flying is absurd. There's no reason a competent CFI can't get you into the basics even as part of your primary training, in fact you'll end up a better pilot for it. The guy in that brown plane in my pics only got his tailwheel training the year before (though, to be fair, he logged like 100 hours in the past year, so he's flying a lot). I just crossed the 500hr mark myself.

Flight plans: not required for the type of flying you're talking about. You don't have to tell anyone where you're going.

I started landing on sandbars last year. My Stinson is not a bushplane per se, and I don't have big tires or a hotrod engine. I've found multiple places to land on the Canadian river, not far from the OKC metro. The sandbar in the attached pics is between Purcell and Ada. It's huge, I estimate over 1700ft usable. The people with the other two planes in the pic had never landed on a sandbar at all. The guy with the brown Cessna 120 was bone-stock with tiny wheels (600's). He struggled a bit, but was able to land and takeoff safely. It's not rocket science, but most pilots in the US have never known anything but huge strips of clear pavement with no obstacles around. Getting away from the pampered environment of an airport brings in a whole new set of risks and considerations. But it's just another skill set to develop, nothing crazy. Once you do it a few times, airports will suddenly start looking very "optional". :) And Oklahoma is a good sandbox for learning off-airport ops, as we are at low elevation, and it's pretty flat. I've also done some backcountry flying in Arkansas, which is a little more interesting with the mountains. I've done the airplane camping thing in Arkansas, that's a hoot! Probably going again this year. Some of my buddies camp out on the river, which I'll probably do once the weather warms up a bit.

I personally find the unique challenges and procedures of backcountry ops totally fun and engaging. It's something to embrace, not be afraid of (respectful, for sure, but not afraid). It will grow you as a pilot.

As to the legality of landing in random places, it depends a lot on your state. Oklahoma doesn't seem to have a lot of restrictions. Remember, sandbars/gravel bars on rivers are generally part of "navigable waterways", so they are pretty much fair game. Plus, one of the goals of backcountry flying is to get to places that are not easily accessible by other means, so....who's gonna bother you out there anyway? :) Wherever you go, be a good neighbor, respect others, share the land. I've passed spots up before because there were people too close by. Be mindful of your noise around houses and livestock, don't be a nuisance. I've only encountered people on the river a couple times, and they were totally cool.

I took my kids fishing on the river a few months ago. We didn't catch anything, but they had a blast. I flew my wife out before that, she loved it. There's a BBQ joint that has a field behind their restaurant, we like to fly in there and have lunch. I've landed at some grass strips owned by friends, that's really fun. One of the cool things about having a plane is using it like a car.....you want to go somewhere, just hop in the plane and fly over. This is also why I don't bother with flight plans.....I'm not on a schedule, and I don't necessarily have any particular route in mind.

I'm fortunate to have a wife who is in full support of all this craziness. I may be a "bad" influence, however...I'm at a point where I'm willing to spend just about any amount to keep flying, even if it means underfunding retirement/savings etc. :) I gotta say we have been able to keep it pretty affordable, but there have been moments. One year I had to overhaul 4 cylinders and my prop....annual inspection ended up costing around $9k. Last year was better, only $1400. Some good advice I once heard about owning a plane: you need to be in a position where you can get your hands on $5k pretty easily at any time without wrecking your finances. My plane got trashed by crazy Oklahoma winds/storms last month, so I more or less cleaned out our non-investment cash to buy another (not as bad as it sounds, I found a smokin' deal).

I have contacts who can hook you up with intro flights and flight training in several different aircraft types. I'd be happy to take you flying myself as soon as I'm back in the air (I'm picking up the plane and doing an annual in two weeks). I'll PM you more details.

Matt


Where did you get your Stenson?

My old boss sold a red/white one about ‘19. He paid more for the annual & MOH than he did for the plane n about 17 or 18. His plane was based in NTX somewhere.
 

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