General Aviation News columnist Dan Johnson recently wrote about LSAs vs. Cessna 150s. The post discusses the pros and cons of a new Light-Sport Aircraft versus the venerable Cessna 150. Dan was a long-time 150 owner and is “the man” when it comes to new LSAs, so he’s as much an expert on both — at the same time — that any of us could hope to find.
Suffice it to say, neither a brand-new LSA or a 30-year-old 150 is the perfect airplane for everyone. The comments quickly evolved into most “cost-effective” and most “expensive” arguments. Very black and white, which makes no sense to me.
Like everyone, I wish new aircraft — LSA or otherwise — carried lower price tags. Alas, they don’t. But I’ve grown weary of the “new LSAs are too expensive” argument. Affordability is relative. Some can afford a new CTLS, while others can afford an 1/8-share of an Aeronca Champ.
In either case: GREAT! Aircraft ownership is shades of grey. And as pilots, we are supposed to have a keen situational awareness, yet so many become quickly myopic.
Everything in aviation is a trade-off, so the discussion should be a personal in nature. An aspiring pilot should be asking themselves (among other questions) what kind of plane do I want to learn in? That answer is entirely personal. Some will be drawn to the romance of yesteryear and a J-3 or Aeronca; others will get a charge out of learning in a glass panel-equipped CT from Flight Design. For either student, the plane that motivates them to spend every free moment flying, learning about flying, reading about flying, or studying about flying is the right plane for them.
Flying means different things to different people. Some want to justify ownership for business purposes. Some just want to own a plane for pure recreating. Breaking down the finances on someone else’s choice is foolhardy at best, and can be downright offensive at worst.
Like boats or motorcycles or RVs, there are many sizes, shapes and colors of airplanes. Thankfully.
The simple answer, for me at least, is a person just has to WANT to own an airplane. For those who can afford to buy a new [insert aircraft here], the pull, I believe, is the intangible. How do you quantify meeting with clients in three different cities and still being able to make your kid’s soccer game that night? (I know, cliche, but still apt.) For those who own a 65-year-old J-3 Cub, it’s no different than owning a collector car or motorcycle or boat. You want it. You may not golf or ski. This plane is your drug of choice.
So, let’s get off the subject of “affordability” in general aviation. For those saving up for that 1/8-share of a Champ, I say bravo. For those desiring a new CTLS or Cirrus, fantastic. To both I ask, can I have a ride?
I don’t much care what you fly, how much it costs you or what you do when flying. I’m just thrilled you do. That’s what we need — aviators.
Ben Sclair is Publisher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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