Crafting a flying club agreement

Many thousands of frugal pilots continue to fly because of flying clubs. These clubs typically include a wide variety of pilots and at least two aircraft, bringing down the price of going up by sharing the costs of plane ownership and operation.

Just as there are many types of pilots, there are many ways flying club agreements can be structured to meet the needs of a nest of persnickety pilots and aircraft owners. [Read more…]

Flying club basics

Sharing your wings is a big decision. The goal is to reduce the costs to gain the greatest benefits from flying. Exactly what, how, and why you share your wings offers so many variations and opportunities that there is no single solution.

Previously in The Frugal Pilot, we’ve covered the basics of deciding whether a co-ownership or partnership fits you, then offered ideas on how to write up a workable agreement for sharing. The third option, starting or joining a flying club, offers even more options — and potential problems. Let’s take a closer look.

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Sharing your wings

For many frugal pilots, sharing their wings makes a lot of sense. Most private pilots fly less than 1% of the available hours in a year, often not enough time to keep their aircraft from suffering from inactivity. Add another pilot or two and the plane actually stays in better condition —and the costs go down.

But the big question isn’t so much should you share your wings, but how?

Obviously, it’s not a thorough analogy, but sharing wings is somewhat like sharing a life in marriage: The partnership can either be twice as good or twice as bad as going it alone.

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The simplest way to share wings

You’ve decided to consider sharing your wings. Good for you! Like sharing a life, sharing an asset can benefit numerous people and allow them to potentially do more than going it alone.

But it also can complicate life. Making a logical decision about co-ownership can help you get more for your flying investment.

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Renting vs. owning

For many private pilots, renting makes more sense than buying an airplane. The ongoing costs of compliance, maintenance, and storage — added to the rising costs of fuel — can bring the hourly cost of flying your own aircraft within the range of renting one.

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The Frugal Pilot: Multitask flying

The retail price of avgas continues to climb with fewer refineries supplying it. Aircraft parts, never cheap, increase in cost each year. Smaller airports close and larger airports raise hangar rents. Fewer private pilots are flying today than 10years ago, reducing economy of scale. Flying is getting too dang expensive.

However, flying remains an unrivaled pastime. It literally offers a third dimension over two-dimensional recreation, such as boating, motorcycling, and RVing.

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The Frugal Pilot: Barter and trade

If your flying budget is tight — like mine — there are many ways to cut your flying costs without spending a lot of money. You can borrow, rent, trade or barter for some of the things you need.

Not everything aviation can be exchanged this way, but there are some — and each can save you money to buy more fun-fuel.

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Learn from smarter pilots

We pilots typically don’t like to admit it, but some pilots are smarter than we are — at least on some topics. The aim of the frugal pilot is to learn something useful from more experienced pilots and aircraft owners.

Here are some suggestions on how to get good answers: [Read more…]

The Frugal Notebook

Every owner-pilot should have a Frugal Notebook. It’s a blank book you can keep in the glove box or your flight bag to record things about your airplane. If you are a renter, it’s a handy place to record your experiences with specific aircraft and flying conditions.

Let’s take a look at a few of the things your Frugal Notebook can help with:

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