As a result of my recent columns about cost of operation, I was asked if I had a “magic formula” for my calculating those costs. No, there is no magic formula. Certainly some “educated guesswork” has to be employed where specific numbers are not available, but there is nothing magic about it. So, for this issue, I will share my chart for determining actual or anticipated cost of operation.
In the last issue, I addressed how many pilots are also SCUBA enthusiasts, and how flying to dive destinations can satisfy both interests in one trip. I also mentioned that I would soon be returning to the Bahamas to try out a new destination, once I figured out where that would be. The excellent response I received from that column only enforced my belief of the flying-diving connection.
What better way to end another great year of traveling in my Cardinal RG than a December business trip to Canada? (Yeah, I know, a better way might have been a trip to the Bahamas.) Wheels up from my Rowan County, N.C., airport (RUQ) base at 1 p.m., with an OAT of 55°, and 3.5 flying hours later (and a 35° temperature drop) I’m landing after a back-course localizer approach in snow at the Waterloo Airport in Kitchener, Ontario.
In my April column, I addressed the dilemma many inexperienced aircraft purchasers encounter when they consider only the purchase price of a used plane but not the associated operating costs that go along with it. The trap, as stated in my article, is that for an arbitrary $50,000 purchase price, a buyer could obtain either a 1977 Cessna 172 or a 1960 Cessna 210. Each would have about the same airframe time, half of the engine time used up since overhaul, and decent but not state-of–the–art avionics. The point was that the purchase price is an attractive lure for the 210, with all its extra room, speed, load carrying ability and climb. But what hurts so many owners is the considerable amount of extra money it takes to run one of these bigger, older, higher performance singles, or even twins.
For my wife, it had been one of those miserable weeks. By Friday, she was stressed to the max, being driven nuts by her job as a commercial property manager. In contrast, it was a pretty good week for me. It was day five of my seven-day-off cycle in my work as an EMS helicopter pilot. I spent the entire five days holed up in my video-editing suite completing an aviation safety video and I was ready for a change of pace. Time to go flying. I wanted to give my wife a mini-vacation to a surprise destination. But where?
Southerners have a long-standing reputation for being friendly.
In addition to literally hundreds of airplane sales transactions I have been involved with over the past 28 years, my current 1974 Cardinal RG is the 17th aircraft I have personally owned. A couple of airplanes (a ’69 Cardinal and a ’75 310R) I owned less than a year. These were bought with the plan of refurbishing and then reselling, although I flew them some during the process.
After all of the “new” airplanes I have flown for evaluation since the mid ’90s, it sure is refreshing finally to report to you on one that really is new and exciting through and through, and not just updated with high-tech avionics or new leather trim. In fact, strip the panel clean of radios, replace the leather seats with mesh, and the Lancair Columbia 300 still would be worthy of being called really new.
I suspect many of the aviators who will venture to Lakeland for this year’s Sun ’n Fun might have “airplane hunting” on their agenda. Hey, everybody wants to own an airplane, but many pilots are still in the dreaming stages. There are those, however, who have reached a point where they can afford to buy their own.
When you see the statement, “Flying versus Driving”, what is your first thought? For most, the obvious comparisons of time, fun, and convenience of general aviation flying to the alternative of driving probably come to mind first. But this time my intention is different. I want to discuss the mechanics of flying and suggest that all too often, pilots stop “flying” their aircraft and fall into a mode of just “driving” their aircraft. Go sit in view of a general aviation runway for an hour or so and you’ll see what I mean.