Frugal pilots KISS: Keep it safe and simple

It is great to be a part of the general aviation community where pilots share their ideas to help each other with knowledge and kindness. I especially like to see the many helpful frugal tips offered online from readers of my column. They add their own proven experiences that helped them fly more while spending less.

For example, many readers have responded with information on their own tax laws after last month’s tip on Reducing Taxes. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Keep your frugal tips coming. Email me at dan@frugalpilot.com. [Read more…]

Calling all frugal pilots: What are your secrets?

Dan's plane, "Goofy," taking off from the Willits Municipal Airport (www.WillitsAirport.com) which I manage. It's the most fun you can have without a prescription! ;-)

Frugal pilots aren’t cheap or unsafe. Their buying and flying decisions are based on getting the greatest value for each aviation dollar spent, not on squeezing every dollar until Washington yelps.

Frugal pilots aren’t poor. They may or may not be financially rich, but they do know the significance of money and that a dollar saved wisely can be a dollar spent on more avgas or iPhones or retirement.

Frugal pilots aren’t alone. There are many thousands of us who fly comfortably within a budget for a variety of good reasons: To go somewhere, to go nowhere, to see the world from above, to discover ourselves, to share recreation, to overcome fears, and/or to build an aviation career.

At my airport, I hear many stories from grinning pilots who started out mowing lawns, washing airplanes, or taking on a second job to afford flying lessons. Over the years, these veteran pilots have logged thousands of hours in their owned or co-owned aircraft by being frugal — and safe.

What are their secrets?

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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.

[Read more…]