When you are looking for a partner to share an airplane, you better know that person fairly well. You’re about to embark on an expensive journey. If your personalities, flying and communication styles don’t mesh, you’re in for a world of hurt.
“I wanted someone who is aviation competent, has the money to meet operating costs and an interest and willingness to make improvements and modifications to the aircraft as technology improves,” says Peter Morton of Seatlle.
He was fortunate to find these qualities in his best friend, Del Fadden. Both men are retired engineers from Boeing. They have co-owned a Cirrus SR20 since 1999.
“He is also a superb pilot and we enjoy flying together in a crew environment,” Morton says. “It does not get any better than that.”
“Certainly the top of the list of criteria for me was a partner with many shared interests and with whom I enjoy sharing both the fun and the work of airplane ownership,” adds Fadden. “When partners are truly friends first and value that friendship above the business, then the issues that inevitably arise are easily resolved.”
There was a third partner, both men note, but he moved away, so they bought his share. They’ve been looking for a replacement partner, but haven’t found one yet.
According to Morton, they chose to use an attorney to create a company and have the company lease the aircraft to Wings Aloft, a flying club at King County International Airport/Boeing Field in Seattle.
“Creating a company is an essential liability protection device,” he says. “It is also an important tax strategy element since the airplane is being used as a business.”
The airplane — 365DP, which stands for 365 Days of Pleasure for Dale and Peter — also is a testbed for new technology. Both men were part of flight deck design at Boeing and are very interested in how those advances can be applied in the GA market.
When they see or hear about a new technology, they discuss it to see if they want to add it to their airplane.
For example, when Fadden worked with Sandel Avionics to help the company format its new horizontal situation indicator, he and Morton decided to add the unit to their airplane.
“The SN3308 EHSI was just becoming available,” Fadden recalls, “and we wanted to get it into the Cirrus airplane. We knew that the Klapmeiers (the founders of Cirrus Design Corp.) also wanted the display in the airplane.”
During a visit to EAA AirVenture in 2000, Fadden and Morton got the principals of Cirrus and Sandel together to discuss the idea of installing the unit in the Cirrus. The “reasonably complex” installation involves an autopilot, a Garmin GPS and a new directional gyro, according to Fadden.
The two good friends don’t have any conflict deciding whose turn it is to fly their Cirrus. It’s determined on a first come, first served basis. If the plane is being used, the FBO has several other Cirrus that can be flown by one of the partners.