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.
One of the pluses of owning your own aircraft is you have the opportunity to really get to know the machine, its characteristics, and its quirks. The operative word here is “opportunity.” Just because you own the aircraft doesn’t automatically mean you will be any more aware of its operating parameters than a rental aircraft. You must be willing and able to take advantage of the ownership opportunity and put forth the effort.
As a Cessna C177 Cardinal RG owner, I belong to a “type-club” called Cardinal Flyers Online. As the name implies, the organization depends heavily on the benefits of the Internet, although the organization’s reach is far greater. One of the major attractions of membership is the near daily e-mail digest that acts as a forum for the membership to discuss a multitude of issues regarding Cardinals.
When looking to buy a used airplane, the usual route is to scan trade papers, magazines, classifieds, etc., for the initial search.
The single most consistent mistake I see first-time owners make is that they buy too much airplane. Learning about airplane buying should be like learning about airplane flying. For example, let’s say you know that your goal is to be the pilot of a corporate, twin-engine airplane. You still go to school and learn to fly in a small single engine plane. Then, as you gain experience, you can move up to the twin. Yes, I realize that you could learn right off the bat in the twin, but only the most affluent could afford that. And not withstanding money, it would also be a formidable undertaking to use that approach.
The twin-turbine Bell 412 helicopter I fly for Baptist Hospital in North Carolina sucks a lot of Jet-A. This is why when we land at FBOs, the line crews have big smiles.
Ask someone what comes to mind when the state of Texas is mentioned and the answers will surely be varied: Cowboys (both real and football players), Dallas (both the city and former TV show), the Alamo, cattle, oil, you choose.
Do you remember the days before digital watches or clocks? When we were asked for the time, the answer usually would be something like “It’s almost 2:30” or “About 1:15.” Then came digital timekeeping and the answers became “2:28” or “1:13.”
The final part of my series on upgrading the avionics in my Cardinal RG is elsewhere in this issue. For as many aircraft as I have owned over the past 27 years, this was my first experience in a complete avionics upgrade for myself and, as you may recall, the decision to part with the cash and who got the cash didn’t come quickly. But it was one of those aircraft ownership experiences that I feel truly blessed for being capable of accomplishing.
For those of us who use general aviation to travel, conversations often come up comparing the use of our airplanes to the commercial airlines. This has become a major issue since Sept. 11 and the absolute mess the commercial airline system is in right now. The growth of fractional jet ownership organizations is one direct result. But what about small plane GA versus the airlines?