Introduction and knowledge seeking
Kevin Scott
14 Posts
Hello follow members. I'm new to this site as well as learning to fly. Having recently retired I'm moving forward on a dream I had little time for in my working life. Now, free of the day to day grind this old dog wants to learn a few new tricks. As of this point I have a grand total of 4 whole flight hours, impressive I know. I maybe wanting to move to quickly but I have been plowing the web for aircraft to buy. While I know generally you get what you pay for I still need to keep things within limits my wife can live with. That being say I have been looking at Pipers Arrows and Archers, Cessna 172's but mostly Mooney M20's. As for price I'm holding the line of 80K or less. What I'd like is to pick some of the brain power of those who know the real processes of pre-purchase inspection, purchase processes cost of ownership. Ideally I'd like to buy an IFR Cert. and update cockpit and ready to fly. While that's my wish list I'm realistic enough to know my price point makes that tough to attain. 

So, if any of you would be willing to set this old dog on the correct track with some imparted wisdom, I'd be ever so thank full
30 Replies
Also . . . for what it's worth, planes are generally appreciating assets, so will will likely recoup some costs when you sell. 
Yes, I was basically a babe in the woods.  No flight experience.   Frankly, in my opinion, learning to fly in what you intend to use can't  be a bad thing.  The Comanche was no more challenging than the 172.  Different yes, but both had their own idiosyncrasies that had to be learned.   Staying ahead of the plane was more interesting, but these are the same skills any pilot would have to familiarize themselves with transitioning into a different plane.  Insurance for a new pilot in a retractable typically requires flight time with a CFI with relevant experience in the same make / model.  I had to have 5 hours, but I've heard others with higher requirements.  I also had to have a minimum amount of hours solo before I could carry passengers.   Insurance the first year (when insurance was reasonable) was about $2500.  It went down to $1800 as I build hours but with last years industry-wide hikes, jumped back up to $2400.  With aviation insurance, you pick the hull value and insurance rates reflect that value.  A prop strike will cost at least $55000 (with a Lycoming 6 cylinder) and most insurance (it gets complicated) will total the plane at 80% of insured hull value.  Fuel burn (11-14 gph in my plane) at 200 mph equates to a cost of $60/hour but I cover a lot of ground.  Comparable to 12-14 mpg in a car but arrive in 1/3 the time.  I may have missed it in this thread, but the first thing you should do is determine why you want a plane (mission).  If you are only doing weekend breakfast runs within 50-60 miles and want to bring a friend, you don't need a high performance retractable complex aircraft.   If you plan to fly regularly (every couple of weeks) distances of 100+ miles each way with at least one passenger and baggage, then you will never be happy in a 4 cylinder fixed gear aircraft (with some exceptions - mostly experimentals).  Speaking of experimentals, don't rule them out if they match your mission.  Much more economical than certified aircraft.   Finally, ADs and annual costs are specific to aircraft.   My ADs (due every 100 hours) cost about $200 total and are done while I wait.  The 'big' AD that scares everyone away from Comanches is the 1000 hour AD (about 10-12 years) and usually costs under $3000 - but if neglected in the past (as was mine), can get expensive ($6000-$14000).   I have friends with a Cessna 172 RG (retractable) and a Cessna T210 (Turbo).    These both had hydraulic failures with their gear and repairs were b/w $12000-$20000 (both sides on the RG), so don't let ADs scare you away from a good plane.   Engines have time limits ("TBOs" not mandatory).   2000 hours for mine - and a rebuild is currently about $50k.    If treated properly the engine will last well beyond the TBO.   Costs to consider:  Hangar, airport fees, annual inspections ($500-$3000 depending on aircraft), insurance, fuel ( avg. cost in SOCAL is about $4.50 - $5.00 gal.  I have 90 gallon tanks good for 1200 miles or 5 hours),upgrades (very tempting.  A new 'glass' panel can set you back $50,000 before you know it).  Finally, a pitch for Comanches attached.  You can get into a decent 250/260 for under $80,000.  About $30,000 less for a 180.
Kevin Scott
14 Posts
Hello Mr. Ernie James

Thanks for jumping in here. I'd like to know if you were a babe in the woods, like me or did you have some experience (ie. friends that fly)
As my prior post stated, I was thinking of doing much as you have done. All be it would have likely been a Mooney M20 or at least that was until Ron put me on the scent of a Tiger. Most everyone has posted advise against me buying an aircraft before getting my PC. You brought with you issues I'd like to know more about An's, AD's,100hr, Insurance etc. First, let me say 700 hrs. in 4 yrs. wow, if that just for pleasure, you are aloft more often then your feet are on the ground. Can you and or others give me a general idea of shocking cost of insurance here. I have a BMW s1000RR which cost me 2k a year to cover and that's with a good driving record and home owners and multi-car discount. So, a ball park of shocking is not helpful. Hangers are hard to get info. on around here availability and pricing. Seems the state controls all the airports, no privately owned ones to my knowledge. Heck, I can't even get a clear answer about sales/use tax, is it one time or like my property/car taxes annual?

To be honest I'm starting to get a bit dismayed on the whole idea, will the cost and hassle be worst it. Do I need to pack up and move South or West, because the Northeast is looking not so aircraft friendly. I've tried to ask question of the CFI's at the school but, they are of little help in this regard. They are all 30 somethings guys and transplants from other states. None, own aircraft and the owner of the school is hard to get him to stand still long enough to ask him much of anything. While, I like the posts and responses I get here on the forum, I guess what I real need and want is some people to talk to directly, who have knowledge and or know where to get the answers.  
I started flying at age 60 and when I had about 20 hours bought a Piper Comanche 260.   Finished my training and working on IFR in the 260.   No regrets and wouldn't have done it any other way.   4 years later and 700 hours.  I agree with the comments on cost of ownership.  Annuals, maintenance, ADs (almost all Comanches have these permanently resolved, the major one bring the gear AD about every 10 years and usually less than $4k), hangar rental and insurance.   Insurance these days for a low hour pilot in a complex retractable can be shocking.

Ronald Levy
1147 Posts
There are substantial aerodynamic and structural differences between a Tiger and a Traveler.  Roy LoPresti completely redesigned the empennage and the nose as well as replacing the 150HP O-320 with a 180HP O-360 (which entailed redesigning the engine compartment and going to a bigger prop) to turn the Traveler into a Tiger.