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Author Topic: Starter airplane  (Read 1414 times)

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Offline Dana

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Starter airplane
« on: January 09, 2018, 07:36:01 AM »
My 17 year old son had been working on his pilots license and recently got his student pilots license. Heís paying out of his own pocket for lessons and is going to have to buy his own plane.

Right now he found a 1970 Cessna 150 aerobat. It hasnít flown since 1994, is a barn find. We looked at it yesterday. Hereís what we found. Engine needs rebuild looks to be about $12000 for this. Windshield cracked. Tires dry rotted and flat. The son says the avionics need to be replaced.

Neither my son or myself can afford to buy a plane thatís good to go. So we are looking for one that is a project and can be worked on and completed as money is available.

The good news is I have a friend who is an a&p mechanic and has offered his help.
He isnít a pilot and is trying to talk us out of the 150 idea. Says they are underpowered at 100 hp and may not be able to fly out of our farm fieldon a hot summer day. He found a Maule that Fit the budget but it sold before we could contact the owner.

Anyone have experience with the 152? Whatís your thoughts? If this isnít the plane for him I guess we will keep looking.

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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 08:28:40 AM »
My father in law was a 30 year Army chopper pilot and then owned his own single plane commercial air service which he sold about two years ago.  He has his a+p and I have turned a lot of wrenches for him under his supervision. There were always other planes around when we were at the hangar and without a doubt he is not a fan of the 150. Like you said, way underpowered and I would not want to guess what upgrading the avionics would cost today. Frame inspection, that sounds like an optimistic estimate on the engine rebuild, etc. There is a reason she is rotting away in a barn.
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Offline DanG

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 10:05:25 AM »
Dana, look up a website called "Trade-a-Plane".  There are hundreds of planes advertised for sale there.  Even if you don't select one from there, you will get a good education on what is available for how much $.  Being an aviation junkie, I gaze and dream at that site a lot. That 152 doesn't sound like what he needs when he could be flying tomorrow for less money than it would cost to fix that one.  Leave the restoration to those who like to work on them.
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Offline pineywoods

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 10:53:45 AM »
There's other options. Go to www.EAA,org. Originally started as an association of people who build their own planes, either from plans or kits. Eaa has grown over the years and is now the largest aviation organization on the planet. Now includes homebuilts, antiques, warbirds, ultrlights, helicopters, and anything else that just might fly. A good starting point for anything aviation. I have been a member for over 40 years. And yes, it is perfectly legal to build your own plane. There are more homebuilts flying in the usa than there are commercial airliners.
Now about that cessna 150/152.. It's an entry level machine, and makes an excellent trainer. Good reason cessna has sold a bunch of them. Under powered? for some uses, yes, but, for it's intended purpose it's hard to beat
More pilots have done their flight training in them than any other type, Me and my wife included.
Got questions, feel free to pm me..

Addendum. In most cases, buying a plane to use for your flight training doesn't work out too well. Better to rent time in a trainer (probably a cessna 150). With ticket in hand, you'll have a much better idea of what to look for..
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Offline Papa1stuff

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 12:49:25 PM »
I once owned a Cessna 150 (1959) ,wish I still had it ,but I sold it before coming to Florida and it is in California and still flying !!
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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 01:18:34 PM »
I'm almost where your son is, just 4 decades older.  I've been looking at all sorts of planes and, like DanG, drooling over most of them.  One message that is slowly getting through to me is that the plane needs to match the mission.  If the mission is training for the private pilot's license, either with instructor or solo, the C150 is a great plane to fill that role.  If it lacks power on hot days due to high density altitude then you don't fly that day, or get up before dawn so that you can fly in the cool of the morning.  Buying the right plane is about making compromises, and if you're on a tight budget you'll likely have to make few more compromises.

Another recommendation that I'm coming to appreciate is that you're better off, both in time and cost, buying something that flies today over something that will take a significant amount of work to make airworthy.  Right now your son should be flying, not wrenching.  A restoration project like the barn find would be a heck of a lot of fun to bring back to life, but right now it's a project, not a plane.

The first thing I look at in considering various planes is the useful load.  That's the gross weight minus the empty weight.  The useful load includes fuel, so the way I look at it is how much weight can I carry after filling the tanks with fuel?  There's a Cessna 150M on Trade-a-Plane listing for $13K.  It has a gross weight of 1600 lbs, empty weight of 1104 lbs, and carries 26 gallons.  Allowing 156 lbs for fuel, the plane can carry 340 lbs in pilot and passenger.  If your son and his flight instructor are XL individuals, the plane may not be suitable for the mission of being a trainer plane.  Otherwise, the plane is ideal for training as it can carry two FAA regulation-sized adults.
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Offline Dana

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 01:39:53 PM »
Your right on about the weight and balance. Thereís 496 lbs usableweight for that model. Minus 163 lbs for 26 gal fuel leaves 333 lbs forpilot and passenger. He weighs around 200 as well as myself.
That means15 gal fuel max.
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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 03:21:56 PM »
A nice feature at Trade-a-Plane is the little gauge icon that lists performance specs.  Internet searches for specific models will give you links to additional performance data.  Sometimes they conflict, so always be a little circumspect with those numbers.  And a given plane may have an empty weight much higher than the factory number, due to instruments, modifications, repairs, etc.

There are likely dozens of candidate planes for sale within a few hours drive that aren't even listed on a web site yet.  But by searching online you both can get a feel for which planes meet your needs.  I mentioned TaP, but there is Controller.com and Barnstormers.com as well.  Plus many other sites, some more local than the big web sites.  On some sites you can list all planes by a manufacturer, then sort by price.  So you can find out real quick which models are selling in your price range.

If you go to some of the aviation forums, you'll see lots of advice to get a pre-buy inspection before closing a deal.  That's an extra cost that will be worth it in making sure your son doesn't buy an aircraft that can't be flown or becomes an economic millstone around his neck.  When I get to the point of buying, I'm going to require the plane to have a current annual inspection before I even consider making an offer.  This is in addition to a pre-buy inspection.  You want the pre-buy done by your mechanic, not someone chosen by the seller.

Edit to add: Sorry to drone one, it's just a topic I'm very interested in.  If you've got a supportive A&P mechanic friend then it may be almost economical to buy a project rather than a plane.  But repairing or restoring an airplane is much more costly than restoring an old car.   All work needs to be signed off by an A&P, which usually means it's done by one or done by the owner in the A&P mechanic's shop.  Were I in your son's shoes I'd focus on saving as much as possible and looking for an operational plane or one that needs minimal work to become airworthy.  Take lots of time but be ready to act quickly when the right plane is available.
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Offline scsmith42

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 07:42:08 PM »
You might want to look for an older 170 instead.  I had one that I sold a couple of years back; they are a nice, inexpensive 4 place with gentle flight characteristics.
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Offline Stuart Caruk

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 08:06:37 PM »
Hands down... go buy the 150 aerobat. I've got several hundred hours in both them and the 152 from years ago. The 152 gear sucks, it wiggles around, goes in and out and all over. THe 150 has spring steel gear that does what you expect.

It's the aerobat part that is the best. Yes, a 150 aerobat only has 100 hp, but properly managed that airplane can fly the entire Sportsman series. I taught many hundreds of hours of aerobatics in one, and it's an honest airplane capable of a lot of things. It spins great, snap rolls just as well, loops with a full snap at the top are cakewalk, cuban eights like a dream. If you pull the mixture and stall the aircraft to stop the prop from turning, then stay under 130 mph, you can fly most inverted maneuver. You simply need to work on conserving your energy. The skills you learn flying aerobatics will serve you well throughout your career. I can think of a handful of times where knowing how to get myself out of a situtaion made the result a non event.
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Offline starmac

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 08:18:47 PM »
I do not think any one has ask, but what is his end goal for an airplane, I know you said starter plane, but wouldn't the end goal have a bearing on choices?
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Offline Dana

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 08:41:45 PM »
I believe his end goal is simply to fly as a hobby. He has mentioned going to the upper peninsula of Michigan to fish. That sort of thing.
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Offline MartyParsons

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 09:22:27 PM »
Hello,
   I have been dreaming / thinking about owning a plane vs renting. I can rent a 1956 Cessna 182A a with 230 hp for $ 150 per hour wet. Every time I think wow I can own a plane and think about the cost of everything I think renting is better at this point. The owner of the plane keeps it ready to fly. I love it. Total time for me is 175 hours and 400 take off and landings. The owner / CFI would tell me it would be better if I purchased a plane while I was doing the training but I could not see any value. I kept running into the same issues with engine replacement TBO and the list keeps getting more costly on used airplanes. Owner of the 182 purchased it for $40,000 and put another $ 40,000 for repairs. He now has a real nice 182A. It needed no engine work and has the constant speed prop. Most of the repairs were in the electrical system and a new dash, no new equipment just some new panel parts.
   Glad your son is starting young, there is so much to learn. All the different Apps like Foreflight etc. makes it much easier and safer.
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Offline Stuart Caruk

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2018, 03:18:34 PM »
If you fly less than a couple hundred hours a year, it's almost always cheaper to rent.

However, if you are a new pilot looking to get a commercial license, buying a cheap aircraft to timebuild on is not a bad idea. Buying an aerobatic aircraft to practice aerobatics while to build time instead of simply boring holes in the sky is an even better idea.
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Offline james

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2018, 11:09:17 PM »
or you can pick up a lightsport kit, build it your self and maintain it your self for 25-40 k depending on just what you want good way to build hours as long as it has a n number

Offline coalsmok

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 06:24:40 AM »
Just nosed around on the sites mentioned. Think I will stick to farming and sawmills.  Thatís a lot of cash to get into a hobby.

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 02:39:36 AM »
Ya, although not so far off from a hydro sawmill or a nice tractor.  At least not the planes I'm looking at. 

$40k can get you:
 - a brand new Woodmizer LT50 portable sawmill,
 - a low hours John Deere 4052R tractor with cab and loader, or
 - a 1966 Cessna 172G Skyhawk with a mere 5,491 hours total time on the airframe.

Seems to me you just pick your poison.  ;D
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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 03:20:17 AM »
Any of the above options is better than pishing it away in a beer hall.
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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2018, 06:29:35 AM »
Hobbies cost money,but they are fun to do.
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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2018, 11:56:37 PM »
A good value for you training and afterwards would be a flying club. They usually have deceant equipment, flightime is reasonable. Check them out I flew a Twin Otter for many years on scheduled flights and was a CFI. The low price for the 152 might seem enticing but you're going to run into a lot of expences you won't figure on. Good luck flying, be safe and most of all don't push your LIMITS !!!
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2018, 08:50:24 AM »
Someone mentioned looking at EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). I'll second that:  If you are building or restoring an aircraft, especially for the first time, you don't want to do it without the resources this organization can provide. While they still have Building/restoring and aircraft as one focus, they have expanded well beyond that.

Another great organization to check out with a whole lot of resources on learning to fly and buying an aircraft is AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association). Much less emphasis on building and restoring, and more on flying, learning to fly, and ownership issues. Here is their section on aircraft and ownership. Here's a great section on learning to fly. Also check out the "Student" section.

As far as buying, there are a several ways to go: I rented, since I was not sure what my long-term plans were. No need to pick the perfect aircraft for your long-term plans, maintenance, storage, annual inspections are not your responsibility (though as pilot in command, you are always responsible for checking that these things have been done and the aircraft is ready to fly). The maintenance thing can be more of a hassle for a new pilot on a budget than you might think: if you are renting, and the plane goes down for maintenance, you might be grounded, unless there is another available to rent. If you own, not only do you have to pay for the maintenance, you are grounded until you come up with the funds and the work is completed - or your get to pay for those repairs AND pay for renting another aircraft.

Buy an aircraft. There are a couple ways to go about this: buy the aircraft you think you want long-term, or buy an aircraft to train in, then sell it when you are done, and get what you really want. When I was working on my Flight Instructor's certificate (CFI), a couple of student pilots in the flight school pitched in to buy a Piper 140. It was old, small, and slow, but it got the job done for their training. They were fortunate that they found one in decent shape and negotiated a good price on it. 6 months after they got their Private Pilot certificate, they sold the plane (for just about the same price they bought it) and bought something bigger.

Take in a partner on a plane. Most aircraft are grossly under-utilized. They spend most of their time sitting idle. Having someone (that you trust and get along with) to split the costs can make a lot of sense. It does not have to be your best friend, in fact, it doesn't have to be a "friend" at all (many a friendship has been put to the test over disagreements on how the plane should be maintained, paid for, flown and/or scheduled). It should be someone you respect and whose judgement you trust. AOPA has a lot of good info about aircraft partnerships.

Join a flying club (as someone has already mentioned). A great way to share costs, and depending on the club, you may have access to more than one aircraft. It's also a great way to get exposure to a group of people who know something about flying and owning an aircraft. I would guess that this is probably the least expensive way to learn to fly. AOPA has a whole program trying to promote flying clubs and can provide sample articles/operating agreements for a club, if you are trying to form your own. However, the easiest is to find an existing club at an airport that is convenient to you.
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2018, 09:00:39 AM »
Forgot to mention: as a student pilot, you can get a free 6 month membership to AOPA and a subscription to their "Flight Training" magazine. The magazine is well written, and very useful for student pilots, and has some articles applicable to pilots working on more other  certificates and ratings. The membership also gives you access to a lot of AOPA's other resources, which are not available to non-members. Your flight instructor can sign you up for it, or you may be able to find a sign-up on their website. When I was instructing regularly, I would always sign up all of my students for this.
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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2018, 09:14:42 AM »
A rule of thumb that was common when I was shopping for a plane: If you are flying less than 100 hours per year, it's cheaper to rent. If you are above 100 hours per year, it's cheaper to own. I ran across that rule of thumb a lot in the late 1990's, when we were shopping for a plane. I'm not sure if it still holds true

100 hours may not sound like a lot, but unless you are actively training for your initial certificate or for an advance one, or if you fly in connection for work, most people don't hit this number. (My busiest year was 300 hours: I was working on my commercial and instrument rating, and was a 5+ hour flight away from my wife at the time). I had a number of years where my wife (also a pilot) and I combined flew about 150 hours. In recent years, we have not even come close to the 100 hour mark.
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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2018, 10:12:26 AM »
X2,X3 on John Mc's post. I highly recommend joining EAA. WWW.eaa.org. I have been a member for close to 45 years. Eaa started out as a self help group for home-builders and has grown over the years, now the largest aviation organization on the planet, and now includes interest groups for everything from hang gliders to corp jets. A real introduction to the world of home-built/antique planes. Every year, the last week of july is the annual EAA convention and fly-in at oshkosh, wi. Every pilot should attend at least once. Over 10,000 airplanes along with owners/restorers/builders. Lasts a week. 3 hour airshow every day...
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Offline John Mc

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2018, 11:27:56 AM »
If you are a bigger person and want to take along a friend and a bunch of gear, you might want to look at a Cessna 172. It's a tricycle gear airplane (like the 150/152) - the single wheel is in the front, rather than the rear as in a tailwheel airplane. This makes for easier ground handling. There are lots of debates about learning in a tailwheel vs a tricycle gear, developing good habits, etc. My feeling is: with the right instructor, you can develop good habits in any aircraft. If you are on a budget, insurance for a new pilot in a tricycle gear aircraft is cheaper. You can also be less picky about who flies your plane and who you choose to partner with: probably any tailwheel pilot can also fly a tricycle gear plane, but most tricycle gear pilots need further training and experience to safely handle a tailwheel aircraft.

I talk Cessnas, because I know them better. But for every Cessna product he might consider, there is likely a piper equivalent.

On avionics: you NEVER get your money back on avionics upgrades when selling an aircraft. If you put in brand new radios, GPS, etc and try to sell the aircraft a month later, you will likely only get about half the value of the avionics upgrades you just did. For this reason, if you are on a budget, you should be looking for at least one good, modern digital radio in the avionics stack. If it doesn't have that, talk to an avionics installer: peple are always upgrading their radios and GPS units. You may be able to find a great deal on a radio that was just pulled out of someone else's aircraft.

As for GPS units: you don't HAVE to have one (and I and many instructors share concern about people getting too dependent on them). However, they are incredibly convenient. If you are not working on an instrument rating, and your target aircraft does not already have one, I'd go with a portable unit mounted on a bracket in the plane. It's MUCH cheaper than a panel mount unit. It is worth getting an aviation-specific portable. They cost more than one you'd use for hiking or in your car, but the aviation database they contain is well worth it.
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Offline starmac

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2018, 02:50:36 PM »
lot of knowledge being shared.
I have a couple of questions I have not seen addressed.
Will he have trouble renting, or jointing a club that has a plane or two because of his age.
What about insurance, I assume it is like auto insurance and age will come into play.
If his insurance works out to be expensive and he partners up with someone or even a few on a plane, how would that work?
Old LT40HD, old log truck, old MM forklift, and several huskies.

Offline John Mc

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Re: Starter airplane
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2018, 03:57:46 PM »
Experience is typically a much bigger factor on aircraft insurance rates than age, but I've not looked into this in any depth, since I was in my 30's when I started taking lessons.

Some clubs do not allow student pilots - in part because of insurance concerns. Most that I have run into DO allow student pilots: flight training is one of the reasons they exist.

As far as partnering up, how to split up the insurance is just one of the many things for the partners to decide. It's not a partnership, but my wife and I rent our plane out to someone who has a bit less experience than either of us and also does not have an Instrument Rating. Both of these factors tend to drive up insurance costs. He pays for the cost of adding the rental endorsement to our policy, and the extra involved with having a less experienced and lower-rated pilot.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow


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