This post will be about obtaining the affordable plane.
|"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards,|
for there you have been, and there you will long to return."
Leonardo da Vinci
For the pilot that just wants to fly regularly, putt around the pattern, and occasionally take a friend for a $100 hamburger: there are great options for ownership. Of the many options available, I'll cover the first one I thought about.
The Cessna 150
The Commuter is a great little airplane for getting into the sky and enjoying a sunny day. I flew one for the first half of my original Private Pilot certificate, and I remember it fondly. Powered by a near bulletproof 100hp Continental O-200, this bird is as hardy as she is slow.
It's very difficult to apply a wrong power setting on the O-200, and you generally don't even have to worry about the Lean of Peak / Rich of Peak argument your hangar mates are always having. At cruise your engine will be barely sipping fuel at just 5gph. Sure, lean her out to 4gph, but there's not much worry there either way.
With an average overhaul cost of $15,000, each hour you fly means putting away an extra $8.50 in engine reserve. Of course, the recommended TBO is 1,800, but I know a guy who currently has just over 3,500 hours since overhaul with no major engine troubles and is only now planning on having it done.
|Standard Cessna 150L|
Operating Costs with Maintenance Reserve: $45.35/hr
- $27.5/hr Fuel burn of 5 gallons per hour at $5.50/gal
- $0.60/hr Add a quart of oil per 10 hours
- $8.50/hr Engine Overhaul
- $3/hr 2x Magnetos: Overhaul Every 500 hours at about $750 ea.
- $0.25/hr Vacuum Pump: Overhaul exchange every 1,000 hours at about $250.
- $1.50/hr Generator/Alternator: Overhaul exchange after 500 hours for $750.
- $4/hr Let's say you have to replace two cylinders at 500 hours at $1,000 each.
Note: If you can get Alcohol-free Mogas near you for about $4.00/gal that drops to $38/hr
The propeller on this is fixed pitch and made of metal. Unless you get any major nicks or corrosion, and so long as it passes annual just fine its TBO is honestly pretty irrelevant; if you own the plane for long enough for this to be your problem you've done a good job.
The control surfaces and fixed gear should be negligible as far as cost, but let's throw on another dollar per hour reserve just in case. Anything that'd blow out a strut or the like in this plane would warrant an insurance claim.
Fixed Costs Broken Down Monthly:
|If you fly IFR or under a Mode-C veil you're going to need a Pitot/Static and Transponder Check|
Image Courtesy Giovanni Handal via Wikimedia Commons
An IFR Check is going to run about $300 every other year, this boils down to $12.50/month
Of course let's not forget insurance! After making a few calls today (these guys are going to start hating my voice eventually!), I've come up with the following average quote:
- Cessna 150
- 100hp Engine
- Student Pilot
- Zero Hours
- Not instrument rated
- Flight and Ground Hull + Liability Coverage
- Zero Previous Flight Experience, stating again
- Must receive at least 15 hours dual before solo
For reference here's what it would cost for me: $550/year ($46/mo)
- Private Pilot
- Roughly 200 hours total
- About 100 hours multi/complex
- Not instrument rated (This didn't make a difference, by the way)
The prices I received on the Annual for a Cessna 150 were what varied the most; this surprised me! My only guess is that the more familiar your A&P/IA is with a C-150, the easier and quicker it is for them. The quotes varied between $700 and $1,300. Let's go with $1,000. If you budget and save for this monthly that's about $85/mo.
Right now the common asking price for a 150 is just over $15,000. Assuming you can talk someone down to $13,000 and pay $2,000 down on a 6% interest 10-year loan the monthly cost is going to be about $125.
I understand that not everyone is fond of financing an aircraft, but this specific post is about being able to own an aircraft on a budget (and still afford to fly it!).
So there you have it. For a monthly cost of: $336
- $125/mo Loan Payment
- $85/mo Annual Inspection
- $63/mo Insurance (Student Pilot)
- $13/mo IFR Check
- $50/mo Tie-down
You can own this airplane and fly it for $45.50 per hour with maintenance reserves.
Edit: Do to some of the private messages I've received, I'm making the following line bold and very large.
So if we compare this to renting: Nope! Not gonna do that! If you want to own to make it cheaper than renting, you're gonna have a bad time.
Owning a plane is about the freedom it provides: you know the last pilot to fly it and how it was kept. You aren't going to find someone else's trash in your plane (well... maybe, since it is tied down and not hangared). You don't have to worry about schedule conflicts, and you'll never show up at the airport to find out she's unexpectedly been put into maintenance.
That doesn't mean you won't have to cancel a flight for maintenance yourself, but at least you should know when it happens.