For many the thought of owning your own plane seem as unreachable as the very sky in which they fly. Most people have some preconceived notions about personal aircraft ownership: one, it’s too expensive to fly yourself; two, it’s way more dangerous then commercial flight; and three, learning to fly is a hassle and not a very enjoyable experience. It is important to dispel some of these negative notions of personal flight.
Buying a personal aircraft is comparable to buying an average luxury automobile. According to Windsong Aviation, “An entry level, cross country, instrument equipped single engine plane starts at about $30, 000.” Buying an aircraft can be as easy as buying any car, online retailers and traders have huge databases of reliable airplanes sold by private sellers and commercial retailers well within reach of most people regardless of your budget. Associated costs of plane ownership can be very affordable and most planes, unlike cars, will hold their value and in some case increase in value. Insuring a plane can be cheaper then your home vehicle. For instance, a million dollar policy, on average, will cost around $700 to $800, and the average Cessna, a common entry level aircraft, increases in value around 5% a year.
The danger of personal flight is a real fear for some. That is due to the fact that the only time we hear about flying is when something terrible happens, but in truth thousands and thousands of people are safely flying themselves everyday. There is an old saying that the most dangerous part of flying is the car ride to the airport. The truth is most people are in far more danger on the highway than in the air. The activities most people are flying to, things like scuba diving or snow skiing cause more deaths than flying by far. Government studies have reported that 50% of all small aircraft accidents are due to alcohol or drug use, and another ten percent are due to reckless flying. So, like in any vehicle, don’t operate when impaired and be responsible, and your flight will be very safe.
Thirdly, bad experiences in flight training are due to bad instructors. Most training facilities are great and staffed with great pilots who really care about teaching people to fly. Like any service do not pay for something that does meet what it advertise. If you get paired with a young arrogant pilot who treats you in a way that is unbecoming, leave and take you business elsewhere. There are many places that will give you the service you need and deserve.
A used single-engine piston driven plane is around $35, 000 to $100, 000 with a cruising speed of around 200 mph. It’s important to understand the maintenance requirements on all aircraft are very strict, so an older plane is as good and as safe as it was when it was built. A brand new plane will cost much more, around $300, 000, but for some there is nothing like a new. Upkeep will cost about $2000 to $5000 per year. Every aircraft will need to be overhauled, which is why they stay so well maintained. This is referred to as the Time Between Overhaul or TBO. In most cases the TBO needs to be done every 2, 000 hours. This has a cost range of around $20, 000.
Most pilots only fly around 100 hours a year, so a well maintained engine can last 20 years before needing the requiring TBO. Insuring you plane is about the same, or less, than your car, around a grand a year. The tie down, or parking fees are about the same or in some case much less, averaging around $50 a month. The rest is gas, your growing wish list of personal aviation equipment, which you can find at sites like PilotMall.com, and whatever money you want to spend when you land.
Owning your own plane is well within reach and can open your horizons like nothing else can. For many, becoming a pilot and owning a plane is an incomparable joy.