When its time to sell the plane

Kind of bitter sweet news for me. Had to make tough decision and pull trigger to sell my 152. Just came out of fresh annual and is in top shape. Every year I do a financial analysis after annual and the reality is, its not working. Single owner plane ownership although at times awesome for the most part is a lot of stress and hassle. I’ll share my personal experiences of owning a plane just to shed some light on anyone out there that is considering single ownership in the future. Lets start with the good…

  1. It is an unbelievable experience to pull up to your own hangar ANYTIME you wish and fly your own plane with your own headset already plugged in ANYTIME you want.

  2. You learn a LOT owning a plane. I recently had my 24 month flight review and the CFI was pretty impressed with some deep knowledge i retained, most of that came form the daily ins/outs of ownership.

  3. Its every pilots dream come true to finally have that aircraft with your name on the registration.

Now onto the not so great, and the true realities that make it for the most part pretty impractical.

  1. If you are in your 40’s , have a full time job, a family, you are NOT going to be able to fly that plane as much as you originally thought. After 3 years I only was able to fly 35, 42, 30 hours each year. This is due to weather, winter, family, job, downtime of the plane.

  2. Not only are maintence costs skyrocketing, its incredibly difficult to find a shop that wants to work on a small 152. The vast majority of shops would not return my calls or give me appointments. Over 3 years, $31,000 was spent total on plane (insurance, maintenance, annuals, repairs, fuel, hangar). Do the math, its not good, I was renting a 152 off myself for about $300/hr

  3. When a plane needs repaired it takes a long time. I needed a new radio installed. Took 3 months to get FAA auth, and 1.5 months for installation. Annuals took 1 month to get complete.

  4. Hangars are scarce. I had to drive 1.2 hours each way from my house to hangar. over three years could not get a hangar in airport closer to me. I was put on four waitlists, which to be honest I found hard to believe they even existed.

  5. Repairs far from airport suck!!! I lost a magneto while on an XC far from my home airport. That was not fun.

The reality probably for me and many private pilots, either clubs, rentals, multiple owner ownership is most likely the way to go.


This is a big one for me.

Coming from race car ownership, I could easily see this same situation should I purchase an airplane.

My big problem is (aside from those same things you’ve listed) is my love of the vintage. What I want isn’t, likely, going to be a part of a club’s fleet — especially given where I live and the limited number of airfields here and what they have on offer.

I just try to keep telling myself all of this and then go sit down with the sim and fly the impossibly in-real-life inaccessible aircraft offered there.


Waiting for @BostonJeremy77 to chime in, now that he’s part of that club

Not a real-world pilot here. Airplanes and boats cost money even when sitting still. My son is a pilot and years ago I jokingly told him if I won a plane at Oshkosh I would give it to him. His response was like don’t you dare. Even though he is and was a pilot, he didn’t want ownership.

Most of my flying time was spent flying “group” aircraft, the first jointly owned but, like the OP, found the costs prohibitive, even shared amongst 6 part-owners. Thereafter, I ran small groups, probably should better be described as clubs, using wet-leased aircraft, often owners who were like the OP. This actually proved beneficial all round, the only downside being keeping control of who wanted the 'plane when and for how long. (This was made easier for me when I had my aircraft handling/maintenance business and my staff were always on hand to take bookings - we did the maintenance too.)

I used to sail offshore once upon a time. There was a common phrase “standing in a cold shower ripping up £20 notes”. Private aircraft ownership is the same, only it is “throwing £50 notes out of the window”.

That was over 20 years ago - heaven only knows how peple afford it today! Flight simming is bad enough!


I realistically don’t really have much to chime in with, though I see the OP’s perspective. I am lucky enough to write my own schedule at work, so I am fortunate in that I can make time for myself to fly. There are sacrifices, for sure. For instance, since I began on this journey, it was a contributing factor in ending a relationship. I simply had to make a choice of where my priorities are and I realized that pursuing this passion of mine took precedence over how much time I was willing to spend with my girlfriend, which she certainly didn’t appreciate.

It is also not a cheap hobby, but again, it’s a matter of priorities. Do I NEED to go to restaurants a few nights a week? Not particularly, if I feel like having a bigger budget to fly both financially and time-wise.

I can’t tell you where I am going to be years from now. All I know if MY OWN experience and the fact is… I am enjoying it immensely and don’t particularly see stopping any time soon. I am also a lot more cognizant of the fact that this hobby is ALL about always learning. I am NEVER going to be “good enough” or “understand enough” or “too comfortable”. It’s a deeply humbling experience.

Everyone has to make their choices and I am sad that the OP has come to that realization of having to make this decision, I can see it being a difficult one. I just know that this pursuit made me discover something that I can’t wait to take it as far as I can while enjoying every day of this journey. That realization of “there is so much I don’t know… and I am not the story here anyway, the story is all around me!” There is nothing else like it.


You know what they say…

If it flies, floats or fornicates, it’s cheaper to rent it. Or something like that…


In 1979 my dad and his friend bought a 10-year-old Arrow for $16,000 and I was the lucky recipient of a set of keys all I had to do was top of the tanks .My dad 's partner in crime needed to cash out so the plane was sold for $23,000 it has change hands several times more but is now and the hands of another father son duo so it seems history has repeated its self .The dad paid $65,000 and has sunk another 50 grand in upgrading the electronics . A month ago, I talked to an FBO about getting current and although I can afford to do it gets back to the old question how much do I really need to spend take my friends for the proverbial $100 hamburger.
Then there is the question of my age soon to be 69 so as much as want to get current it seem unlikely that I will do so .I have a 22 ft boat and can spend my summers on the water but even that is hard to justify given the New England weather


How available are aircraft through a club?

Depends on the club. I rent the aircraft that I fly out of the flying school where I did my PPL. They call themselves a “club” and they have lots of airplanes, but they also have lots of students. I can book an airplane for a long block of time, but I have to use it for a minimum percentage of that period. As a result, it is cost prohibitive to actually do anything more than a flight that begins and ends at their home base. (e.g. I can’t sit on the ground for 1/2 a day at some destination and then fly back, because they are going to expect me to use the airplane for the time I have it, and they’ll charge me accordingly.)

My friend, on the other hand, belongs to another club that only has two airplanes but they will allow their members to take the aircraft on multi day overnight trips, with no minimum usage. (e.g. one could fly an hour, park it for a week and then fly an hour back and only pay for the two hours.) That makes their airplanes harder to book because they’re off on overnight trips all the time. That club is also very selective in who they allow in, and they won’t accept a guy like me who’s only a freshly minted PPL; all their members are high time and highly qualified pilots.

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And then there is the small airport problem, where I live there is only a couple small airports, and only one school and no clubs. The closest “club” is at least a two hour drive. Renting an aircraft from the school is available and I can do overnighters, or a few days, but not in the summer months as they are contracted with Air Cadets, so all the planes are used during the daytime, so can only rent in the late afternoon/evening and Sunday….