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New License, buy a retractable?

Hi there,

as you know me and a friend are contemplating which aircraft to buy. Our instructors recommended to avoid the “jump” to high power stuff like a Bonanza, so we settled our hearts and went looking for a decent C172 or similar aircraft. What they really tried to hammer in into our heads is to not start with a retractable aircraft. Well, so far so good.

Now, being based in LIPB we could for sure use some power surplus, especially on warm days like today. Most C172’s fall out by having a 140HP engine. Some have a little more, but are priced accordingly north of 100k EUR. We could buy a nice P28R-200 Arrow II which even has some decent avionic upgrades and a recently overhaulted engine for the prices of a decent C172. But surprise: Its a retract!

So what do you guys think about this? We still could do some training with the aircrafts of our club and then proceed with using the retractable once we gained some more confidence. Personally, I also feel that the Piper could give us some more options regarding load and rand when compared to the 172. But I might underestimate the complexity of this. I really want to avoid to land on my belly (well, my own belly would probabily suffer minor damage than the airplane’s )



If you were in US, it will be insurers who will tell you to avoid retracts on similar cruise speeds, the insurance delta will exceed the extra fuel burn, this goes as far as 170KIAS aircrafts

In Europe, you can insure and fly retractable easily, so you better get one if you fancy it

I would not compare 200hp Arrows to 160hp C172 but you have 235hp Dakotas to think about, it’s fixed gear but not the kind to be underestimated in hot & heavy days, the same comparaison FG vs RG applies to all speed ranges you want from 100kias to 170kias and all engines from 100hp to 310hp…

Last Edited by Ibra at 21 Jun 15:16
Paris/Essex, France, , United Kingdom

Thanks Ibra!
Well, I do fancy it, also for the gain in speed
A Dakota would be an intriguing solution, but finding one seems to be more difficult. Of course I am biasied as I would have the Arrow II within half an hour flight from our base…


I don’t see any problem with buying/flying retractable.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Luke, flying any “complex” is all about sticking to the bloody checklist. Never ever deviate from that checklist. If the checklist you have doesn’t fit the purpose, write a new checklist; But during flight don’t think too much, or sooner or later you might start to make errors.

Insurance is not a difference, at least in Germany. Don’t know the situation in Italy. As far as I’ve been told the Arrow gear is a bit more complicated regarding maintenance than e.g. that of the Comanche, but I don’t have real technical insight concerning the Arrow. It’s all doable.

Take into account that typically the mechanics want a prop overhaul in the dedicated time, which is typically every 6 to 10 years and which is more costly than that of a fixed pitch plane, and that a retractable gear is more complicated than you’d imagine. But again: it is doable.

In the end: A real (!) aircraft just needs to pull in that legs It’s sooooo cool

Last Edited by UdoR at 21 Jun 16:19

Another topic: what about a turbo? It may be a real game changer, depending on your mission profile…


@UdoR: Yeah, well, it would be an option considering again us being amidst the mountains. Flying northbound the turbo would be a nice touch (well, if not following the Brenner route, that is). My considerations are constrained by the available aircraft for sale and budget – we don’t want to exxagerate with the expense considering that often we might only fly it alone or together, and not with family (at least not at the beginning).
There would be an interesting Arrow IV turbo available, but the T tail seems to need alot more runway… Or am I wrong?

Also I like your “pull in that legs” sentence. So true :)


The Arrow IV needs more runway before the elevator responses, as it is outside propwash. But it wasn’t such a big difference. You’ll find a POH of each aircraft in google, so comparison is possible. I don’t have it at hand right now. Adding in the Turbo the Arrow IV will surely eat up less runway in hot&high conditions.

I can understand the “keep it simple” idea, and it is true that all these “extras” come at a cost. The discussion Turbo vs. NA can be lengthy. I came to my personal conclusion, that a Turbo is all I want to reasonably improve dispatch rate and at the same time keep costs in a reasonable limit. But any such decision is a personal one, and can differ from one use case to the next.

Regarding the future aircraft, I’ve read that although it is true that one should not overstrain oneself it was important that the aircraft was not so inferiour that it might not fit the use case intended for it. So it was O.K. to be a bit stressed in the beginning, let’s call it positive stress, and end up with a plane which you will use for some years, and it’s still O.K. and challenging. That information was framed in the context of risk management, because if the airplane is “too easy” for you in some time, there is an increasing possibility to make errors due to, well, being bored in the cockpit. You perform best if you have a challenge in the right level, not too high but also not too low.

And honestly, if you know how to use a checklist, and are serious enough to stick to it, and you should learn and know how to use the emergency procedures for the gear, then there should be no real problems here.


Maybe I can share with you my personal way: When I bought my airplane, I needed differences training on it regarding 1. retractable undercarriage, 2. EFIS, 3. Turbocharger and 4. variable pitch propeller.

Now it’s your turn.

(although I had in fact quite some experience in items 1 and 4, but not current)

Last Edited by UdoR at 21 Jun 17:01

What you need is a C182. Has the climb power you want, carries a ton of load and is a great, stable platform. Fixed gear also reduces mx costs. Also, while you’re based in the cooler part of Italy, if you head south a Cessna (any Cessna) never gets as horribly hot inside like a Piper. Something to consider.

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