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Considering aircraft purchase - finally ;-)

Hello all,

So after years of promoting the merits of renting (if a good rental setup can be found), I’m now considering – together with my girlfriend – the purchase of an airplane. The reasons are:

  • The center of my life has and is gradually moving towards the North of Germany (where by girlfriend lives with her daughter) and rental options there are far less abundant than in the Rhein/Ruhr area where I was previously based.
  • We are looking for that extra degree of freedom that ownership provides – in terms of just going flying whenever we want, where we want, how long we want.
  • We are keen on the adventure of “owning an airplane”.
  • I/we will still be flying the route from the Lübeck area to the Düsseldorf area quite often and many times, flying that route is the most efficient and fun mode of travel here (compared to driving the busy A1, taking a shabby Deutsche Bahn Intercity, or flying commercially with all the hassles associated with that).

It is she who inspired me to start this thread, which has two purposes.

  1. We would like to initiate a general discussion on the risks of starting aircraft ownership these days – with all factors that may come to mind and that we might not have thought of. Are aircraft overprized at the moment? Should we wait? Should one expect aircraft values to decrease (thinking about future sale) based on the climate change discussions (I know.. different thread..) and when? If you’re buying an older (say, 40k-70k, 1960s to 1980s) vanilla aircraft (Piper, Cessna) today, should you – over and above the individual maintenance costs – expect any substantial financial issues based on SIDs, ADs, .. or is the general consensus that most of these have been dealt with?
  2. More specifically, as we are looking into individual purchase options, I would like to start a small Telegram group (join here) to discuss specific offers. I’d prefer not to discuss those here on a public forum. This is targeted at anyone who has some familiarity with small aircraft purchases, owners, past owners, etc.. Especially to discuss the quality of an offer, fair valuation, special issues to look out for, etc.. Note that we are not in a rush: If we find something suitable quickly, this might be over soon, but we are prepared to take our time as well.

Thanks and regards


Hungriger Wolf (EDHF), Germany

As someone who has been contemplating about this a lot let me chip in: Decide on what you want and know now. Don’t think longterm.

Patrick wrote:

Are aircraft overprized at the moment? Should we wait?

I think some asking prices are indeed optimistic and more a test of the market than actual willingness to sell. If you find an interesting „candidate“, and show up with the cash you intend to spend I think the price will be more realistic.

I wouldn’t wait in the hopes that prices decrease. I’d try to find the best plane asap and start flying.

Patrick wrote:

If you’re buying an older (say, 40k-70k, 1960s to 1980s) vanilla aircraft (Piper, Cessna) today, should you – over and above the individual maintenance costs – expect any substantial financial issues based on SIDs, ADs, .. or is the general consensus that most of these have been dealt with?

Impossible to know. Just think of the PA28 wing separation (possible AD action uncertain and dependent on many variables).

Airline/Mentor/Safety/Instructor - Pilot
Based Austria | Operating Worldwide

Aircraft ownership is a very steep learning curve. Don’t dive in without a healthy contingency, there are many warning tales of people who’ve made errors. Saying that if you can put the time in, it’s very rewarding and allows you to do far more.

I couldn’t recommend speculating on aircraft prices, moreso look for a good example that fits your mission and accept that it is probably going to lose value.

Do think about your mission and the type of flying you would like to do. Purchasing allows you to buy something more interesting / specialised than the standard rental fleet which can open many more opportunities.

My advice is a bit philosophical but it’s worked for me: Your biggest resource in owning a plane is people, preferably people who like you and will help to make things happen in terms of storage, maintenance and upgrades. When I bought my first plane I did not have a great number of such contacts (or even a license to fly it ) but the plane itself was an attraction for the right kind of people, and because it was not too expensive there was not a huge financial risk. After some time I figured things out, through the plane met who I needed to meet, I listened and learned and aircraft ownership has been a pleasure with only had a few trying moments.

Plane number two is more complex, but still something that I can easily afford. In both purchases I intentionally stayed away from modern, more common types to instead become more involved with a small community of owners and minimize hassles with ADs that somebody else has already carried out in my planes, and also with type-knowledge silliness e.g. whether a mechanic thinks the knob on my carb heat control is original, STC’d or unapproved.

Owning a plane is not a retail consumer experience, it requires knowledge and immersion unless you want to pay and suffer. By all means learn to swim, but don’t drown or get eaten by a shark…

Last Edited by Silvaire at 13 Oct 15:28

a good example that fits your mission

Keep it simple, fixed gear, fixed prop. Your core mission appears to be 300nm with IFR reserves and a budget which is non turbine, so light IFR.

Passenger comfort, so ideally around 120 KTAS keeping the flight to around 2 1/2 hours.

A low time (under 5,000 hours) PA28-181 or 172M/P/R/Rocket with basic IFR should fit the bill. Get one with complete and solid history that is in a state of good maintenance – preferably with an engine close to overhaul (you organise the overhaul and build into purchase price), or recently overhauled (last two or four years)

With internal combustion engine use having a probable horizon of around 15 to 20 years I wouldn’t over invest.

This implies that you are flying 100-200 hours p.a. and in 10-15 years you have written down your investment to zero.

Oxford (EGTK)

I am a conservative investor and for that reason bought planes with relatively small investments that I wouldn’t notice losing, but I’m pretty sure my plane and others will be flying in 50 years unless somebody crashes them. Worst case in Europe would be part it out and sell the parts to the US – I would bet my retirement fund that my base will be exactly the same in 15-20 years as it is today.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 13 Oct 15:29

Silvaire I do hope you are right :)

Oxford (EGTK)

A US journalist coined the phrase ‘cylinder count’ so one could marvel with friends about all the vehicles we choose to own and maintain… my cylinder count has come down to 41, and while I’m considering further reductions and happy that some are corrosion immune Nikasil, I don’t see myself going below 30 anytime in the next 20 years I do think one particular group of 12 may need to find a new owner, replaced by an additional vehicle having only 2. If my arithmetic is right that gets me to 31 for the long term.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 13 Oct 15:43

Alaska is going to be in trouble if that’s the case.

You can’t order a used airplane from the used airplane factory in the color you want equipped exactly as you desire at the price you are willing to pay.

I’m thinking of making quote (not mine) that into a sticker for people. Aeroplanes do not have to be perfect, they only have to be sound. Alot of people won’t get that. My aeroplane:

- Has some corrosion
- Engine is over 12 years old so is technically on condition
- Has some logbook issues
- Prob will need fabric in medium-term
- Has limited legal useful load on paper
- Has no avionics of note
- Has damage history

But it is sound, and I would go anywhere in it. If you offered me the market price plus 15k cash I wouldn’t take it. Technically it is 100% known to me since 2003, I have invested 2x what it was worth in engine/prop/fuel system/floats etc. If you can let go of this notion of the “perfect” aeroplane, and realise even factory new aeroplanes have shortcomings you will be empowered.

Buying, Selling, Flying
EIBR, Ireland
129 Posts
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