I’ve just started flying in a new airplane. My private pilot training was done almost exclusively in the little Cessna 150’s, good airplanes that are small in size and power, but fun to fly around and great to learn in. I also flew one lesson in a Cessna 172, which is noticeably larger (four seats), more powerful, and more stable in the air.
A close equivalent to the 172 is the Piper Cherokee. Later models of the Cherokee include the Warrior, designated as the PA-28-151. It has a low-wing, four seats and a 150-horsepower engine. I was fortunate enough to find out about a Warrior based at Twin Oaks Airpark, my home airport. It’s been sitting in a hangar and not flying very much over the past few years, and while the interior is dated and tired, it is in pretty darned good shape and all the radios work, it has a current annual, and checked out okay. So, I test flew it myself and had it checked out by a mechanic, which is what you do if you plan to fly an unfamiliar aircraft a lot.
And then I bought it. For something akin to a steal of a price. Yes, you read that right: I own an airplane. It cost less (a whole lot less, in fact) than my truck. Airplanes can be much more affordable than people think. Most people I know are driving cars and SUVs that cost substantially more than this aircraft. I got a very reasonable price, thanks in part to the current economy and the deflation of airplane selling prices over the past few months. This airplane would have sold for almost twice as much a few years ago. In short, it looks to be a great time to but an airplane if you’re in the market and can afford one (there’s more than just the purchase cost involved in owning an airplane. Just spend a lot of time looking around, and don’t pay the asking price – It will almost certainly be too high. My purchase price was around 25% less than the asking price, if that tells you anything.
The plane’s tail number is N639MR (link goes to a web site I set up for it), and here’s what it looks like (click on each of the images to view larger):
Over the past few days I received some dual instruction in the airplane from my flight instructor at Fly-Oregon.com, Kelly. Being properly checked-out, I was able to fly about 1.5 hours solo yesterday for the first time. I did several take-off’s and landings at a couple airfields, and then flew to Portland-Hillsboro airport, where I met up with my friend and fellow pilot Dave. He got on board and we flew for a couple hours. We had a great time. Dave will also be flying the plane, as he’ll be building time while he works toward his professional pilot goals. I got to fly over my house for the first time and did two night landings.
Flying a low-wing plane, not to mention a larger and heavier airframe, presents some real differences compared to the little high-wing Cessna 150. Ground effect in the Warrior is much more pronounced thanks to the low wing, so a proper approach speed at landing is fairly critical in order to avoid floating in the air down the runway (especially if there’s any tail-wind). It’s very stable in wind and turbulent air, and flies wonderfully. And it climbs much faster and higher than my little training aircraft.
It is also a great cross-country flier, and makes respectable airspeed even though it’s not a super fast bird. Visibility outside is quite good – much better than in the C150. It’s comfortable, will get you where you want to go relatively quickly, and is quite fuel-efficient in cruise. I can likely burn less gas in the aircraft that I would driving over the ground on long trips (and get there much faster). I’m looking forward to visiting some fun places and using the plane as an alternative to airliners here and there!