Friday, April 17, 2009

Flying and more flying, and being an owner

With more than 35 flight hours now logged in my Warrior, I'm getting to know the airplane pretty well. I've flown solo, with one person in the seat next to me, with one passenger in the front and another in the back seat, and in one case with one in the front and two in the back (they were light/young people, so still well within the weight and balance envelope).

Aircraft ownership brings with it some things you never have to deal with as a renter. When I cracked one of the stabilator fiberglass tips pushing the plane into the T-hangar parking spot, I had to buy a new one and have it installed. When the engine worries my novice and slightly-paranoid ear and I need to learn about better engine leaning and carburetor adjustments, I pay for the shop time to check it out. When the nose gear strut needs new seals and servicing, I pay for that. I just did pay for that, in fact. :)

Renters have all that stuff taken care of. If a rental is out for service, there's probably another plane you can fly.

But this airplane is mine. I can drive down to the hangar, pull the airplane out whenever I want, and fly it wherever I want - and for as long as I like. I have to buy the oil and fuel and parts, but in exchange I can fly for $30 an hour in fuel and oil (and then pay for as-needed parts and labor, plus inspections and whatnot).

Doing the calculations, I am flying quite a bit more in my own airplane than I would in a rental. I've flown more than 30 hours in the Warrior in about two months of ownership and sustaining this rate or something close to it won't be too difficult. With that many hours per year, I'm well past the affordability threshold for making ownership worthwhile, especially when you consider the low price I paid for the plane.

I've been able to share flying with friends, too - and that is the best part for me. While flying is something I actually enjoy doing alone (most activities I prefer to do with someone else), it's even better when someone else is in the airplane. I've even been thinking it might be fun some day (after I get a lot more experience and training) to teach others to fly. Now that would be fun!