After learning to fly in Fullerton, CA with Fun Outside, I wanted to keep flying and started to consider my options. Having the opportunity to own a plane for the first time sounded exciting but expensive. I started comparing different ways to stay flying and here’s what I came up with.
The easiest answer I came up with was to continue to rent by the hour. This is the answer that made most sense on a short term basis. It required no additional effort from me and I was already familiar with all of the planes that Fun Outside offered. There was no added stress or pressure to be checked out, learn new systems, learn a new POH or flight characteristics. This is a no brainer. The only downside was the competition for scheduling. I didn’t have the luxury of taking a plane for a day away or for a long weekend.
The next option I considered was joining a flying club. There’s typically a buy-in fee and you’re still paying an hourly rate. Borrowing the plane has a little bit more flexibility but as the club grows the rules get stricter. You’ll get to meet a big group of other pilots and a club is great fit for some, particularly those who fly infrequently. Many clubs have multiple planes and multiple CFI’s that are happy to work with other club members.
Then, I turned my attention to buying a plane. Having my own plane was always the dream but there are many challenges that go along with purchasing an aircraft. So, I considered the possibility of buying with partners. I quickly found a post outside the Wings Cafe for a 1/5 share of a 172. The partnership was already established and the plane was in a hangar. Since I was only paying for 1/5 of a plane, the price reflected that and turned out to be within my budget. After meeting the current owners, things moved quickly. With the hangar, I could easily park my car in the hangar during flights or trips and the man cave was established.
The competition for plane usage was a concern going on but I knew that I wouldn’t be fighting with scores of other students or club members. In this case it was just four others but it was still a worry. As it turned out, the comradery was there and the scheduling concerns washed away. There was great synergy amongst the owners. Some of the pilots flew weekly and I knew their schedule. Others flew rarely. All in all, partnership was a good experience. Whenever I wanted to take the plane overnight or longer, I would simply notify the other owners and ask for any concerns or conflicts. Almost always, it was fine to go away for a weekend.
In the end partial ownership worked well for me. Plus, if the plane was ever in maintenance, I still had the option to rent from Fun Outside.
Whether you join a club, buy in to a partnership or purchase your own plane, you’re going to get more involved, learn a lot about the proper care of your plane and become a more rounded pilot. All of that, while growing your hours and ratings. You’ll meet more pilots and other community members at the airport and feel more connected.