Learning to Fly & Learning to Buy

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.