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What is a good starter plane for privat?

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Hook em Horns!
Dec 23, 2001
Hello all, I was just wondering if yall had any suggestions for a good starter plane to obtain my private in and basically learn in. I just graduated from college here in Austin, Texas and was taking some lessons, but had to quit due to the fact that the lessons were just getting too expensive for me. ($100 hr with plane included) So ive decided to buy a small plane to learn in, and just pay for the instructors time, but my only dilema is that I have no clue what plane or plane manufacture to look at? I can only spend about $30k for my first plane, so that probably narrows it down quite significantly. So what plane do you reccomend?

Also, if i were to go to another state to a flight training school to obtain my Private Pilot License, how quickly can one be achieved time wise? Ive often considered just going to a flight school and doing a crash course to get my private to save money, but I really dont know what the quickest one could be attained?

Thanks all in advance for the info...........
I'm no expert by anymeans, and i DO NOT own an airplane, nor am i a flight instructor. I do work at an FBO and i have seen a few guys who bought aircraft to train in. one that seemed to work out the best was a Piper Cherokee 140. They picked it up for like 25,000 with a low time engine, and good paint and avionics. Flew it something like 150-200 hrs. between the two of them, then sold it for what they paid for it. Didnt burn much gas either....something like 7-8 gallons per hour. Also, a 150 or an older 172 would be a good typical trainer. You probobly wont find a warrior or Cherokee 180 for the price range you want. I've seen you can pick up a Grumman Yankee (AA1) for like 20-30k as well. Dont know how they fly, but the Cheetah, a 4 seater, kinda like the 172 over the 150, i wasnt to impressed with. Its a different breed of plane, and doesnt seem real forgiving. Kinda fun with the canopy though. If you wanna stay cheap, stay away from anything Fabric. Then you gotta hanger it, and that will drive your costs up. Just my $.02.

The C172 is an excellent plane. Good condition 1980 C172's can be found in the $50,000 range. What makes them good is that they are forgiving, because you will make plenty of mistakes especially in getting your private, and they are typically low maintenance (relatively speaking). This is why most FBO's feature C172's.

If your sticking under 30,000, well there is the popular C152.

At any rate, I wonder if you have done much research on owning a plane? There are MANY things to consider. Insurance is going to be steep at first, when you are not even a private. Even after you get your private it will be pretty bad, until you build your hours.

Then there is maintenance. A $30,000 plane probably won't be in tip-top shape, so you will be investing in maintenance and upkeep.

Then you have fuel, aircraft payments (assuming you finance), tie downs, etc.

Plus you don't even have your private yet! How do you know you will enjoy flying, or be good at it? Believe it or not most people who start flight training don't get their private. Owning an airplane is very complicated, and you have to fly a certain amount of hours a month (or year) for it make sense (the breakeven point).

With that said, I think it makes a lot of sense to rent at least until you get your private.

Also I would suggest against going to a fast-track cram course to get your private. The private is NOT something you want to cram for. Plus, you will have to pay housing, etc.

I think in the end for quality of instruction you are better off at a local airport. I would assume in Austin there are several local airports. Price them out and see which will give you the best deal. $100/hour plane and instructor is not a bad deal at all.
Your worried about spending $100 for instruction AND rental aircraft? Where I instruct you are getting away with murder!

My advice to you would be to keep your $30K that you want to pony up to 'buy an airplane', in the bank, and just get your private ticket. Many people finish between 50-60 hours. Fly as much as possible and get your license.

After that, if you still wanna shoot the wad, so to speak, on an airplane, you'll enjoy it that much more.

p.s. your $30K purchase must also budget to include insurance, annual inspection, maintenance/repair, fuel, storage, etc etc etc......
There is that old saying...

"If it flies, floats, or ..... , it's cheaper to own by the hour."

If you can afford 30K for a plane, use that leverage to take lessons and see if flying really is what you want.

There are a lot of pilots that rent flight school planes and don't have to worry about insurance, maintenance, tiedown, airworthiness directives, ad infinitum.
If you think you're going to save on lessons by buying your own airplane, you're fooling yourself. You would have to be extremely lucky not to have a major repair during the course of your instruction unless you're willing to dish out the money for an airplane that's either new or has a very low time engine. Then there's the scheduled maintanence plus the unforseen problems icluding AD's... I would shop around for a cheaper school if anything, or maybe a flying club. Good Luck.
$100/hr ouch thats a little expensive where I'm at (unless that dual included). The Cherokee 140 is a good plane to train in. I have a Spread sheet where you can put hours of flight per a year, TBO, fuel burn and all your costs and it will spit out aproximately what it would cost an hour to fly.

Your best bets are all metal (so you can tie down them), non-tail wheel (insurance reasons), and probally two seats. Look for a Piper Cherokee 140, and Cessna 152s, and 150s. Thats about all I would buy for a learning student, avoid the Piper Tomahawk aka "Tramuahawk."

Look for an aircraft with no major damage history and a low time engine, that is annual. If you can try to prevent getting one that was a formor trainer.

The biggest thing, once you buy it don't upgrade the panel, you will basiclly defeat the purpose. I have seen people that bought a cheap plane then spend about what they paid for it to put a Garmin GPS, NAV/COMs and all that other junk on the aircraft.
I own a C150 that I bought after my instument training. You might be better off getting your ticket renting. An airplane is sort of like a horse you can't shoot. They will find ways to cost you money even when you're not flying. At least you don't have to pay for a rental when you spend all month on jury duty. If you are considering buying and then putting it on lease back to a flight school, watch out. It is only a good deal for the flight school. And remember how you tend to drive a car when it's a rental. People do the same to airplanes.
You insurance goes down quite significantly after you get your instrument rating. If your plane isn't equipped for at least basic instrument flight you may still end up renting to get your rating.
I have my plane to fly around and eat pancakes. I still had to rent a plane to get my commercial and multi ratings. Despite that there is something said for being able to fly on your own schedule - or lack of one.
Thanks all for the info. I think im gonna stick to renting and leasing until i get more training and progress. I do have a very basic question for yall-
What are the orders of licenses?
2)Instrument Rating (I think?)
3) What else?

Also, if i took lessons 3 times a week, how long would it 'usually' take to obtain the private license?
runninhorn - usually the order is private-instrument-commercial, and then there are a couple of different paths from there. you can get your multi, or cfi, etc...

Are you still in Austin? If so, PM me and I can recommend a few places. I've been renting in the area for about 5 years now.


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