First Class, With Economy

Getting a license is one thing; getting a plane is another. Here's how to start.

Sep 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

IT'S NEVER EXACTLY CHEAP to claim your own piece of the sky—with 10 percent down, payments on a Cessna Skylane will run about $2,000 a month, and maintenance, insurance, fuel, landing fees, and storage add thousands a year. Fortunately, there are alternatives to buying, and flying, solo; below are three cash-saving schemes that could help smooth out the financial turbulence.

The Deal: In this arrangement, a company offers shares of an aircraft for a fixed price and then takes care of everything else, from storage to changing the oil. Ourplane ( and AirShares Elite ( both offer partial ownership of single-engine planes. The two firms have similar requirements for prospective clients: Pilots must hold a license, they must pass a flight test, and most will have logged more than a hundred hours of flight time.
Bottom Line: An entry-level buy-in on a Cessna 182 at Ourplane runs $40,000. Tack on an additional $400 a month for insurance and storage, plus $125 for each hour of operation.

The Deal: It's simple—you and a few buddies go in on a used airplane together, share the costs, and take turns at the stick. Don't know any fliers? Look to Web sites like that maintained by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association ( Strike your own agreement and make sure you iron out all the vital details, like who gets the bird on which long weekends.
Bottom Line: A used 1980 Piper Warrior II runs about $59,000. Divided four ways, that's $14,750, plus insurance, fuel, storage, and maintenance.

The Deal: A final option is to rent your ride by the hour. Flight time is monitored by a type of aircraft odometer called a Hobbs meter, which means that pilots pay only for the time that the propeller is actually spinning. At Kissimmee, Florida–based SunState Aviation Flight School, pilots renting the Cessna 182 are required to have an instrument rating and 300 hours of flight time, plus an instructor's endorsement.
Bottom Line: Cessna Skylanes rent for $159 per hour for fewer than ten hours, fuel included.

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