We're Still Renters

To Buy or Not to Buy.

That was the question this morning.

We found a nice 1965 Mooney M20C for sale in Roanke, TX hangared at Northwest Regional. The plane was priced within our budget for a bank loan so we began the process of getting quotes and researching how to be plane owners: insurance, patio tie-down, annual maintenance and inspections, estimated fuel use for a year. I went on a test flight yesterday and was blown away at how easily it flies itself and accommodates the pilot. It had onboard weather, a Garmin 430 w/ upgrades, some new instruments and a nice auto pilot.

The plane as-is would fit our budget just fine. But looking 10 years out, the idea of ownership seemed to weigh us down. It's a 1965 airplane so in 10 years it will be a 50 year old plane. Most bank loans won't lend for airplanes over 50 years old. To get around that, we would need to make the plane sell itself by upgrading the paint (it currently has some chips but otherwise it's ok), upgrading the interior (from this to something like this), and upgrading the instrument panel (which has outmoded stuff that isn't used). And it would need a major overhaul costing at least $17,000 in the next 4-5 years.

These expenses stretched out over 10 years and divided into a monthly budget comes out to be more per month than the current rental rates where the planes are hangared and maintained for us.

I know the seller will be disappointed that we're turning down his airplane: we were so close. We already got approval for a loan, already called for a patio spot at Addison, already submitted information to an insurance company, already researched where to get upgrades.

Perhaps some day we'll find a pilot who's interested in a partnership who matches us in location and airplane needs. Or perhaps we'll find a plane that matches our budget better that we won't be stuck with.

Until then, we'll enjoy flying a variety of airplanes from renters and if we decide not to fly for some reason (health, budget, weather) we won't pay anything.


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