Right on Driftrider/Mike, you are the man. No way I could have said it better or more accurately. I still say the reason for the particular rental cost of an aircraft has more to do with how new, and therefore how desirable potential renters may perceive it, the amount of tricked out avionics on board, and how fast the darn thing is. These all also add to the other variables such as increased fuel consumption (you only burn 6 gal/hr at 95 knots, but a 170 cruise is going to drink it up), and the cost to maintain and overhaul all those do-hickeys is also a bit more, as it the additional acquisition and maintenance costs for the larger, and likely more complex engine. Also, one of the costs left out so far seems to be storage. Has anyone seen how much hanger space costs?
Anyways, I’ve been enjoying this discussion, “a good pilot is always learning”.
Also, I have been looking at aircraft ownership. Unfortunately, I can’t afford a certified aircraft and particularly the expenses so well detailed by the Driftrider. So I have been considering the alternatives:
1) Used – hey, you can get an older freshly annualled 3,000 hr Cessna 152 for about $25k. Unfortunately, there is tremendous opportunity for replacement of worn components as many are well into their lifecycle. Additionally, you still have to pay an A&P to do all the work, as well spring for those Certified and TSO’d component parts.
2) Ultralight/Heavy Ultralight – By far the cheapest route. You can get yourself a kit and engine with the bare minimum of instruments/radios, etc. for under $20k brand new. It would be really fun to build, wouldn’t take terribly long and would be an absolutely fabulous and relatively painless learning experience. Registered as Experimental, you could be responsible for your own maintenance. If the aircraft were within the FAA Part 103 requirements, you don’t even need a PPL. On the down side, performance and comfort level is pretty low, generally. Also, the impression given by one of these extremely lightweight aircraft to your potential passengers is not going to instill great gobs of confidence, even if you feel safe as kittens in it.
3) The Kit Plane route – Literally hundreds of kits are available, for any taste and pocketbook. From fast cross-country cruisers to SIX seat dual engine to bush planes there is something for everyone. The kits can be made out of fiberglass, tube and fabric, wood or aluminum, but likely some combination of all of the above. These would be Experimental aircraft and because YOU are the manufacturer, you are eligible to receive authorization to be the “A&P” for that particular aircraft.
There are many types available on the internet. Just do a search of “Kit Planes” “Experimental Aircraft” or something else similar. Or go check out Zenith Aircraft (My current favorites are the all aluminum CH 601XL and the STOL CH 701.), Skystar, Murphy, Quad City Ultralights, RANS, and lots more.
Ideally, I would like to build a 2 seater, to keep costs down, that has reasonable cross country performance, as well as reasonable short/rough field capabilities (as a safety measure). All metal, for durability, the perception that it is a “real plane” for those doubting passengers and the ability to store outdoors, folding wings would be nice for winter indoor storage or trailering, adequate useful load (two passengers plus 1-200lbs of baggage). I don’t mind the build time for something like this, as it is something I just know I would enjoy as much as actually flying the thing. However, despite the upside, money and convincing the wife are my major holdups.