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  • Flying? Where do I start?

    I have been flying for the Air Force for 16 years now, no i am not a pilot :) Anyways, I want to get up in the air and go where I want to go!!!! I have looked into getting my PPL for a LONG time, but every time I really look at it the cost of not only getting the license, but the cost of renting is quite cost prohibitive. So, i looked at buying a plane, even ones with a low fuel burn that are relatively cheap, but then I started costing out the annuals that are involved, DEAL BREAKER! I am too heavy for helicopters, and the ones I am not too heavy for are very expensive (I weight 240 lbs on a good day, otherwise I am teetering at 250lbs). I would like something I can take my wife with me on too! I have for a long time been interested in Gyros. But am I barking down the wrong tree here thinking I am get myself and my wife up in the air affordably? Yeah yeah, I know, affordability is all subjective. If it is going to cost me more than $50 an hour, I am not interested.
    I have seen some VERY nice Gyros that are $60K+, I am looking more at the $20K region. Like the RAF2000s, though, I am not sure if they will support myself and my wife or not. Anyways, some advice?

    Thanks in advance!

    Brent

  • #2
    Least expensive path is buy an inexpensive used Cessna or experimental fixed wing and get your sport pilot license. Gyros will take longer and in general cost more. There are ways to keep flying affordable and best to look for local deals.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you for your service Brent.

      It is late after a long day so there may be some errors in my post and I am going flying with my wife first thing in the morning so I won't have a chance to proof read it.

      I looked it up and the requirements for Sport Pilot Gyroplane are identical to Sport Pilot Airplane according to the 2019 FAA FAR 61-311.

      Many people find it easier to learn to fly a gyroplane because they won't stall or spin.

      Few people can become proficient in a fixed wing in the prescribed 20 hours with 15 hours of dual instruction. I have read the average is over 40 hours.

      With someone willing to work it is not that hard to become proficient in a gyroplane in 20 hours with 15 hours of dual although some will take much longer.

      A Cessna legal for light sport (162 Sky Catcher) is priced similar to a nice two place gyroplane. New they were $150,000 but they donít make them anymore. The ones used for training often need a lot of work and because they are no longer produced parts may be a challenge and expensive. I mention the Cessna only because it was specifically mentioned and it is a starting point to get specific. It would not be my choice for a light sport fixed wing.

      A Sky Catcher with 15 gallons of gas on board your wife would need to weigh no more than 150 pounds to stay under the maximum takeoff weight with you at 250. Most people donít fly naked so how much you each weigh with your cloths on is the question. With 15 gallons of gas on board maximum useful load is 400 pounds for everything on board.

      In my opinion fixed wings and gyroplanes are not comparable because I find a gyroplane much more fun to fly. I am able to have a memorable aviation adventure in a gyroplane with very little flight time.

      It is my observation that with the expense of a hangar, insurance and annual condition inspection most people spend more than $50 per hour to fly a gyroplane or a light sport fixed wing.

      In my opinion RAFs are priced low for a reason and it may not be the best gyroplane to start in. Many are badly built and badly maintained because they tend to attract people looking for the lowest cost. They use an automobile engine that some feel may not be well suited for aviation use. Most have lots of timed out parts on board that may be expensive to replace. There may be a great deal out there but in my opinion that is the exception.

      Even with an experimental you will still need to have annual condition inspections that can get pricey.

      Aviation is an expensive hobby and in my opinion not a good place to try to cut costs.

      One way to cut costs is to purchase an aircraft with several friends. With a typical Light Sport Aircraft flying less than 50 hours a year (an hour a week) even with four people you should be able to work out a schedule that works for everyone particularly in a place with nice weather like Florida.

      A $60,000 dollar gyroplane divided by four is $15,000 and the hangar expense and insurance are also divided by four.

      I recommend you take a few hours of instruction to see if you want to make the commitment to aviation. It is not a hobby for everyone.
      Last edited by Vance; 09-09-2018, 06:14 AM.
      Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI http://www.breeseaircraft.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        +1 to Vance's advice

        Owning an aircraft of any type is not a cheap hobby. My budget has an additional $10,000 above the cost of ANY gyro for travel, to get licensed and purchase all the other things needed to get started (tools, helmets, fuel cans, etc). After that is taken care of the expense of fuel alone is not insignificant. I have set a goal to log 200 hours in 2019. That's $4000 in fuel next year!

        As Vance said, aviation is not a hobby where cutting corners to save money is wise. If it bites back the results can be very bad.

        On the positive side Vance suggests taking a flight. Be prepared to be hooked once you take a flight!

        Comment


        • #5
          If it is going to cost me more than $50 an hour, I am not interested.

          My fuel burn alone, costs roughly $40/hour. By the time I calculate, hanger and maintenance, my per hour cost run between $55 to $60. However, if I throw in my truck and hotel costs for traveling to Florida or Mentone, It will break $100 / hour very easily.
          David McCutchen
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          2 busy 2 No!

          Comment


          • #6
            As one of the few "Non-pilots" in this forum, I cannot overstate the importance of heeding those who have taken some of their time to give you a little of their vast knowledge and experience in aircraft mechanics and pilot procedures. Not only will their counsel and advice prevent you from mis-steps and frustration, it will provide you with much future delight and contentment.

            By coming to this forum, you have already taken a big step in beginning your flying future.
            Regards

            Frank

            Comment


            • #7
              Brent: Just as a counterpoint to some of the above, my fuel cost (Magni M16 with Rotax 912ULS) is only about $18 an hour, burning 91AKI unleaded. My gyro has a useful load of about 600 lbs. Full fuel and oil weighs about 120 lbs; that leaves 480 lbs to split between two passengers. It has flown with 250 lbs in the front seat and 200 in the rear (and vice versa), without any trouble.
              Last edited by Tyger; 09-09-2018, 12:41 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Brent

                Whatís your mission? Low and slow in the local area? Then a gyro is a reasonable option. Going somewhere? Then a fixed wing may be better. More reliably going somewhere? Then an IFR-capable fixed wing is the best op.

                $50/hr is a very low threshold if youíre being realistic/honest, especially if you consider insurance. I own/fly an IFR-capable Piper Warrior, keep it in our hangar attached to our airpark home, and fly it 200 hours a year. $40/hr for gas conservatively, $2/hr for oil changes. Honestly, add $12/hr for engine reserve (2000 hr TBO, $24K overhaul). Those are the simplistic variable costs. Annuals are about $1500, other repairs about $500/year. Insurance is $550/year.

                By contrast, my Magni M-16 costs me $16/hr in fuel plus maybe $1/hr for oil changes. Doing condition inspections myself I estimate will run $200/yr. But insurance...

                Identical limits for my gyro run me $4000/year. Plus it has a $4000 deductible vs $500 for my Warrior. Even if I do 200 hours/year thatís $20/hr just for insurance.

                You can easily get into a decent VFR or simple IFR worn-but-decent Warrior for $40K or less. True operating costs will be close to your $50/hr limit, depending on the hours you fly per year. You'll have a 650+lb useful load with full fuel and a ride your bride is much more likely to join you in than an open gyro. But if your mission is close to the motorcycle side of life, the gyro is the way to go.

                If you really want inexpensive you may also look at planes like the RANS S-12. I donít know insurance costs for those, though.

                You can also also look at Cessna 150/152s. Given your anthropomorphics that may be snug for you and your bride but itís an option.

                Hopefully this is helpful.

                /Ed

                Comment


                • #9
                  A few added thoughts to my comments above:

                  Being honest about your mission is key. If in any way you end up thinking the fixed wing route best fits your mission, Iíd contend youíre much better off getting your private pilotís license and not stop at Sport Pilot. There are zero new Light Sport Aircraft for under $60K, most are well above $100K, and Iíd be suspicious of any used LSA under $60K. There are very few legacy aircraft that qualify as LSA but there are some (the Ercoupe is one, I believe). There are LOTS of very sound 4-place(!) fixed wings under $40K. The point is, the cost difference between an LSA and an older Piper, Cessna, etc. makes the difference in cost between Sport Pilot and Private Pilot moot. And price the insurance on all of those. Plus youíll have opportunity to advance your flying mission; a Light Sport canít be made night- or IFR-legal.

                  This is NOT to dissuade you from a gyro: just make sure it fits your mission.

                  /Ed

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by EdL View Post
                    There are very few legacy aircraft that qualify as LSA but there are some (the Ercoupe is one, I believe).
                    /Ed
                    More than a few, actually.
                    Currently certificated aircraft that can be flown exercising sport pilot privileges: https://www.aopa.org/advocacy/advoca...sport-aircraft

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      True - but virtually all are tail-draggers, which is certainly another reasonable path. A quick review of the list shows only the Ercoupe and the Quicksilver (which I believe is certified as Primary and only for the Rotax 582 version - a 2-cycle, no less) are tricycle gears.

                      Again, and true for all of us, one should know the mission when thinking about this stuff. And SOMETIMES the Sport Pilot ticket can be penny wise but pound foolish. And again, insurance should at least be considered.

                      /Ed

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by perrysplus View Post
                        I have been flying for the Air Force for 16 years now, no i am not a pilot :) Anyways, I want to get up in the air and go where I want to go!!!! I have looked into getting my PPL for a LONG time, but every time I really look at it the cost of not only getting the license, but the cost of renting is quite cost prohibitive. So, i looked at buying a plane, even ones with a low fuel burn that are relatively cheap, but then I started costing out the annuals that are involved, DEAL BREAKER! I am too heavy for helicopters, and the ones I am not too heavy for are very expensive (I weight 240 lbs on a good day, otherwise I am teetering at 250lbs). I would like something I can take my wife with me on too! I have for a long time been interested in Gyros. But am I barking down the wrong tree here thinking I am get myself and my wife up in the air affordably? Yeah yeah, I know, affordability is all subjective. If it is going to cost me more than $50 an hour, I am not interested.
                        I have seen some VERY nice Gyros that are $60K+, I am looking more at the $20K region. Like the RAF2000s, though, I am not sure if they will support myself and my wife or not. Anyways, some advice?

                        Thanks in advance!

                        Brent
                        Brent:
                        Consider a 1963 Beech Musketeer with the Lycoming O320. Just under 1000 pounds useful load, and the cabin is huge. $20-$25k will get you a nice one. Not a fast plane (125 mph), but only uses 8.2 gallons per hour.

                        Jim

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