Great X/C Aircraft?
New to the forum...appreciative of your help!
I am in the market for an airplane...looking for your recommendations. Looking to spend in the area of $1600/month on ownership and operation and yes, I will finance it. I would imagine I am in a similar position as many in regards to the types of aircraft I am considering. It is mainly my wife and I travelling, on trip lengths of generally about 300nm, although I would like the occasional capability to fly to S Florida (I live in NC) which is 600nm. This would be an impossible stretch for all but a few airplanes with more than the relatively standard 50gal tanks. I would really like 4 passenger (2 couples~so about 600lb of people) capability over at least a 2 hour stretch with IFR reserves-this puts the useful load requirement at above 860 pounds or so. I also fly a lot of IFR, so a nice panel and GPS would be nice. The monthly budget with a $200/mo hangar relegates me to I would assume a less than $80k airplane.
So far, I have seriously considered the following: M20C/E/F, Arrow, Cherokee 235 or 180, C182, 50's and 60's Bonanza, Warrior, and Twin Commanche.
I have lots of experience and time in different airplanes, about 3000 hours total, but I do not have the ownership experience. I hope to receive some help from those of you experts that do! I don't feel insurance will be a problem acquiring, but I do not know exactly how much I can expect to pay for a V-tail, for example vs. a 235, and whether that will make the latter a much better buy. Help!
If it helps, I am east coast based, and the only mountains I am flying over are those of the blue ridge. The airplane is for IFR X/C transportation up and down the east coast. I have been renting an Arrow IV with 72gals that has served our purposes QUITE well, especially with the long range that allows us to get to Miami nonstop. I would rather put the $2,000 per month in rental into our own airplane!
Thanks in advance for any inputs and help!
I doubt I'll be much help, but here are my thoughts. Others will likely disagree. You know the arrow fairly well, so I'll omit it. I'll write briefly on things I think I know about, and omit the others.
1) All airplanes are compromises between acquisition cost, maintenance cost, range, speed, usable load, and comfort. While you give numbers for all of the above (except speed), your post doesn't really spell out what is most important and least important to you.
2) Twins are usually available at attractive price points. And for good reason: they're considerably more expensive to operate than singles. I wouldn't think seriously about a twin unless money is no object or you can justify the expense.
3) If you want low COST, then the Cherokee 180/235 probably has the best price point of the planes you listed. The Cherokee may be a bit small in the back to fill all four seats, though. Check for yourself.
3) If you want SPEED, the Mooney F would be the best candidate I saw in the list you provided ( the C and E have short leg room in the back seats ). Unfortunately, they are somewhat expensive to acquire and maintain, but their owners frequently swear by them. M20F Evaluation Report
4) A Cessna 182 has a great reputation, with good payload and range, and respectable speed. Sadly, they also have a price point that may price them out of your range except on the very low end (which will be more prone to higher maintenance and possibly big 'surprises').
5) I'm pretty sure none of the planes you mention are qualified for icing conditions. A 210 might be, but I suspect that's well out of the price range.
6) As a Cardinal owner and self-proclaimed cheerleader, I would suggest you also look into the RG Cardinals. Good support group, good parts availability, very comfortable inside, decent cruising speed ( 140+ kts ), and good looking. I own a FG Cardinal and am quite happy with the purchase. The FG Cardinal would cover all your needs at a lower cost point, but I think you might be happier with something that moved a little quicker.
7) Avionics depreciate (some say as much as 50%) as soon as they are installed. If you can find a plane with the avionics you want, you will save money.
8) For IFR, an autopilot is a highly-recommended item to have. To install one after the fact can be a $10K+ experience, if even available.
Ah, that's enough rambling.
Thanks for your reply; it was helpful!
I couldn't agree more that all airplanes are compromises; that is what makes the choice so difficult! I read the attached article about the M20F-thanks-it was very helpful. My main issue with the older Mooneys is the un-ergonomic panel but I have found a few with redone metal panels that are quite nice, with GPS.
You asked about my priorities-this will sound strange I'm sure, but speed is always welcome, but above that I would like the airplane to be "nice." It sounds juvenile, but over a 300nm trip, I would give up arriving 15 minutes earlier in order to have a really nice interior and comfortable and enjoyable ride for my family-I doubt they would notice the difference anyway. That being said, 145 knots in a F mooney vs 110 in a warrior is a big difference and the warrior with nice interior will not win any friends when the same trip to florida takes hours longer and has to stop. So, reasonable IFR avionics and a plush interior with nice paint would have the trump card for me over spending that same money on 10 knots.
Yes, known ice would be awesome to have, but as a 'working man' I just can't afford it but am well aware of the limitations imposed by flying in chilly clouds and how much it limits winter flying! It really does stink, but there's no excuse for bad decisions when flying with precious cargo on board!
I will definitely take a look at 177's; for some reason I remember them being more expensive. I suppose a lot of the above airplanes are great buys-it just depends what is currently on the market.
The Cardinal was one airplane I considered, as they look so much nicer than the 172 or 182. Then I was offered half of a Bonanza. No looking back.
-Far more comfortable for four than a Mooney.
-Impeccable flying qualities.
-Faster than anything else in the priice range.
About the best "all-around" airplane is the Cessna 182. Does everything well.
Thanks! What model Bonanza? How much can I expect to pay per year for an annual of a clean plane and extra maintenance on the side? Is it far greater than what one would find with say...an Arrow?
Also, are there any older 35 models that you would highly recommend or not recommend?
Hard to have any general rules for early Bonanzas, as many have been highly updated/modified. A close look at the individual airplane is what is important, as any Bonanza in your price rance is going to be an older one.
One thing to consider is Weight & Balance. While the Bonanza is the must fun airplane to fly this side of an F-16, they do have a narrower CG range than some other airplanes. Carrying four people is usually fine, but if you start adding much weight in the baggage compartment, it is easy to bust the aft weight limit. Both the Bonanzas I have owned have had big engines, which makes it easier to stay within limits. Two people and baggage, fine. With two couples, you will most likely need the heavier guys up front if you have any luggage. It's also neccessary to check the CG with both full and empty tanks, as the CG migrates aft slightly when fuel is burned.
When I first bought the airplanes, I ran a bunch of sample weight & balance problems, each scenario with tanks full and empty. I have a good grasp of what I can and can't do.
Lots of airplanes available right now. Have fun looking!
Sounds very reasonable. I chose useful load and comfort over speed and cost with my purchase.
Originally Posted by EaglDrivr
Here's a review link to the Grumman Tiger/Cheetah, but it doesn't sound like they have the useful load you'll need: Av Consumer Review of Gulfstream Tiger/Cheetah
Other advice I can think of is for any type you're seriously considering, find a local mechanic with expertise in the type. Otherwise, you'll be paying somebody to learn on your airplane. Plus, if they're experienced, you can use the guy that will be maintaining your airplane to do the pre-buy.
Beyond that, I assume you know the 'regular sources' for airplane ads ( Barnstormers, TAP, Controller, etc. ). Don't forget to find the type-specific groups as well, as many of them have their own classified section and frequently members will post there first. As a bonus, somebody who is in a type club may be a little more likely to keep their plane well-maintained than one who has no ties to that aviation community. ( The Cardinal group is Cardinal Flyers Online Home Page and there are others for almost any major type).
You might as well count on a stop on the way to FL in most cases. Most non-aviation passengers are ready to stretch their legs after 2-3 hours. (In my case, it's triply true because of kids). However, your personal experience may tell you differently.
Lastly, check into insurance. You have enough time that I doubt it's an issue, but it's worth knowing in advance.
Bonanza's are nice. Bonanza's are expensive. If I were to choose a Bannana that I could realisticly get, it would be the F33A. I never got past the throw over yoke. Never cared for that look. The best deal on the market for cost, reliability, maintainance, long legs, and room is a Comanche. I just did all of this homework, and the Comanche is the most bang for the buck out there in my opinion. Many to choose. I like any of them from 1965 up with F.I.. Piper did make about thirty 1965 models with carburetters. If you you do get a Comanche and decide on a "B" or a "C" you will be very happy with a sound decision........I like the M20K too, but they are too darn small inside, and do not have the payload. They are really a two seat plane with four seats. If you do your homework you will find that the IO540- is one heck of a reliable workhorse that can be operated at LOP in cruise quite nicely...
Last edited by apogee; 11-30-2009 at 01:24 PM.
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