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Thread: Dilemma (sort of) about where to start in my quest for the air...

  1. #11
    Eric Page's Avatar
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    No worries. That's the nature of online communication!
    Eric Page
    Building Kitfox Series 5
    Member: EAA, AOPA, ALPA
    ATP: MEL / Comm: SEL, Glider / ATCS: CTO
    Map of Landings

  2. #12

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    From the OP: "Anyhow, I'm just curious what others in a similar position have decided for themselves, what went into your decisions, etc. I'm sure I can't be the only one in EAA for whom disposable income is a little tighter than ideal for our aerial aspirations!"

    I am not "in a similar position" but as a CFI in just about anything I have worked with more than a few individuals in similar situations. I will make a few comments.

    !. Your summery and planning is excellent. Whatever you chose to do you will do well.

    2. For PPG trike training chose you instructor well and be cautious. In PPL (conventional aircraft) it is common to quote a low price based on FAA minimums (40 hours) and ignore the typical student (60 hours). In PPG this translates into quoting the cost of training and ignoring the cost of repairs. The cost of broken props and cages can add up quickly. I know of several UL/Light Sport students that have given up or moved on to different equipment because of the cost of repairs.

    3. Don't go the PPG route just because of a perceived cost difference. A PPL can be obtained for much less that just going to the typical flight school in some instances. Hang around the type of flying you really want and you may find some "open doors".

    4. Start attending aviation functions. EAA and other club meetings. FAA safety seminars, etc. You will meet interesting people that can help you find that "open door" and you will learn a lot in the process.

    5. Watch the pocketbook. I see students come out of the local flight school with $200 + dollars of books. All the study material you need is free on the internet if you know where to go. FAA.gov will keep you busy for the rest of your life. Google and read "See How it Flies".

    From your OP I expect you are allready doing the above.

  3. #13

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    This is one of the few instances where I would subscribe to the "Buy once, cry once" theory of life choices - lol

    In ONLY my personal opinion worth every penny it just cost you......

    IF you choose a flight center that is CONVENIENT for you (long commutes make it tough to stay the course) and using 60 hours as an 'average' duration that works out to say $10,000? (or any other amount) IMHO save, beg or borrow that amount plus two thousand $$ more as a buffer and sign up for a full Private Pilot. You will NEVER regret being fully licensed and able to rent the most common GA aircraft out there most everywhere that rents aircraft - NOT the case if you go for say the Sport Pilot license instead - lower cost perhaps but VERY limited options beyond buying your own plane. Also expect to outlay 'about' $1500 in discretionary money each month for aircraft rental, fuel, insurance etc.etc.etc.

    How's that advice working out for ME? I am 72 with a life-long passion for all things aviation, and do ALL my 'flying' courtesy of Microsoft Flight Simulator and some good accessories to enjoy it.
    "Don't believe everything you see or read on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

  4. #14
    Dana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Page View Post
    I only wish it were so. The beautiful winter days this year have been brutal! My neighbors (PA-12, PA-18 and two C-180s) blast off on flying adventures, while I'm left behind in my garage because my Kitfox isn't finished yet. Then, as if to rub salt in the wound, they come home and show me photos on their phones, bragging about the beautiful little strip they found next to a river. Oh, the agony!
    Don't worry, you're not alone... except in my case it's been too darn cold to fly my open cockpit Hatz, while my decadent friends with cabin heaters are out flying, landing on frozen lakes, and talking about putting skis on their planes. But Spring's coming...

  5. #15
    robert l's Avatar
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    For me, back in 1973 when I started working on my PPL, I would wash planes for flying time from the FBO, small town, small airport, I was 27 at the time and much more flexible and energetic, but it helped offset the cost. After 13 months I got my PPL and enjoyed flying for a couple of years. Then, like most people flying on a budget, life got in the way and I didn't fly for 35 years and when I wanted to start back, there were health problems and I had to go Light Sport. I really liked flying the 1946 Champ, even though it was a 40 plus mile trip to the only airport that had anything Light Sport, and many times the plane wasn't available, when I got there, for one reason or another,even though I had reserved it. After a couple of years of really local flying, I wanted to go a little farther, you know, really go somewhere. I took the chance and decided to go for my 3rd class medical again, and after a full 1 and 1/2 years dealing with the FAA, I got a Special Issuance for my 3rd class. After that I went Basic Med. To solve the cost factor of flying, I went in partners with 3 other people and we bought a 1965 Cessna 150. One of the partners, and great friend, is a CFI and uses the plane for instruction and that money will go for 100 hr. inspections, annuals and any other maintenance that is needed. It is a gamble, but so far, after 7 months of ownership we are still in the black and the plane flies great. At 74, I'm finally living the dream of having my own airplane and being able to fly practically anytime I want, the CFI is only instructing on the weekends so I have all week to get my fill. Did the $100 hamburger, BBQ, thing yesterday with 4 other airplanes to a destination I'd never been to before, it was great and I logged another 2.3 hrs. To quote C.S. Lewis, "You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
    Bob

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHICAGORANDY View Post
    This is one of the few instances where I would subscribe to the "Buy once, cry once" theory of life choices - lol

    In ONLY my personal opinion worth every penny it just cost you......

    IF you choose a flight center that is CONVENIENT for you (long commutes make it tough to stay the course) and using 60 hours as an 'average' duration that works out to say $10,000? (or any other amount) IMHO save, beg or borrow that amount plus two thousand $$ more as a buffer and sign up for a full Private Pilot. You will NEVER regret being fully licensed and able to rent the most common GA aircraft out there most everywhere that rents aircraft - NOT the case if you go for say the Sport Pilot license instead - lower cost perhaps but VERY limited options beyond buying your own plane. Also expect to outlay 'about' $1500 in discretionary money each month for aircraft rental, fuel, insurance etc.etc.etc.

    How's that advice working out for ME? I am 72 with a life-long passion for all things aviation, and do ALL my 'flying' courtesy of Microsoft Flight Simulator and some good accessories to enjoy it.
    I disagree with "CHICAGORANDY" in post 13 above but that is me and he is he. This is me and I do not want to do any of my flying in Microsoft Flight Simulator. We are each individuals with different goals and desires.

    One of my priorities was to move out of the Detroit and Chicago areas. Been there and done that. I live where there are interesting places to fly and interesting things to see. You can have your $100 hamburger. I'll put my money in gas and equipment. I also do not agree with borrowing to fly. Limit yourself to what you can afford and save for what you want. See my posts on HBA (homebuiltairplanes.com). There is good information in the light stuff area thread about Chip Irwin's Merlin Light Sport for expensive new stuff but not much more that the $12,000 suggested above. For the really inexpensive extreme see post #186 in the Peter Sripol thread (https://www.homebuiltairplanes.com/f....34664/page-10).

    Searching around you can possibly find a reasonable Ultralight or Light Sport for about $5,000 and then get help with the learning to fly part. I know of several good prospects depending on the budget but they are on the west coast. My son is about to pick up a high performance glider for just 20% more than that. Fixed wing ultralights are more difficult to find than PPGs but the training and experience will be more in line with your future fixed wing goals. On the other hand you will have fond memories of the PPG experience.

    PS for CHICAGORANDY - If you are reading this pick a nice weekend in March and schedule three flights at Hinkley Soaring (HS). It will be $ well spent. Full disclosure. HS is one of my former employers. Good times and I still enjoy telling the Hanger Flying tails of old from the good old days there. Look for the photo of the DC-3 landing there if it is still on the wall.

    OK - One war story. One of my former star (IFR) students was a MS employee. I swear he could have passed the IFR check ride on the first day of instruction. On the second day I saw his MS flight Simulator and it all made sense. He told me that if you take off from Chicago Midway and fly to Kankakee, IL you can drive (taxi) off the airport and up main street to the address of the originators of the program and you will find photos the the three programmers hanging on the office wall. I think that version is long gone but if any one finds the photos please post them here.
    Last edited by jedi; 03-08-2021 at 09:15 PM. Reason: Corrected Post # to post #186 to reference Big Blue Sky You Tube Video.

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by jedi View Post
    From your OP I expect you are already doing the above.
    Hi Jedi. Yep, absolutely, doing as much as I can to prep myself. Being in a regulatory business, we get pretty proficient at searching through government websites, and aside from the Gloin PPG book and an E6B, I'm not sure I ever actually spent money on aviation study materials. Everything is available online, including all my local VFR charts.

    And EVERY PPL school I've seen quotes the bare minimum regulated flight time for their quote. Most of them are good at pointing out that it's very rare to complete a PPL in the minimum, though, and several even offer their students' average hours to use as a baseline for planning your costs. The bottom line is, the quote displayed prominently on screen is likely 30% low after factoring in an additional 20 hours or so of rental and instructor costs.

    As for 3), PPG just for the perceived costs; no worries there. I've always loved parachute sports, and if it weren't for the bum knee I'd still be wracking up takeoffs in small aircraft but no landings. I enjoyed skydiving for the time under canopy, not really the free-fall. What I mean is, free-fall is fun and all, no doubt, but it was the canopy work that sucked me into the sport. PPG has been a fascination for years, and this isn't the first time I've seriously considered it as my path into aviation (was signed up for training in 2017 or 2018 but work projects got in the way, I had to cancel, and I cycled myself into the "well, maybe it's for the best" second-guessing routine.)

    I should try to get myself to the smaller public fields, make some contacts, though. I live about 2 nm from the west end of Cincinnati (CVG) runway 27, so it's a bit of a drive to get out to places that I know offer instruction or at least have a strong GA presence. That's a good idea, thanks.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by CHICAGORANDY View Post
    Also expect to outlay 'about' $1500 in discretionary money each month for aircraft rental, fuel, insurance etc.etc.etc.
    While I completely agree that going PPL is most likely a sure-fire route that I wouldn't regret, and if disposable funds weren't as limiting of a factor at this stage in my life we wouldn't even be having this conversation, nevertheless funds are unfortunately a factor, and a significant factor at that. The $1500-ish per month for rentals and sundries is exactly my major issue with the PPL route. I could technically make such an expenditure happen, but that would literally be all my savings potential per month. I simply cannot responsibly put myself or my family into such a marginal situation, not for a recreational hobby anyway. As much as I might love to go this route, it just doesn't pass my personal cost analysis and I don't realistically see that changing anytime soon. A sport certificate with LSA rental/purchases is a little better in the cost analysis, but still would be a bit of a stretch. And as you noted, renting LSAs is not nearly as simple as renting GA, so there's a clear negative to that cost-savings positive, at least until I'd be in a position to buy/build my own. (Not to mention, I HATE the idea of renting on principal. I hate that for the next few years, the wife and I have to rent our home. Might as well just wad up some $100 bills and light them on fire for as much long-term good renting does me. We're locked at the moment by school selection, but fortunately only for a few more years.)

    Of course, as was noted, there often can be other avenues into aviation aside from a school. I may not be able to afford the glass slippers, but dang-nabbit, I can shoot the bull with folks who already have their ticket to the ball. Who knows what opportunities might come out of casual conversations at the field? I can clean bugs from windshields and oil grime from cowl flaps with the best of them, or mow grass, sweep hangars, whatever. And if PPG can give me a convenient excuse to start lurking at the field and building those relationships, so be it. I dig holes for a living with a shovel or trowel and my extended family to this day cannot understand that I'm not hunting for dinosaurs; we archaeologists are used to a bit of displaying our meagerness and not getting embarrassed, lol! (I jest, of course. We're certainly not Indiana Jones, but neither are we the "burger-flippers" of the sciences either. Archaeology definitely pays the bills and I live comfortably, just not enough to be particularly care-free. And of course my own stupidity with money in my youth put me in such a situation, which could be significantly better today if I had made different choices decades ago. Live and learn.)

    So, my plan remains to get in the air by the method within my reach at this time. If I were 20 again, it'd be by hook or by crook to get in the air; but I'm not and other life responsibilities prevent me from being able to take that particular bull called PPL by the horns. Which is fine. I'm perfectly content with PPG being my starting point, and I know I will get a ton of enjoyment out of it, meet plenty of new people, learn a lot.

    As I said, who knows what the future holds? I'm still relatively young, there's lots of time to expand upon the skills I start learning in PPG. I'm still planning that in a few years, I'll get that Sport license, and maybe look to buy an LSA. Or not buy the LSA and stick with PPG. Or upgrade to a tandem PPG. Or skip Sport and go straight to PPL if the right circumstances come about. Who knows? For now, I just want to get my foot in the door. Preferably without loosing the leg in the process, lol.
    Last edited by cymrych79; 03-08-2021 at 01:50 PM.

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by robert l View Post
    At 74, I'm finally living the dream of having my own airplane and being able to fly practically anytime I want, the CFI is only instructing on the weekends so I have all week to get my fill. Did the $100 hamburger, BBQ, thing yesterday with 4 other airplanes to a destination I'd never been to before, it was great and I logged another 2.3 hrs. To quote C.S. Lewis, "You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
    Bob
    That's awesome Robert, congrats! I'll get myself there someday!

    I couldn't agree more with the Lewis quote. The moment I decide to stop learning new things and bettering myself with new goals and dreams, and maybe more importantly, the moment I stop putting in the effort to reach for those goals, that's the moment I'm just sucking up oxygen. I've never handled listlessness well, and don't expect I ever could (thank goodness!)

  10. #20
    Quick update:

    Trigger, pulled. Deposit made, slated to start training at Midwest PPG on June 12th.

    Thanks again, all. You helped me sort my thoughts and formalize my decision, and gave me some good food for thought for the future.

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