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Buy an aircraft

You know you want to

Flying’s in your blood, and it’s not going anywhere. You love flying, and you’re ready to take that commitment to the next level. Why not buy an aircraft?
Photography by Mike Fizer
Photography by Mike Fizer

But not the first one you see. Start with a plan and make smart decisions to ensure a long, enjoyable relationship with your airplane.

What’s your mission? How will you use the aircraft? Will you be taking long trips or short hops in your region? Is a single seat enough, or do you want one, two, or three more seats to bring along friends and family? Once you narrow that focus, you’re ready to choose some makes and models.

What’s your airplane? Now comes the fun part: shopping for the airplane that best suits your mission requirements. Scour Barnstormers.com, Trade-A-Plane, and other aviation websites; don’t forget Facebook, which has numerous pages and groups specifically for aircraft sales and partnership opportunities. Set your budget and get whatever financing you need in place. Contact an aviation insurance company to determine what type of policy you’ll need. Finding the perfect airplane can take weeks or months. Be patient and don’t flip for the first pretty face you see.

Where will you keep it? Hangar or tiedown? Is there even any hangar space at your local airport?

Do the work. This is a big chunk of change you’re spending, so get a good prepurchase inspection (not by the mechanic who has been caring for it most recently) in addition to whatever “fresh annual” the seller is advertising. Check logbooks thoroughly for damage and maintenance history. A title search can determine if a preowned airplane has any liens, which you do not want.

There’s nothing more satisfying than opening up a hangar or driving out to a tiedown spot to see your airplane waiting just for you. Good luck on the hunt!

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Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

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