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Sky’s (not quite) the limit

What would you do with $1,000?

One of my favorite games to play is “If I won the Powerball, which airplanes would I buy?” (Why limit yourself to one airplane?)
Illustrations by John Sauer
Illustrations by John Sauer

With inflation and rising fuel prices putting a damper on our imaginations, here’s a more modest fantasy: What would you do with $1,000? Say you won a scratch-off ticket or got an unexpected tax refund (ha), with the stipulation that you could only use it on an airplane. What could you buy?

The obvious: “A full tank of fuel,” Lin Caywood of Frederick, Maryland, said without hesitation. Self-serve gas at Frederick Municipal Airport was running $6.65 a gallon the day I wrote this. Can you blame her?

Caywood had other ideas for her Cessna 182T: “A portable air-conditioning unit, a really good detailing, lambswool seat covers, and I’d forward pay my hangar rent for two months.” (Remember, we’re talking about hangar rent in Frederick, Maryland.)

  • Fuel: $598.5 (90 gallons at $6.65 per gallon).
  • Portable air conditioner: Arctic Air portable, $815. sportys.com
  • Aircraft detailing: Varies, but expect to pay $500 to $1,000
  • Lambswool seat covers: Starts at $328.99 each, so you could get the pilot and co-pilot covers and save the backseat for another time. covercraft.com

He'd also covet an electric bike that would fit in the back of the airplane.The mechanical: “I would get a B&C starter or alternator,” Editor at Large Dave Hirshman said. “Those are a great investment.” Hirschman, who owns a Van’s RV–4, also leaned toward some practical items: new tires and tubes (he’s a fan of Goodyear Flight Custom 3). He’d love to upgrade his aircraft cover and add a quilted engine cover that would help the RV’s oil pan warmer disperse heat throughout the entire engine during chilly months in the Mid-Atlantic.

  • B&C Specialty Products starter for a Lycoming engine: $715-$795; LX60 alternator, 60 amps, homebuilt: $615-$830. bandc.com
  • Tires: Goodyear Flight Custom III, $292.95 each. aircraftspruce.com
  • Bruce’s Custom Covers: RV–4 canopy cover, $460; engine cover, $400. aircraftcovers.com

The technical: With $1,000 you could upgrade an older iPad or other tablet and add a subscription to ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot, and try out a subscription to SiriusXM Aviation, which works with either app with a receiver. Charles Clinton, one of seven partners in a group that owns a 1978 Cessna 182Q, said he’d also covet a folding electrical bike that would fit in the back of the airplane, and another noise-canceling headset, though he didn’t specify which brand.

  • iPad mini with 256GB memory (you’ll need all that memory for the apps), from $649. apple.com
  • ForeFlight subscription, starts at $120 year. foreflight.com
  • Garmin Pilot subscription, starts at $79.99 per year. garmin.com
  • Sirius XM Aviation products, subscription starts at $29.99 per month. siriusxm.com
  • Lectrice Bike XP Step-Thru 2.0 Black folding electrical bike, weighs 64 pounds with battery, $999. lectricebikes.com

Fun stuff: AOPA Social Media Marketer Cayla McLeod is between airplanes—she most recently owned a Piper J–3 Cub—but she had several ideas of what she’d do if $1,000 dropped into her lap. If she were building the Super Cub of her dreams, she’d install Hooker harnesses, a USB port with a chronometer, or a Rosen sun visor. All can be had for under $1,000, with the unspent funds going to the maintenance shop for installation if needed.

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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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