Fuzzy little things that I find interesting.

Political musings from someone who thinks the S-D curve is more important to politics than politicians.

Month: January, 2015

Finally bought the airplane.

So I finally purchased the airplane.

The final tally (for those interested in how much it costs to buy an airplane): $62,500 for the aircraft. Escrow and title was $550, of which I paid half. I paid another $182 to have the oil changed, and another $70 to fuel it up to fly it home.

The hanger is running me around $450/month at RDU through Landmark; this was because I paid a full year in advance, a lump sum of around $5400 or so. Insurance is costing me $1,250 per year.

My wife and I picked up the airplane; we drove down to South Carolina, and I picked up the airplane, flew it to Johnson County (to refuel), then to RDU. (Refueled in Johnson County because avgas there is sooooo much cheaper.) My wife drove to RDU, we flew around for a little bit, then came back and parked it in the hanger.

The annual is due in June, and I suspect my first annual will be several thousand; from what I hear each mechanic has their own list of things they look for, and things they let go–and so switching mechanics means a bunch of new things get found and fixed the other mechanic was missing. (This is not an inditement on mechanics; some people see a frayed wire and think nothing of it; another wants to rip out all the wiring to be safe.)

And so, I now own a Piper Arrow II.


Buying an airplane: escrow and hangers and stuff.

Just last week I finally came to an agreement with the seller of the airplane I’m looking to buy. It’s a nice Piper Arrow from 1974, complete with speed mods, a 430 (not WAAS), and an AM radio. (Okay, technically an ADF receiver.) It also has a nice 3-blade prop and the engine compressions in the logs seem to be excellent.

So we came to an agreement. The price we settled on was $62,500, and perhaps $1500 to $2500 more than I wanted to pay for the airplane–but then, I’ve never one to allow perfect to get in the way of good enough. There are a couple of minor niggles, naturally, for a 1974 airplane: the step is rusted (and I’ve already asked for it to be repaired or replaced), and the trim where the door meets the fuselage doesn’t look all that great. But by and large the airplane looks like it’s in great shape and has been well cared for (if the logs are to be believed) as well as hangered.

So yesterday I arranged a hanger at RDU, and dropped off a check and the paperwork for a TSA background check so I can actually drive onto the airport. The background check takes approximately 3 to 5 working days, so I should have a badge next week.

As to the hanger, it’s a very nice large hanger from Landmark Aviation, and the going rate is $490/month. (I got a discount by paying the entire first year’s rent all at once.)

Escrow and title was opened with AIC Title, which was recommended by one of the insurance companies I talked to. Their cost is around 1% of the purchase price of the airplane: around $625 in this case.

Now transferring title of the airplane–beyond money and a title search and title transfer, as well as registration in the great state of North Carolina, ‘natch–essentially requires the buyer to fill out form AC 8050-1, a tiny little carbon-paper based form which must be obtained in person from an FSDO (or can be mailed to you from an escrow company), which asks for the new owner’s name and signature, and form AC 8050-2, a bill of sale from the current owner, signed in ink.

Of course I’m getting the title search done; while everyone I’ve dealt with have been the nicest people I’ve encountered–trust but verify.

And of course the different airplane and purchase price (and hull value) means my insurance is slightly larger: it works out to be $1,250/year.

So on Friday I drive down to South Carolina for a second time to do the pre-buy inspection. I’ve opted to do an owner-assisted pre-buy inspection, which is where I get to spend an afternoon with the mechanic as we pour through everything with the airplane itself. I opted for this because I wanted to spend time looking at the aircraft and understanding it for myself.

And hopefully if the weather is good I’ll get a chance to actually fly the aircraft as well, as one of the conditions of sale. (To make sure the airplane flies true.)

And if all goes well, I plan to take posession of the airplane the following week, and arrange for a CFI in South Carolina to fly the airplane back to RDU, and I’ll give him a ride in my airplane (!) back to South Carolina.

Another airplane, but this one is very nice.

Of course you’re buying a 40 year old airplane, so “very nice” is relative: it’s not perfect, it wasn’t owned by someone who was refurbishing and repairing all the cosmetic issues, such as small chips on the leading edge of the wings and seats that really need to be reupholstered. But the airplane feels solid, there appears to be no corrosion, the avionics appears to work, and it looks like it would be a good buy.

This is for an Arrow II with relatively low hours, and more time on the engine than the previous–which to me is a good thing, because once you get to around 1000 hours on the engine, anything that was going to go wrong after a rebuild has probably already gone wrong.

The logs are complete, and it appears that aside from one relatively minor issue a couple of years ago there are no real problems. And the compressions look fantastic; all 78 or higher.

So I’ve sent the seller’s representative an offer on the airplane–which had only come on the market just a few weeks ago. We’ll see how this all works out.

I only have three issues that I’ve found with the airplane. It has speed mods but the owner hasn’t really waxed the airplane; turns out waxing your airplane can add a few knots to the cruise speed. The step into the airplane has a crack in it–but that step can be replaced fairly easily. And the door has a few bends and dings in it where it almost looks the at one point someone tried to close the door while a golf club was hanging out of the airplane.

But all of this is cosmetic, and over time I plan to address each of these issues.

The plusses: a Garmin 430 (not WAAS–but I don’t plan to shoot any low approaches using a GPS, since I see my IFR ticket as a way to safely get out of marginal VFR conditions and not a ticket to fly in bad weather), an up-to-date autopilot (bonus, since that was not listed on the info for the aircraft), and a very nice low-hour 3-blade McCauley scimitar prop.

Meanwhile I spoke (finally!) to the general manager of Landmark Aviation at RDU, and they have a hanger available. So I’m getting the paperwork on the hanger. It’s a very nice large hanger–but truth be told, well, it’s a hanger: a large metal box in which you park an airplane.

The price is $500/month, but if you pay a year in advance he’ll dock 1 month off the rent.

I’m getting the information through the mail now.