Since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of owning an airplane. For many years I thought about how cool it would be to be able to just take a plane and go somewhere. Whether it be a weekend camping trip or a $100 hamburger, there’s something exciting about getting in the air and going to places you normally couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I could take a car and still get there. So what is it about an airplane that makes it special?
Well first and foremost, I can’t explain the feeling flying gives you. It’s something special being above the birds, above the clouds, above the world. A new perspective. Second, the time. I’m not a fan of driving long distances. I get restless, bored, and need something different. Being able to go 180mph, direct, not have to slow down in small towns, stop for gas (as often). It adds up. And don’t forget autopilot!
Of course everything comes at a cost. Literally. The initial expense alone will probably be in the $80k range. The operating cost, well… That’s a tough one. Between insurance, ongoing maintenance, engine overhauls, eventual avionics upgrades, hanger costs, and gas; they add up quickly. $90 per flight hour is about what I’m expecting. Let’s include the initial cost into that to get a real value of flying. The life of the airplane is hard to guess, depending on how well it’s build and maintained, lets guess conservatively 4000 hours. Some math says each flight hour is now $110, which equates to $.61 per mile. Compared to the U.S. Governments vehicle cost per mile of $.57. That’s not much more! So what is it that makes flying seem so much more expensive? Well many of the costs are fixed yearly costs, so the more you fly the cheaper it is. That is why flying clubs are so popular.
Note: This was written and calculated in 2019, prior to COVID. Much has changed since then. As of 2022, it’s now looking like a finished price of $120k.
If you want to know more, you should check out why build vs buy? And why the RV-7?
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