Why So Few Partnerships?

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I get a steady stream of e-mail from subscribers complaining about the cost of flying. Imagine that. If there's a common theme, it's that "they" have ruined flying with usurious gas prices, unaffordable new airplanes, ever more regulation and…well, pick one complaint from Column A and one from B. The LSA rule was supposed to address that, but has it?

I've been doing a lot of reporting on this subject and last month we ran a survey asking about LSA ownership costs. It yielded a flood of data but there were two things that surprised me. One, the majority of the owners who responded own new or late-model SLSAs or ELSAs. Given the complaints about high costs, I'd have expected the reverse—more legacy LSAs like Champs and Cubs, fewer new models. Second, a surprisingly small number of owners are in partnerships—just 7 percent.

That I really don't get. The single most potent way to defuse the cost of owning and flying an airplane is a partnership. That's especially true if the airplane is an LSA, which is relatively inexpensive to begin with. I've been in five partnerships myself and know the ups and downs. But I've never found the downs particularly off-putting, at least when measured against dividing the ownership nut by three or four.

As part of my research, I ran some numbers on the four-way legacy Cub that I'm a partner in. The thing is almost absurdly cheap. Added up for a year, the total for 50 or so hours of flying is about $2480 or about $49 an hour, all in. Since we aren't running a reserve fund worthy of the name, we do have looming liabilities for an engine overhaul or re-cover. Historically, many owners of little-used airplanes sell them before they get to that point. We'll see which way we go.

So $2500 a year is about as cheap as it gets and works out to a fraction of even a moderately priced car payment or maybe a third to half of the weekly grocery budget. In other words, you don't have give up your daily Starbucks or strip the kids' college fund to afford it. (On the other hand, you're not taking your wife to Miami for the weekend in a Champ unless you live in Miami. Even then, pencil in a half day.)

So why there aren't more partnerships baffles me. Maybe most people just don't like sharing an expensive thing like an airplane, but for me, I couldn't stand not sharing it. AOPA has a good find-a-partner service evolved from David Kruger's Aircraft Partnership Association. These services establish a database of partnerships looking for members and would-be members looking for partners. I think they're making inroads, but perhaps haven't tapped much of the potential yet.

One last thing I observed in the survey: the level of satisfaction among those who do own LSAs—new or legacy—is quite high. There were few complaints that owners thought the airplanes were over-priced toys that didn't deliver value commensurate with the investment. Most owners seem to view them as fun little recreational vehicles to putt around the sky in with expectations not much beyond that. And really, isn't that all they're supposed to be?

Comments (61)

There are so many cheap used planes on the market, there is no economic reason to buy new anything. Buying new means taking a huge financial hit on depreciation on top of the normal costs of fuel, maintenance, insurance, hanger, etc.
There is also the culture here in the States of private ownership. Few people want sharing of cars, houses, or airplanes. The culture is for Joe Anyone to be able to afford private cars, private homes, and private airplanes. if the want. The dream is private stuff, not shared stuff.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 8, 2012 8:23 PM    Report this comment

Mark - I agree - it's private stuff not shared stuff. Possibly also some legal concerns, those who are well off might not want another person operating an airplane in which they are a part owner.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | July 8, 2012 9:04 PM    Report this comment

Most of these boomer and military retirees I meet want cross-country-quick travel anytime they want it (but I wonder how many really do it) and they give me the impression they don't want any hassles like down time finding parts for old, near-death aircraft, no matter how cheap they can purchase one for. Rightly or not, to them, old means extra work and endless costs, and new, despite the drawbacks, means hassle-free for the few years at least they want to fly now. A lot of these guys aren't really hangar hangout types either - just get in it and go.

To be honest and now thinking about it, my experience with renting before building my homebuilt was probably the semi-subconscious reason I didn't seek out a partnership. The scheduling hassles, trash left in the cabin, seemingly down more than flying aircraft molded my opinion against partnerships. It's not accurate, of course, because one would know your partners better than that, but I'll admit to thinking that then. I also liked to fly a 152 for the shorter fun flights and an Archer or 172 for the three of us for cross-countries. Now it's me plus one always.

Posted by: David Miller | July 8, 2012 11:41 PM    Report this comment

When I managed a fixed-base flight school, we had an enrollment of 20 students per training aircraft. Nobody ever wanted for an airplane. Since 1987, I've had a flying club that owns a full-IFR Tomahawk, based in a private T-hangar. We used to have 10 members and a waiting list, and nobody ever wanted for the airplane. (Worst-case scenario was that you had to go at noon instead of at 10 am.)

In recent years, membership has dwindled to two (2)!!! Forgive me for concluding that a wet rate of $41 per hour is NOT a primary reason that pilots are flying less these days. With the exception of former students who've gone on to fly professionally, the people who left the club aren't flying elsewhere – they're not flying at all.

Unless you're in a 4-way partnership in which each member logs several hundred hours per year, an (incorporated) partnership provides nearly the same level of access as sole-ownership, while cutting your costs by a ridiculous factor.

Why aren't there more partnerships? Great question, Paul.

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | July 9, 2012 6:35 AM    Report this comment

Our partnership was incorporated in 1980. We've been flying our current aircraft since 1990. We've been fortunate that the current owners have become good friends and we've weathered 9/11 and the normal turnover of pilots hanging up their headsets. Flying regularly as safety pilot for each other in order to maintain IFR proficiency is SOP. We look forward to our annual pilgrimage together to Sun-n-Fun. Our wives have become friends too and join us for the annual Christmas brunch. So I couldn't agree more with Paul that partnership arrangements are a smart way to go.

Posted by: JAMES GRANT | July 9, 2012 7:31 AM    Report this comment

I tried for at least a year to find at least 2 other people that had:
A - the money to put into something inexpensive like a C-150/152 (about $6000).
B - the same mission (fun, occasional short cross-country).
C - light enough to use a C-150 with reasonable payload left for a passenger.
I had no luck. Everyone I found that was interested in a partnership:
A - Didn't have the cash available or could not handle the cost of ownership.
B - wanted something fast and expensive (Mooney, C-182, etc.) for traveling around the country.
C - were too fat to fit into something economical like a C-152/152/140, Luscombe, Ercoupe, etc.

I finally was able to get into an existing partnership in a C-152 after one of the members moved away. If it was't for that I would not have had the year of flying I did before my wife quit working, the kids got bored, and I had to sell my share of the aircraft.
An LSA was never even discussed as a possibility due to initial cost and the need to tie the aircraft down outside due to the high cost of hangars. If you want an inexpensive, all-metal, 2-seat aircraft, there are really very few options, and an LSA isn't one of them.
The combination of scarce funds, differing mission profiles, and fat pilots was enough to prevent me from finding partners, even with the use of David Kruger's APA.

Posted by: Scott Thomason | July 9, 2012 7:38 AM    Report this comment

"old means extra work and endless costs, and new, despite the drawbacks, means hassle-free for the few years at least they want to fly now."

There's some truth to this. In the case of our Cub, things like tires and brake friction pads are either expensive or hard to find. C-65s are getting difficult to overhaul. The aftermarket provides, but not everything all the time. We spent about $400 on maintenance one year, $1900 the next, so the costs are hardly endless, despite the perception.

This may explain the tilt toward new. But even for the buyers of new LSAs, there's surprising cost/value satisfaction. Having gotten into the things, the owners don't express much buyers remorse. On the other hand, deciding to buy new in the first place predisposes them to enjoy the results, whether in partnerships or sole ownership.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 9, 2012 7:46 AM    Report this comment

Been in some partnerships but never had good experiences. In one there was someone who booked the plan every moment he could but tried to have everyone else pay for his flying by expecting everyone else to pay their full share of an engine replacement and rejected the concept of paying for the engine out of the hourly flying. Wanted to be able to fly cheaply and then had a hissy fit when someone (not me but a Doctor who was a partner) wanted to fly away for a couple of days as he just might want to fly on those days. Another partnership was operating illegally both as a group and the aircraft which was not airworthy, when I demanded that everything be made legal and the aircraft airworthy before I joined they wanted to kill me.

No sorry no partnership for me I'm just too stupid to join a good one.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | July 9, 2012 8:00 AM    Report this comment

I have been a member in flying "partnerships" three times, all of which were more or less successful. The difficult part, as Scott Thomason stated, is finding compatible partners in your local area. Also in my area there is a flying club with four single engine Pipers and Cessnas, no LSAs. This club has been in existence for decades and sometimes is full, sometimes not. In this club, typically a rather small number of the members do the vast majority of the actual flying, so even though there are at least 10 members per airplane, access is rarely an issue.

Posted by: Thom Riddle | July 9, 2012 8:16 AM    Report this comment

It's an American cultural thing, plus aircraft ownership was more possible in the past when our taxes were lower. Attitudes however are changing, we have many such partnerships in my large EAA chapter here in central NC. Everything from Cubs to Wichita Spam Cans to Cirrus and even a Yak-52. The local huge Wings of Carolina Flying Club has a large fleet of aircraft, produce dozens of new pilots annually and continue to grow. Times are changing.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | July 9, 2012 8:28 AM    Report this comment

"old means extra work and endless costs..."

How old is "old" here? In my flying club, we have a 1980 Archer II and a 2000 Archer III, and it's the Archer III that actually has been the money pit. Sure, it gets scheduled and flies more often, but not that much more. Besides that, the Archer II has better payload and performs better than the Archer III.

"Been in some partnerships but never had good experiences."

I'm in the process of buying a plane with 3 other partners, and this will be my first foray into a partnership. I have good reason to believe it will work out well, because they are people I fly frequently with in my flying club, and we've all decided we have the time and money and opportunity to buy a plane. We also fly about the same number of hours each year (around 70-80 each), and except when we intentionally all go flying at the same time, our flying patterns don't overlap a huge amount. Time will tell how it works out, but I'm certainly excited.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 9, 2012 8:43 AM    Report this comment


Looking at the numbers, we figure that our 4-way partnership in an Archer II will actually be slightly less to own and operate than to use the aircraft in our flying club. Insurance can be quite less when all but one of us is instrument rated, and there are only 4 pilots with 400+ hours each.

So why don't more people enter into partnerships? My guess is that the up-front payment to purchase a share on a decent traveling plane makes people think they'd be better off just owning by themselves. It's not an entirely logical conclusion, but that's my guess. Long-term costs are lower in a partnership than a club or owning alone, but people generally don't seem to look at the long-term view.

And as someone else pointed it, it could be an American thing: they mythical "dream" is for everyone to own their own things, be it a house, a car, a plane, a boat, whatever. I think it's a "dream" that only makes sense for very few people, but it's pervasive nonetheless.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 9, 2012 8:49 AM    Report this comment

I'm in my third partnership, two Mooneys and a Cessna Skymaster. All have been great, but it's important to establish rules and understandings before signing up. Airplanes spend 95% of their lives rotting in hangers, I've found no reason to not have one or more partners.

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 9, 2012 9:09 AM    Report this comment

Interesting blog and comments! Part of the issue is cultural, but I do think there are a number of pilots who'd be interested in partnerships if they were available and well-managed. Plus, LSA partnerships are an excellent way for NEW pilots to get a taste of ownership. Making new aircraft ownership accessible to new pilots or potential pilots is part of the allure of partnerships I think. Especially if the partnership results in greatly reduced costs and reduced hassles of ownership. (Remember, the main goal here is to grow the number of pilots and owners -that benefits us all and ensures the future of our industry and passion!)
This is where we come in. Who's "we?" Aviation Access Project is a new company who's mission is to place pilots in fractional shares of new LSAs for an upfront cost and monthly fee. No per hour fees are needed and professional management is included. How much? How about your initial payment about 60% of the cost of the average new car? And a monthly fee less than the average new car payment. (Much less, actually!) I will not use this forum to advertise our product, but do know we are out there and we offer what I think is a solution that maximizes the benefits of ownership while minimizing the hassles of shared ownership and management.
We believe that shared ownership is the doorway to increased access to private aviation and a great way to build the community of pilots.

Posted by: LEONARD ASSANTE | July 9, 2012 9:20 AM    Report this comment


Reason #1 we have so few is the male ego. A worthless, self-destructive force. Seriously. To deny it, proves it. We all want the status of having our own, even if it rots on the flight line.

Secondly, people are afraid of assessments. Not enough is collected to provide the necessary reserve funds for things, so BAM here it comes unannounced.

What will it take to get that more out into the mainstream?


MANAGED OWNERSHIP. FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP. This is the answer. A growing group of us in the US are getting this message out in an initiative called the Aviation Access Project. At the core of this effort is aircraft ownership. A share of SOMETHING to allow more pilots to buy in and stay in. With skin in the game, we have fewer dropouts. In fact, we did this as an answer to the AOPA report last fall on the Pilot Retention Initiative. This project will lower the 80% rate down to 25%. It will also attract hundreds of thousands of new people to aviation. No more hand-wringing. No more lamenting about the cost of aviation. There are so many easy things we can do to turn this industry around. AOPA can't do it all, but if it would only allow the entrepreneurial spirit of passionate people out there work it's magic and support it, magic will indeed happen.

Renting has caused much of the dropout in both student pilot and licensed pilots. We need to steer people into ownership, even if it's just a sliver. It can be done. We're doing it.

Posted by: Rick Matthews | July 9, 2012 9:36 AM    Report this comment

My first airplane was a partnership with a good friend. After that I decided it was either whole hog on no hog. If I lived somewhere with the pilot population to support a club, I might be interested.

Posted by: Richard Montague | July 9, 2012 9:45 AM    Report this comment

a couple of comments. i am in a partnership and it is not good my partner stopped talking and contributing money. i can afford the aircraft since i am an mechanic. i have been looking for another partner and hear the typical excuse of no money. ask others that have been in partnerships and majority will tell you that partnerships are bad. as for the aopa partnership program they want money to post a partnership since it is not the aopa doing it. i donot feel that i should have to pay. i am not a commercial enterprise just a private owner looking for another partner. the commercial fractional ownership programs do not make sense to me since it cost money wether you fly or not, since they need to make money to keep people to manage the program.LSA great concept but the same reasons crop up not enough money. i am a cfi and i always tell new people that a partnership is the way to go, but there are few takers.

Posted by: rags rettzo | July 9, 2012 9:56 AM    Report this comment

Richard M.: I would be interested (actually interested, not trolling) in why you decided that.

rags r.: On the other hand, the "majority" of people I've talked/listened to have said partnerships are good things. It all depends on who you talk to.

One common thread is that it is absolutely essential that you find the right partner(s), or it will not work out. Partnering with a friend is not necessarily the best way to go, if you both tend to want to fly at the same time, but have different destinations in mind. Also, the partnership agreement has a lot to do with smoothing out relations early on. My partners and I spent quite a bit of time coming up with a fair agreement, and proper clauses on what to do with delinquent members or how to exit the partnership for whatever reason.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 9, 2012 10:05 AM    Report this comment

rags rettzo - there are some things you need to know more about to help you with a more positive perspective.

Typical joint ownerships will not work. If they were all that aviation would be all that. Instead, they are weak, loose, lacking in money, and NOT ENOUGH PARTNERS IN IT TO REDUCE THE COMPLAINING. The solution is Managed Ownership. With this, you have harmony PLUS a ridiculously low cost way to own. Managed Ownership must include a profit motive to pay for their services. Everything must include the profit motive in order to stay accountable and operating well.

Re AOPA Partnership Program. My good friend David Kruger has worked tirelessly and at great cost to set this program up for the advancement of an essential service that nobody has done before. Therefore there is a cost to this. To deny that and complain about a fee is not fair.

LSA has not done anybody any favors due to the $120k+ price tag. However, fractional 1/8 shares in one makes A LOT of sense. The cost for something new again becomes ridiculously low. Don;t let the ego even begin to question availability - there are already over 4000 daylight hours in a year. Want your plane to rot due to lack of use?

There is a way to make all of this happen. To keep denying it and doing it the old way is just perpetuating the 80% dropout rate....

Posted by: Rick Matthews | July 9, 2012 10:23 AM    Report this comment

Rick, I couldnt disagree more. My joint ownership experience has been very positive. It's based on an agreement and understanding going in. Without the foundation, agreement and understanding, there's room for issues to develop.
Managed ownership merely adds an expensive middle man who managesmy airplane. No thanks, I'll do that myself and save the $.
I tried the aopa partnership site as well. It's not user friendly. I couldnt find potential partners and come to find out, they coudnt find me. It's way too complicated and there's a serious glitch in the messaging. David needs to sit down with a non-user and watch them try to struggle their way through it.

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 9, 2012 10:58 AM    Report this comment

I suspect the partnership idea works better near larger population centers. Here in Port Townsend, there aren't any ads on the bulletin board of people looking for buy-ins, although there are a couple of planes I'd love to have a share of. If I were willing to drive an hour to Bremerton, there are options, but that kind of defeats the purpose for me. (Even driving 15 minutes to the airport is off-putting for those spontaneous 30 minute joy rides.) As to selling a share in my 182--I know I should at least try this, but with a nearly run-out engine, I'm not sure how much interest I'd get. $2500/year for hangar, $1000 insurance, $1500 annual, for 60 hours a year is $83/hour not counting fuel and maintenance. It's not a pretty financial picture, and if I didn't use the plane for a 3-week northern Canada trip every summer I would sell it.

Posted by: DAVID CHULJIAN | July 9, 2012 11:48 AM    Report this comment

Gary, in answer to your question;
In the 1970s the partnership was based on the boilerplate agreement available at no charge from AOPA. At that time both of us were students taking training. From the first I was the managing partner and did most of the recordkeeping, bill paying and making sure maintenance was done. My partner was a bit haphazard and slow on his recordkeeping and often slow in paying. We had some issues with scheduling. Minor stuff really. The problem came when I had the plane scheduled one morning and it was gone and didn't show up the rest of the day. That night I got a phone call from a sherrif's office about 80 miles away informing me the plane was wrecked in a field.
My partner, still a student pilot, had put his wife child and a friend in the plane and flown cross country to see some relatives. The plane had been low on fuel when he took off, he flew past three airports without refueling had buzzed his relatives to let them know to pick him up at the nearby airport. He was about five miles from the airport when the fuel ran out. So he was flying passengers, ran out of fuel and substantially damaged the plane. I was also exposed to a third party lawsuit that thankfully never materialized.

Posted by: Richard Montague | July 9, 2012 12:41 PM    Report this comment

Richard: Yeah, that is a risk you take with multiple ownership. I don't know how the AOPA agreement has changed (if at all) since then, but we have used basically that same agreement with a few minor modifications to suit our use. We've also set up an LLC to actually own the plane, to hopefully shield us from lawsuits due to another's actions. It still won't do much if one of us destroys the plane, of course, but at least we all have several years of history of flying with each other, so hopefully we'll avoid something as drastic as you did.

Thanks for the info.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 9, 2012 12:54 PM    Report this comment

David, take all of the expenses you listed and divide hem by two..... Feel better? AOPA aircraft valuation is a good place to start on the value of your airplane. We established a value for our airplane and put in engine use deposits do that between the value of the aircraft plus the engine fund, the value of our assets remains constant. If you sold half you could put some of that in the bank as engine fund, the person buying in gets one of their money back, a good deal both ways.

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 9, 2012 1:27 PM    Report this comment

David, take all of the expenses you listed and divide hem by two..... Feel better? AOPA aircraft valuation is a good place to start on the value of your airplane. We established a value for our airplane and put in engine use deposits do that between the value of the aircraft plus the engine fund, the value of our assets remains constant. If you sold half you could put some of that in the bank as engine fund, the person buying in gets one of their money back, a good deal both ways.

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 9, 2012 1:27 PM    Report this comment

Just like in business, the only ship that won't sail? The partnership. Getting out the checkbook changes all relationships. Hence, not doing business with friends and family!

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | July 9, 2012 1:27 PM    Report this comment

I'm in a 50/50 partnership in a Mooney Bravo. My partner and I are "best friends" so much of our flying is together. It's nice to have some to fly with plus two qualified pilots are a whole lot safer than one. I hear a lot of guy complain that their wives don't like to fly. I think three or four partners would be fine as long as no one is a cheapskate. I used to own a Ferrari and the guys at the dealership called me, "The guy who drives the car" because I put so many miles on it. I always argued that low milage cars have corrosion issues--same with planes, they need to be flown.

Posted by: Thomas Reilly | July 10, 2012 1:29 PM    Report this comment

Flying is freedom. America is based on personal property. WHY would anyone want a "partnership"? We need to make strides to make flying cheaper and available for the masses, not a road toward exclusivity like in Europe.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 10, 2012 6:21 PM    Report this comment

I have worked with many co-ownerships advising the owners on legal and tax issues. I have posted a sample co-ownership agreement to my website which is free for anyone to download as a starting point (www.AircraftTax.com). I will be posting more details in the days to follow on the site. It is important to work with local counsel familiar with state law isues, but I intend for this to be a guide and reduce the time necessary for counsel unfamiliar with aircraft ownership issues - as most are not.

Posted by: SCOTT HORTON | July 10, 2012 7:16 PM    Report this comment

WHY would anyone want a "partnership"? >

The answer is given in the blog quite clearly.

Maybe one's view on personal property and how it is to be used plays a part in those willing to enter partnerships, also. Everyone has their own ideas and limitations on how to grow aviation and keep current and involved. Your point to make strides to make flying cheaper and more available, that's sorta what partnerships can accomplish, no?

Posted by: David Miller | July 10, 2012 7:41 PM    Report this comment

I have been involved in two good partnerships. You have to take time to know your partners before jumping into a deal. I think it is extremely important that partners have similar personalities, similar piloting experience, similar financial situations, and similar views on risk. This avoids a lot of the issues mentioned throughout this blog. As Thomas says, the best outcome is that you have a good friend(s) to go flying with on Saturday morning. I think it is also good to treat the airplane as if it were a business. Put the airplane in a LLC or corporation, and make sure the expenses are communicated and understood among the partners. I always think in terms of "the" airplane instead of "my" airplane. Yes that is not as fun, but it sure is a lot cheaper!

Posted by: STEVE BOWLING | July 10, 2012 11:59 PM    Report this comment

"the" airplane instead of "my" airplane.

That's the key philosophical divide to cross. For me, personally, pride of ownership is a non-starter. I don't really care much about the "things" in my life, and I have far too many of them. (Anybody wanna buy a used motorcycle?)

It's the people and the activity I care about. Give me access at a price I can afford. When we had our Mooney partnership, it was a $120,000 asset split three ways. So I got all the access I wanted--far more really, because the airplane didn't fly much--for 33 cent dollars. It's a no brainer unless you just don't care about or have a lot of money.

There are give ups. You may have to tolerate the foibles of your other partners and suppress your own. The managing partner will usually do all the work for the same access. You don't have freedom of movement to upgrades, maintenance and repairs and so forth.

Big deal. If I get to keep 66 cents of every airplane dollar, I'm good with that.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 11, 2012 6:04 AM    Report this comment

For all of you that already own the entire "my airplane", you are where 90% of all pilots would like to be.

Yes, it's true. According to a survey conducted by AOPA a few years ago, only 10% of all licensed pilots are involved in some form of aircraft ownership. That's a lot of non-owners.

Imagine what the industry would look like if at least half of those were aircraft owners - at least a partnership share. It would be a different world, indeed, at our local airports.

I'm betting those guys would be very willing to tolerate the foibles of others and suppress their own in order to have equity ownership in SOMETHING instead of NOTHING.

It can be done, and it is slowly being done.

Posted by: Rick Matthews | July 11, 2012 9:29 AM    Report this comment

"When we had our Mooney partnership, it was a $120,000 asset split three ways"

You're rich.
I have 2 fun fast planes with full ownership for 30K.
Plane ownership SHOULD be like car ownership; available by the common man.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 11, 2012 6:19 PM    Report this comment

Mark, what fast airplanes can you own for $30k?

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 11, 2012 7:32 PM    Report this comment

Cheetah. Nuff said.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 11, 2012 8:41 PM    Report this comment

Mark, I'm glad you're enjoying your aircraft. But, by definition, there's no such thing as a fast LSA. I'm not aware of a fast airplane for $30k. I own half of a Mooney 201. That still doesn't qualify as fast but it's all the speed I can afford.....

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 11, 2012 10:12 PM    Report this comment

"Plane ownership SHOULD be like car ownership; available by the common man."

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 12, 2012 6:12 AM    Report this comment

Ron, please define "fast". Back in the 70's my wife and I covered the east coast in a Luscombe 8F. At 125 MPH it was fast enough for us to fly from western NC to Maine or Florida in a day.

Posted by: Richard Montague | July 12, 2012 8:52 AM    Report this comment

Richard, my (partner owned) Mooney 201 flight plans 161 kts, about 190 MPH. I can get from LIT to ORL in 3:30, back in 4:15 with headwinds. To me, it's slow, but as fast as I can afford to go ion a regular basis. I fly a Pilatus, it cruises at 260, seems slow. I also fly a Premier, .80m, 450+. The DME clicks off at a reasonable rate in it. I used to fly F-4's, F-16's. In the F-16 I could cruise at 49,999 at .99M, get almost 1 GPH. That was FAST...
If it can't go much faster than I can drive, it's not fast... :)

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 12, 2012 10:19 AM    Report this comment

I have been looking into setting up a partnership with a good friend of mine. First thing we did when we decided to do this was not open up Trade-a-Plane, but instead to lay down some realistic costs involved in ownership, and how we would handle it.
Then we drew up a legal agreement between the two of us, involving scheduling, maintenance, upgrades, everything.

Why, when we're very good, trusting friends, would we go through such legal hassle, usually reserved for someone you don't know?

I remind you of an old addage of Ronald Reagan's, "Trust but Verify".

I think one of the problems people have with partnership is the risk to themselves should their partner do something stupid. There are ways around this, but one must be willing to do the legwork to protect themselves.

We looked at how much money we were spending renting 172s (renting for 120+/hour, when you're flying 100 hours a year, is a lot of money). We decided the best plan of action was to pool our resources and form an LLC through which to purchase an IFR-equipped 152. The reality of our flying at this time is that we do not really have a need for more than two seats; if we're not solo, than we're flying together.
For myself and my partner, partnership is the only logical way either of us could afford to fly more. But, in order for it to work, we had to set aside our egos, and even our friendship, and protect ourselves.

Posted by: Steven Wood | July 12, 2012 11:10 AM    Report this comment

Even marriages have contracts why not aircraft partnerships. If you go for the limited company route then you need to have a contract anyway as there can be more than two shareholders at any one time

Posted by: Bruce Savage | July 12, 2012 12:16 PM    Report this comment

At 250 hours personal flying a year - a 50% partnership in a C150 was simply not going to save enough to make me go it alone and know I could fly WHENEVER I wanted to. I've run the spreadsheet a number of ways and if I dropped to 150 hours a year then it might work. But at 250+ I want the plane available anytime and left just how I want it.

There is an artificial glut of cheap used aircraft out there. The 30-40 year old aircraft have held up surprisingly well and because fewer people are flying - there are a lot to choose from so prices are artificially depressed. There is no depreciation worth talking about on a $30-40,000 airplane so buying new just doesn't work. This is why LSA has not taken off. Wait for the very large pool of used aircraft to wear out or become too expensive to fix and new aircraft will sell again.

As they are age out through wastage (accidents, corrosion, beyond economic repair etc) this will start to reduce the pool. But the pilot population is still shrinking so planes remain in surplus and relatively cheap. Right now you can choose to scrap for parts or spend an increasingly large amount of money keeping a plane going or go look for another one in good condition for not a lot of money. But the economic used supply will eventually run out and then you will have to go buy a Skycatcher - or equivalent.

And if that base price Skycatcher $112,250 price tag chokes you.

Posted by: Graeme Smith | July 12, 2012 1:07 PM    Report this comment


Take a 1960 Cessna 150 - base price $8,545 for the Commuter. The purchasing power of $8,545 1960 $ is now:

$64,900.00 using the Consumer Price Index
$52,100.00 using the GDP deflator
$73,700.00 using the unskilled wage
$90,400.00 using the Production Worker Compensation
$142,000.00 using the nominal GDP per capita
$245,000.00 using the relative share of GDP

(MeasuringWorth.com - 2011 $)

The Skycatcher is either better value or you are being ripped off - depending on which inflation index you want to use. The Skycatcher comes better equipped than a Commuter ever did with intercom, Mode C, and a VFR GPS. They were not in the original Commuter. I'm beginning to think airplanes have not REALLY gone up in price compared to 1960. But I WILL grant you that the running costs of oil and gas have.

Posted by: Graeme Smith | July 12, 2012 1:07 PM    Report this comment

People don't want "shared". The whole point of the new flying cars is that you DON'T NEED a rental car. You have a personal car and personal plane combined. That's Americana.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 12, 2012 8:21 PM    Report this comment

"The whole point of the new flying cars is that you DON'T NEED a rental car."

The whole point of flying cars is to tickle the fancy of the dingbats who think they'll actually work. Flying cars are nut factor, not real transportation options.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 13, 2012 8:17 AM    Report this comment

Ah geewiz Paul I had such great dreams of flying my car to a distant airport (those that are still available) and then driving to the local shops to have that coffee before return home. Got to think of something else maybe para-glider then I park the car while I fly. Only problem is parking is in such short supply and very expensive. Lol

Posted by: Bruce Savage | July 13, 2012 8:50 AM    Report this comment

Speaking of parachutes, look at the Maverick.


Can someone tell me why this is more than a novelty? It's a powered parachute with wheels.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 13, 2012 10:13 AM    Report this comment

Nothing new though. Saw a three wheeler road worthy vehicle that can be flown using a parachute in South Africa 2001/2. President of Botswana has one and uses it a lot. He was featured in a TV Program "Top Gear". Was wondering why it was not developed further. Now seems someone has. Thank Paul. Me thinks that maybe you should write an article on such developments and why/what are the problems.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | July 13, 2012 4:07 PM    Report this comment

There's really no technical problem with the Maverick. It's just a powered parachute with a cabin. The larger issue is practicality. It cruises in the air at 40 MPH, on the ground at 70. In many cases, it may be faster to drive.

It was designed for use in the jungle areas of South and Central American where there are no roads. Makes sense. But there's not much demand to make a going industry of it. Fooling with that parachute is a hassle.

The Terrafugia, on the other hang, is a whole 'nother thing. It has weight and structure issues that may make it both a marginal car and a worse airplane. We'll see if they overcome these.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 13, 2012 6:02 PM    Report this comment

I agree the South African vehicle was for the desert areas where there are no roads and if one is put down it quickly disappears under the sand. What was so funny was the motorcycle motorcade and the President flying above it moving across the desert.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | July 14, 2012 5:20 AM    Report this comment

The Terrafugia is seriously dumb. It costs twice what most LSAs cost. You can rent a lot of cars for $150,000.

Posted by: Thomas Reilly | July 14, 2012 5:44 PM    Report this comment

I truly don't understand how so many pretty damn good LSAs have become available during one of the worst aviation recessions in history. There certainly aren't enough customers for these companies--how do they expect to stay in business?

Posted by: Thomas Reilly | July 14, 2012 6:05 PM    Report this comment

Thomas, I think the reason is that part of LSA worked as intended. Relaxed regulation lowered the cost of entry, thus a bunch of products.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 15, 2012 6:45 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps if you actually used a responsible pricing model, you wouldn't have to put out this piece and complain about how many people are not in a partnership.

Posted by: Amy Zucco | July 17, 2012 3:42 PM    Report this comment

Responsible pricing model? Perhaps you can illuminate us on what this means

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 18, 2012 8:35 AM    Report this comment

I've been in a 5-way partnership for a few years. There has been a core of partners throughout and a few more transient (not to imply that those were "lesser" partners, they've all been great. Hi Scott.).
The main reasons for joint ownership are cost, cost and cost. If money were no object then dealing with partnership issues -- scheduling, liability for others, legal and financial housework -- would serve no purpose. But I don't live in that world.
The hardest thing about joint ownership is finding compatible partners. It isn't easy though we've been extremely fortunate on that count. You simply must have compatible mission plans, pocketbooks, risk profiles, and even egos. Yes, it's a challenge but my experience has been highly positive.

Posted by: Glenn Killinger | July 18, 2012 3:39 PM    Report this comment

Just a thought. How many partnerships refuse someone because of their weight? One partnership I was involved in rushed through a young overweight (300 lb) person who had lots of money. That person was given the necessary orientation for the aircraft. I have to take my hat off to the aircraft It took off flew around and landed several time in that very overweight condition (nearly twice the limit). No one considered the weight and balance of the aircraft for any flight. When this was later pointed out in a members meeting there was nearly a riot and a few months later the aircraft was sold and a new one, one that would not be weight illegal, was purchased.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | July 19, 2012 4:27 AM    Report this comment

Paul, it's PRIVATE aviation and PRIVATE pilots. That's why people do not want non-private (group) ownership. It's that simple.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 21, 2012 9:36 PM    Report this comment

I wouldn't consider owning an expensive assett that spends 98% of its life not moving without offering the benefit to others as an investment. I guess my ego is smaller than others. C

Posted by: RONALD MOORE | July 21, 2012 9:45 PM    Report this comment

My partnership is a nightmare. On the surface it could be construed as a good deal. We have 3 and I'm the only one that can fly it. One member is no longer paying any of the fixed cost and am at my wits ends on what to do legally since I really don't have the funds to battle him in court and the 2000 he owes isn't quit worth the court battle yet. So I'm stuck insuring maintaining and hangar someone else asset. I've tried buying him out but he demands 1990 values which is almost 100% over book value.
To be clear am funding maintenance on a hourly basis for every hour I fly it. I pay the full hull insurance and I do all the physical maint under the direction of my IA. Our agreement is the liability, the hangar and the remaining balance of the maint cost after the kitty is exhausted is split evenly. For three years the kitty has more than paid for the maint with 20 an hour being applied. hangar, taxes and insurance had left the partner owning me almost 2 grand after 3 years. So I'm stuck with a plane I cannot sell or buy out, hopfully the partner will die and buy it out under the family trust. The only other option is run the engine out and take the share went the maint cost exceeds the value of the aircraft with is about 25k.

Posted by: Brian Stevens | March 1, 2015 5:18 PM    Report this comment

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