Ron, the blogger behind the House of Rapp blog, has written a lengthy and informative post about affordable flying that is well worth reading by pilots and would-be pilots alike. Ron began his post by pointing out some startling flying statistics:
In 1980, the decennial census counted 226,545,805 people in the United States. That same year, the FAA reported more than 827,000 of those folks held pilot certificates. That’s about one out of every 300 people.
By the end of 2009, the U.S. population had climbed to nearly 30% to 307,000,000 while the pilot count had dropped by 25% to 594,000. Today less than one out out of every 500 Americans is a pilot.
And while explanations for the shrinking general aviation community have included everything from stepped up security at airports and increased litigation risks to even blaming flight instructors for high student pilot dropout rates, Ron concluded its due to the economy and the costs involved with flying.
However, Ron then wrote extensively about ways a pilot can lower their costs through partnerships and flying clubs. Moreover, he pointed out that you should not completely write-off owning your own aircraft because in a recent AOPA Online article, author Alton Marsh listed the following ten aircraft that you can purchase for less than $20,000:
- 1980 Piper Tomahawk
- 1953 Piper TriPacer
- 1961 Piper Colt
- 1961 Ercoupe
- 1972 Cessna 150
- 1946 Cessna 120
- 1946 Cessna 140
- 1946 Luscombe 8A
- 1946 Aeronca 11BC Super Chief
- 1946 Taylorcraft
With a typical 20 year aircraft loan, Ron pointed out that you could own a $20,000 aircraft for around $130 a month. Of course, maintenance and maintenance costs will always be a big question mark and an older aircraft may end up having a maintenance problem that will cost more to fix than the aircraft itself is worth.
Nevertheless, Ron’s point is simple: Flying will never be cheap but it can be affordable.