The New York Times recently (March 14) ran a story profiling Ken Hill, a professional airplane repossession specialist (Foreclosing on a Plane, Then Flying It Away). Given the state of the economy, Hill is working flat out making his way from one airport to another with the tools of his trade: A propeller lock, a portable radio, hand-held GPS device and a fanny pack stuffed with hundreds of keys. According to the Times, Hill normally reposes about 30 planes a year (everything from propeller-powered Piper trainers to luxury Gulfstream business jets) but last year he reposed 50 aircraft and this year it could be 100. His clients? primarily banks that specialize in aircraft loans. Hill is also an aircraft dealer but if he can’t retrieve a plane’s log books, he will unlikely be able to sell the plane for what its worth.
Anyway, the article serves as a reminder to all airplane owners or would be owners that airplanes cost money – large sums of money to buy and maintain. Given the state of the economy, demand for chartering airplanes, the traditional source of income to help offset the cost of maintaining an airplane, is shrinking – keeping airplane repossession specialists like Hill busy.
Nevertheless, the article concludes with a cautious note for anyone thinking of entering the airplane repossession business:
Mr. Hill would not disclose any financial details, but he said repossession is not a lucrative career. (He did, however, say it is more interesting than his a somewhat similar sideline career as a registered bounty hunter in California.) Nor does his day always run smoothly.
“I once had a lady chase me through a hangar with a yard rake,” he said. “I just tell them, ‘I have a job to do.’ If they did what they were supposed to do, I wouldn’t be here.”