Hello all. My first post here. I’ve been reading here for a few weeks now having found the place through Peter’s website. It does strike me as a more knowledgeable forum in general where people only post when they have something meaningful to say – a rare thing these days!
I am looking for some advice on whether to finish off my PPL or not. I have always loved planes and was introduced to flying by a friend’s father when 15. There is something about it which I find completely awe-inspiring and absolutely loved my early time in the air just flying around and looking down at the ground! Without giving it a lot of thought, and with finance from some inherited “fun use only” money, I embarked upon my PPL when I was 18 or so.
I have around 60 hours from 15 years ago after which PPL training unfortunately stopped due to other life commitments. I have been to see the school which still has my records and believe that as things stand I can use these hours to count towards the total. I am in a position time-wise (I still have the same pot of money squirrelled away) where I can commit to finally complete it.
Now that I am older and thinking about it more over the last few years I have come to realise that completing the PPL is the easy part. Keeping it current and enjoying its privileges is the hard part. I am not sure if I would be able to do that. Reading Peter’s website and forum threads has helped me clarify some thoughts on how I might make use of it or otherwise.
Many members here promote the benefits of 100% ownership. I get this. I have an old Porsche and when I drive it, half of the enjoyment is knowing that it is mine, that I worked hard for it and that I can do with it as I like when I like. Vanity perhaps, but it puts a smile on my face.
My nearest airport is an hour away. If I was to rent a spam can from the club it would mean driving an hour each way and paying ~£150 per hour to fly around the localish area in an old plane that gets a hard time. I am sure the novelty would very quickly wear off and I would soon resent the hour’s drive and the £150 just to bimble around. I don’t enjoy bimbling around in the Porsche even though I own it and it is sat right outside my house. I only drive it if I have somewhere to go.
I want to fly somewhere. To see the corners of the country from the air. To go to Scotland, Ireland, Europe. This means having access to a reasonably good plane – something talked about here often. Also talked about here often is the usefulness of the IR. I would like an IR for the skills, further freedom and safety margin it gives.
I could try to find a syndicate but I have heard as many scare stories as I have good stories and even so wonder how many would want a fresh PPL joining them. Living so far from the airport I feel that I would stand out for not attending the social events and what not. My wife would probably say I am not that sociable anyway!
I do very much like the idea of outright owning a Permit aircraft; a Europa in particular appeals and I’ve seen them for around £30,000. I have the technical ability to work on it, would enjoy working on it and would enjoy not having to hand it over to and trusting a maintenance organisation about which, again, I have read as many bad stories as good. A Europa could be kept at home and maybe operated from some nearby grass farm strips. However with IFR in mind, a Europa does not seem such a good idea as I don’t think any IFR is allowed in one and is unlikely to be in the future.
I could afford the same £30,000 (or perhaps a bit more) on a used CofA aircraft but would then worry about the ongoing costs and administration and am not sure that anything decent could be had for that sum anyhow.
All of which puts me back to square one really about whether to start back on the journey or not. There are lots of threads here about the numbers who give up after PPL. I think the frustration of not being able to really enjoy using my PPL, or worse having to fly just for the sake of currency, would far outweigh the frustration of never having got my PPL in the first place. But then I also suspect that re-validating a lapsed PPL some years down the line would be easier than completing the PPL some years down the line when I can no longer credit my logbook hours.
I realise that this is a very long and rambled post. If you have got all the way through I really would appreciate any advice based on your experience of utilising your PPL.
If you like the Europa, and you are not afraid of fiddling, then get one ASAP and start flying. In the UK, you can even train in it I think? Case closed (from my point of view at least )
I’m an ex Europa owner.
Forget the idea of keeping it at home and taking it to a strip. It takes far too long to take wings on and off, and the horizontal stabilizer too.
I kept my Europa tied down outside at a grass strip.
If you do buy a Europa make sure it has a rotax. Mine had a six cylinder jabiru, and it could not compete with rotax ones.
1) Yes, get your PPL. You can decide later whether to continue or not. When I’m making decisions, I always remind myself of the saying that on your deathbed you usually regret the things you DIDN’T DO more than the ones you did.
2) Don’t worry about the IR at this stage. There is so much you can do with a VFR plane. IFR pilots tend to underestimate the possibilities. Owning a basic plane and flying it well is much better than not owning a plane with all the bells and whistles.
3) You can find a VFR plane in good condition for much less than £ 30,000.
On the subject of syndicates, don’t rule one out. Sure, if you can afford to be sole owner you will have fewer compromises, but you will get a more capable aircraft if you are prepared to share it. (Of course, if the a/c you can afford outright has all the capabilities you need then look no further). But sharing has some advantages – like not needing to go and fly just for the sake of the engine.
As for the IR – what others have said about VFR is true, you can do a whole lot of touring on a VFR basis. An IR will of course increase your options, and the reliability of getting to a specific destination, but with VFR you can still tour, if you are a bit flexible about your plans. One of my favourite flying trips was VFR to Ireland, after weather forced a change to our plans for a Scandinavian trip.
S57 thanks for a great post!
Definitely finish your PPL.
Don’t worry about IFR – it is very handy and those of us who have it would never go back, but for various reasons it involves a big escalation in costs, hassle, currency required to be safe, etc.
If you want to see the far corners of the country (or further) from the air, you are going to need finish that PPL :-). I highly recommend it.
I bought a share in a PA28 before I finished my PPL. It was great, the other member barely flew the airplane and it was an excellent way to learn about owning an aircraft without being on the hook for all of the costs and complications. I have subsequently shared a float plane and part of a yak, both excellent groups.
You can always buy something later…
Nobody here will encourage you not to finish your PPL. It is basically up to you and what you want.
Getting a PPL is a lot of work. It requires motivation and dedication. Once you have it you need to keep the interest up and fly 30 hours per year as a minimum.
I have been flying for more than 20 years. In the first years I flew 50-60 hours per year. Then I moved to the US and flew 120 hours per year. After 9/11 took place and the airspace around the majors US airports was closed to VFR traffic for an extended period of time, I ended up effectively grounded and decided to pursue the IR in order to get some flying done. When I moved back to Europe I flew 10-20 hours per year for some years until I found an N-reg to rent. Then my annual flying went back to 100 hrs/year.
During all these years I have been renting and only recently purchased an airplane. Over the last few months my plane has proved to be a hangar queen, but hopefully that will be over at the end of this week.
Things change in life. Although I took my PPL when I was 19, I just didn’t fly enough back then. Partly financial, but partly something else. Many years later I woke up one day and wanted to fly again. Redid all my licenses. What changed? I honestly don’t know. My financial situation improved, so maybe it was that? In any case, I’m more into it now than I ever was. I can not see living without it. But the key for me was the ability to own a plane you can actually travel with. Ownership made it for me. For others, it might be an aerobatic aircraft, the club environment and the camaraderie, or the vintage planes, warbirds etc. We’re all different.
If you’ve decided you want a traveling machine and the ability to go places, like I did, then you should work towards that goal. I think £30K is a little light for a really capable machine, but you can certainly do it for that (just takes a little longer to get there and won’t be as solid in IMC). For £50-100K you get really competent machines that can do long range travel in instrument conditions, maybe even icing conditions. I think that’s probably where you’d want to aim, long term.
I would suggest to finish your PPL, try to make some friends at the club and go flying together once you’ve got your PPL. You will build experience and start touring longer distance and maybe at the end you will decide to buy a plane together…