So you’ve decided to take the dive and buy yourself an airplane for personal use. Yet owning a plane involves a lot more than high-altitude thrills. Consider these factors before setting off on your maiden voyage.
If you’re still learning how to take care of a plane, never fear: the Federal Aviation Administration has a great checklist that covers the most important steps, such as checking the condition of your engine, propeller and landing gear. As a certified pilot, there is some preventive maintenance you can do yourself, making aircraft hardware kits useful things to have around. For more complex operations, however, you’re legally required to hire a professional A&P mechanic. Familiarize yourself with the FAA’s guidelines before doing anything else, both for the good of the plane and for your safety.
Before you even shell out money on an airplane, don’t just look up its selling price: research what you’ll need to pay after you buy it. Fuel and parts cost money, and depending on usage and distance, may come out to more than you might have initially realized. Don’t try skipping insurance to save cash—you’re far better off with it and without it—although a better alternative would be to finance your plane, which will keep you from spending so much money upfront.
Every license has its own rules regarding weather conditions, flying at night, and altitude: a Private Pilot’s License, for example, has fewer limitations than a Recreational Pilot’s License, and both are less restrictive than a Sports Pilot’s License. It’s your responsibility to study and follow your chosen license’s limitations carefully: many flight schools’ web sites have a page set aside that describes the rules for reach, in case you need to refresh your memory.
Don’t feel like this list has clipped your wings. Taking these things into account will only propel your flights to new heights, in more ways than one.