Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Postby FastEddieB » Mon Dec 28, 2015 11:16 am

Sort of...



1) I'm Experimental, and took the 16-hour course to do my own annuals, so that keeps the maintenance costs way down.

2) Nothing factored in for overhaul fund nor 5-year rubber parts. When those each come due costs of course go way up for the year in question.

3) The hangar serves as general storage as well, so there's savings in not having to rent or buy storage in addition to that.

4) The chart and database expense would likely be about the same even if I didn't own the Sky Arrow, as long as I was an active pilot.

5) Not including things like the opportunity cost of the money tied up in the plane. That's a real thing but I don't factor it in, since it was "fun money" anyway!
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA

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Re: Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Postby Nomore767 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 2:03 pm

I have just been looking at my own numbers on my RV-12 SLSA for 2015.

Different states and different costs but SC has a property tax, I paid $1357 ( I told the truth!) and I have a loan on my airplane, which if things go as they are I'll pay off quickly (I wanted to see if owning an LSA was what i really wanted).

My maintenance costs were low basically because the airplane's almost new and my mechanic charges $350 for my annual. He's Lockwood trained Rotax. I had higher costs due to fiddling with the darn carb floats, but I eventually got the new floats installed and Rotax reimbursed the cost of 2 sets of floats, 1 old sort and 1 of the new replacements, so that cost was fairly small in the end.

I subscribe to Foreflight and I dropped Seattle Avionics.

Insurance was $1451 but for full coverage including full replacement cost of new SLSA even though I deposited about 1/3. I can pretty much buy another brand new SLSA if mine is totaled for any reason.

I was lucky to find a fairly new electric bi-fold door hangar for $165 month including utilities about a 50 minute drive from home.

I used 93 non-ethanol exclusively @ $2.99 gallon and refuel myself using plastic jugs using an adapter kit for the nozzle and air vent. I can pour 12.5 gallons in about 3 minutes.

All in all the hourly cost for 122 hours of flying was $132 hour.

If I didn't have the loan it would be half that. I intend to pay that off in the next few years and I'll own a plane worth around $85k at that point. We elected not to tap our portfolio and I'd already allocated what I'm spending now just to rent so I'm about even in cash outlay each month/year whether I rent or own.

The alternative to owning for me is renting and my choices for LSA are more limited in my area as to what I wanted. The goal is to fly 15 hours a month either renting or owning. This year weather has downed me quite a lot and prevented some longer range trips.

There are probably multiple things I'm doing 'wrong' which will no doubt be pointed out by some financial gurus but I continue to refine my costs and stick with the goal of keeping it as simple as possible. I want to be able to do as much as I can on my own. I 'may' do a service course and do more things like oil changes but changing the oil about twice a year isn't a huge cost (50 hours using mogas on the Rotax) and since my mechanic does them , and the annual, for now I don't see the point of acquiring tools etc to do what he does in a short time.

I'm retired and I want to fly as much as possible while I can. Many say why not build? I thought about it but decided to buy an SLSA version. A hangar neighbor has been building his RV-12 for over 6 years and his hangar is full of thousands of dollars of tools etc he bought despite the kit being an easy build. He's renting the same kind of hangar and has hardly flown for years and still building.

So far I'm really happy with my flying lot in life and really glad that I chose the Vans RV-12 SLSA. It's been a lovely plane, very nice to fly in all categories. It's been faster and more economical than I thought. Sport flying is right for me at this stage of my life. I can do an early morning flight, a fly-in, a sunset flight and fly cross country flights anywhere in the USA.

Very good experience so far.

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Re: Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Postby Flocker » Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:00 pm

Nomore767 wrote:Very good experience so far.

Great PIREP!

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Re: Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Postby SportPilot » Mon Dec 28, 2015 7:14 pm

Last edited by SportPilot on Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Postby MrMorden » Mon Dec 28, 2015 8:04 pm

SportPilot wrote:I figure the true cost of owning an LSA is about $1,000 per month flying 60 hours per year or $200 per hour. That's based on a used SkyCatcher priced at $69,000. That includes all cost and is what someone should consider when evaluating options. That doesn't mean the decision to purchase must be financial only. There are other considerations as well.

That's close to what I paid for my CTSW, and I think your estimate is really close.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

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Re: Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Postby drseti » Mon Dec 28, 2015 8:37 pm

Mine is a flight school aircraft, so I can amortize fixed costs over more hours than most of you. Including both fixed and variable expenses, with the plane flying twice as many hours as I do, each of my SportStars ran very close to $120/hr (which happens to be the Hobbs rate I charge). The economies of scale for high annual hours are offset by the high cost of commercial insurance, so individual owner/pilots should see similar figures. My maint costs are lower than most, however, since I do all my own maint & inspections, and don't charge myself labor.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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Re: Flying a Light Sport for under $20/hour!

Postby Nomore767 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 10:14 pm

Using Eddie's method my hourly direct cost was $23 hour and fixed cost was $109.

I actually underflew this year due to weather and family issues so it would have been better.

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