Reality check needed

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).

Moderator: drseti

mstrat
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:15 pm

Reality check needed

Postby mstrat » Tue Mar 15, 2016 3:50 pm

Hey everyone! Great forum - I'm new here but already loving what I'm seeing.

I'm looking to get started with flying and would love to hear some opinions on my current plans, and let me know if I'm delusional. :)

I have a bit of time behind the stick, and am about a week into ground training, and will be looking for an instructor to start lessons in the next few weeks (currently eyeing A&M in Bollingbrook, IL, on a 7AC champ). This is a life-long dream, and I have no doubt I'll see it through. Afterwards the plan is to build a tiny two-seater.

My wife and I have been looking to buy some property (~10-20 acres) with a fixer-upper somewhere in WI, IN, or MI (we're from Chicago) already, but now I'm wondering how feasible it is to have my own airstrip and save on the costs and hassles of renting a hanger and going back and forth to an airport.

The two biggest things I'd love a reality check on are:
1. If I find a property with ~800-1000 ft of firm flat land (or a tilled field that we can tamp down and plant grass seed on), ideally parallel to prevailing winds, but not necessarily so... am I good to go? Will I potentially learn anything while training that would spoil my plans, if I were to buy the property before completing training?

2. I plan to build a small two seater from a kit, e.g. Quicksilver GT-500, Challenger 2, CGS Aviation Hawk II Arrow, Rans S-12 Airaile.
Are there any large additional costs besides painting I should be aware of if I buy a kit that includes an engine and instruments? Is it reasonable to build one of these, all in for ~$20k - 30k ?

Thanks again, and let me know what you think, or any questions I can answer to help clarify.

SportPilot
Posts: 1060
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:39 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby SportPilot » Tue Mar 15, 2016 3:59 pm

.......
Last edited by SportPilot on Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nomore767
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:30 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby Nomore767 » Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:11 pm

Good luck with your training!

If it were me I'd start with what Sport Pilot says and look into acquiring the airplane and placing it in a hangar as close to where you want to be. In fact, I'd locate the hangar/airport, and then look for for property as close to it as I could find.

I drive 55 minutes to my airplane and hangar and usually have a personal moan mentally over the drive-time. Then I think how fortunate I am really because it's a good sized T-hangar with an electric door , electric power/lights included for $165 month. There is a maintenance shop 30 yards away, as well as a gas pump with 100LL, and an avionics shop. The manager just told me he's going to become a Vans Service center soon and is off to Sebring FL for the Rotax training Vans requires. That's a great stroke of luck for me as I have a Vans RV-12 and already have a Rotax trained LSA mechanic about 30 minutes flying time away.

All of a sudden I'm counting my blessings and feel bad about even thinking about complaining about my 55min drive to the airfield. Shame on me!

You can avoid the same drive to the field by literally living the property you buy but then...(and I really don't 'know' but I'm thinking out aloud)...I'd have to cut the grass and ensure that the field is pretty smooth and flat. Does it have to have the approach ends pruned to allow for approach to land/take-off? Does the FAA have to certify the field as well as local township? Taxes, ordinances, zoning...not to mention complaining neighbors?
Whilst renting the hangar I'd be looking into all this. If after careful thought and study, having my own strip is a step up from renting a hangar I'd move ahead.
But first, I'd see if a local farmer already had a strip (and a hangar?) and would be amenable to sharing or renting out usage, or renting you a section of his land upon which to make your airstrip.

What is the insurance angle on being a low-time pilot flying off his own strip? I don't know but I'd find out.

Lastly, I'd again look into maintenance access and fuel. I have access to 100LL on the field for my Rotax engine but I prefer to schlep 93 non-ethanol autos in cans and the Rotax has been pretty easy to keep properly serviced.

I don't think your delusional at all, but if it were me I'd certainly look into all the aspects I mentioned always in search of an easier, cheaper and probably better route than doing it on my own. Nothing wrong with the idea at all but life has a nasty habit of putting up snags and obstacles especially in aviation. This can be frustrating and time consuming. You'd certainly want to spend the most time flying instead of 'preparing' to fly and spending hours keeping the strip airworthy.

Just my 2 cents worth!
Last edited by Nomore767 on Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SportPilot
Posts: 1060
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:39 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby SportPilot » Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:21 pm

.......
Last edited by SportPilot on Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jack Tyler
Posts: 1380
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:49 pm
Location: Jacksonville, FL

Re: Reality check needed

Postby Jack Tyler » Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:39 am

Welcome to this forum, M. (Name?) You'll find many a worthwhile opinion to consider here.

As you can already see, there is much to research. Your initial challenge is that you lack a knowledge of and a perspective for any aspect of recreational flying and a/c ownership. Nothing wrong with being ignorant or inexperienced, and of course that's why you are inviting information. The snag is that A's to your Q's need to be yours and not some collective distillation of others. So I'd encourage you to put your main initial emphasis on learning to fly. Life long dream or not, not everyone actually enjoys flying. Or feels comfortable in a tiny a/c in the midst of a big weather system, or perhaps when that a/c lacks a heating system during a cold snap or is bouncing around in summer heat & humidity. Find an instructor and rental LSA a/c - which may prove much harder than you imagine, depending on your location - and let's see how you feel post-solo and after mastering some of the regs and procedures. For your location, this is the perfect time to begin with the whole summer left to complete the license and check ride.

You may be able to find some other posts here on folks who've created their own 'airport'. Try the 'Search' function. But just in that category of Q's, here are some things I'd be thinking about:
-- get the airport directory for each of the state's you are considering from that state's DOT Aviation Department. Some states place great emphasis on getting private fields registered with the FAA and they publish basic info on them including contact details. They usually also publish an aviation chart for the state (may be digital and/or paper). Those sources would allow you to talk with some airstrip owners where you are considering living, no doubt your best source of information on what's involved in actually owning an airstrip. I had a long talk with a farmer/pilot on Saturday, listening to him describe the challenges of keeping his thresholds clear as increased electrical demand created a need for larger transmission lines which in turn must be placed higher. The concerns of an airstrip owner are almost infinite.
-- due to aging pilot demographics, we (the RAF; see my signature line) are finding many airstrip owners who no longer fly, want their beloved airstrip to remain in use, and are looking for someone to take it over. It's really quite amazing...and this also consistent with the many open lots and unsold homes for sale on commercial air parks where I've been speaking. Given how flexible your plans are, I'd be pretty amazed if you couldn't come across multiple opportunities to buy a strip of land with its own small airfield, and with an owner willing to bargain. Also, some private airstrip owners are eager to share their strip with a few others as it helps keep their costs in check, and that reduces the issues you'd have to face if starting from scratch.
-- along with a bazillion other factors, I'd favor WI over IN or MI because WI has amended their Recreational Use Statute to protect landowners with private airstrips from liability claims. Imagine someone seeing your little strip, thinking they need to practice a landing on grass, and then rolling their plane into a little ball of aluminum because the field was too short, too wet, too rough, etc. They wouldn't have asked you first about landing there, you wouldn't even know to warn them off. This is a common concern of private airstrip owners. More on this here: http://theraf.org/news/2010/update-stat ... n-aviation

There's a good deal more to consider. But my suggestion is to dig into the other aspects as your spare time allows while first concentrating on getting some instruction plus study, ground and in the air. That will help you at least begin to define the kind of flying you want to be doing...and defining the mission is the first step in choosing an a/c to own. And that in turn will help shape the kind of airfield/airstrip/airport you'll need. It's a long process...but full of joy, too.

Good luck to you! It's great to see folks new to aviation that bring your long-held interest with them.
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org

Cluemeister
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:20 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby Cluemeister » Wed Mar 16, 2016 7:42 am

There is a gentleman near me who has a grass strip and about 5 hangars. I called recently and asked about the option of hangaring there, and he indicated he wasn't sure what he was going to do with the land, he may put it in an llc, may stop having planes there, etc. Then he invited me to come by sometime. My takeaway from the conversation was that he was nearing a point in his life where he was going to move the property to someone else, but was in no immediate hurry to do so.

This story is to support the point that there are lots of private runways out there, and finding a purchase opportunity will take some work, but I agree you will find some options.

User avatar
FastEddieB
Posts: 2130
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:33 pm
Location: Mineral Bluff, GA

Re: Reality check needed

Postby FastEddieB » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:52 am

There was an airport for sale for a reasonable price near Syracuse, IN, not so long ago.

Pretty country. Here's a video of an arrival there and a couple landings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuF2xb8wyxA

I can find the phone number of the realtor if you want.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
FastEddieB@mac.com

SportPilot
Posts: 1060
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:39 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby SportPilot » Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:41 am

.......
Last edited by SportPilot on Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nomore767
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:30 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby Nomore767 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:28 pm

SportPilot wrote:You could also consider buying a lot/house on an already established airport community. I would do that, but my wife is not up for that.


Likewise my wife not interested in moving to a flying community/airpark...on the other hand the one I looked at was closed for a while because of squabbling over who ran it, covenants and local ordinances...so maybe not such a good idea.

Some airparks have nice houses with a hangar attached, others have a nice hangar with a house attached.

For me I feel like I'm living on an 'airpark'...it's just the hangar is 55minutes drive away from the house! :)

Wm.Ince
Posts: 581
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:27 pm
Location: Clearwater, FL

Re: Reality check needed

Postby Wm.Ince » Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:28 pm

Nomore767 wrote:
SportPilot wrote:You could also consider buying a lot/house on an already established airport community. I would do that, but my wife is not up for that.
Likewise my wife not interested in moving to a flying community/airpark...on the other hand the one I looked at was closed for a while because of squabbling over who ran it, covenants and local ordinances...so maybe not such a good idea.
Some airparks have nice houses with a hangar attached, others have a nice hangar with a house attached.
For me I feel like I'm living on an 'airpark'...it's just the hangar is 55minutes drive away from the house! :)

I am 50 minutes away from my hangar. That distance certainly does have an impact on the amount of time and how often I get out to my airplane. If I get to fly twice a week . . . mission accomplished! Unfortunately, over the past 2 years, it has not worked out that way.

All of that withstanding, I love my hangar and the setup. I have a great bunch of guys to hang out with, an FBO, fuel (100LL) and mechanic at the airport, not to mention a good little restaurant, that serves breakfast and lunch.
Come and visit North Tampa (X39) sometime! 8)
Bill Ince
CTSW
Retired Heavy Equipment Operator

3Dreaming
Posts: 1971
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:13 pm
Location: noble, IL USA

Re: Reality check needed

Postby 3Dreaming » Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:06 pm

Of the types of airplanes you mention you can often buy one that is already built for less money that you can build one for. I know a fellow who just sold a ELSA he built for around $40,000 that cost him $60,000 to build.

mstrat
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:15 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby mstrat » Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:47 pm

Thanks everyone, great feedback. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts.

Anyone fly ultralights? And does that change your thoughts on backyard take-offs/landings vs. renting a hanger? I'm curious how often people store their ultralights at hangers vs simply flying off their own property (especially curious since I'm looking at 2 seat near-equivalents to ultralights). A little 2 stroke rotax 582 doesn't need any special fuel, and the maintenance seems pretty straightforward, relative to a larger more complicated aircraft.

SportPilot
Posts: 1060
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:39 pm

Re: Reality check needed

Postby SportPilot » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:11 pm

.......


Return to “Light Sport Aircraft”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests