Airplane Ownership: Know When to Buy, Know When to Sell

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Yes, I have the wheel pants, I just prefer to fly
Katy with them off for a number of reasons.
See full photo gallery here.
By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

It is one of those unwritten rules in the aviation world that from your very first flight lesson, we aviators strive to purchase and fly an airplane we can call our own. As flight students, we've all had that vision...sliding open the hangar door on a crisp autumn morning so you can pull "your" bird out into the sunlight to go poke holes in the crystal clear sky.
Wanting that airplane and buying it are far different stories.
When the time comes and you are in a financial position to shop for airplanes, you spend hours determining what is your mission profile. Do you need a small, fun tailwheel ship to chase hamburgers, or a larger IFR airplane that can carry four adults and all their stuff hundreds of miles in comfort? Maybe you live in lake country and want something on floats. Or, you have the bank for a sleek, composite dream machine. What comes first on your priority list, speed, payload or operational economics?
When all of this pondering concludes, you zero in on the right make/model for your needs, and start shopping. It is an arduous process, lots of time on websites...and when you find a plane that fits your mission profile exactly, you begin the "CSI" phase of inspecting logbooks, online due diligence, and good old fashioned sniffin' around. Soon, you find "the one" and write a check before flying home to stash your new baby in your fresh and clean hangar.
That was me in 2007 when I bought N8527W, also known as Katy. My 1964 Piper Cherokee 235 fit my profile perfectly...four adults and their stuff, predictable and stable IFR platform, and known Cherokee reliability. I knew going in that Katy was not a rocket ship, but the cruising speed of about 121 KTAS was sufficient to get us all from A to B.
I have flown Katy now for seven years, and she has served us well as a great airplane for business and pleasure flying. But now my mission profile has changed, and she is a bit more airplane than I need. Which is why she is for sale now, a decision that was tough to make but will be the right one long term. Here us why:
When we bought Katy, we had a number of advertising clients in the Fresno, CA area, and flying the 235 down to Central California from my home in Southwestern Oregon was a nice four-hour nonstop. We went down there two or three times per year, with stops along the way to call on prospects. Katy was the perfect plane, but today, those clients no longer need face-to-face service, so we no longer need to fly long distances for business.
While Katy's panel might be technically "non-standard"
it has a nice clean look due to the aluminum panels.

See full photo gallery here.
Selling Katy makes good sense now, as my personal flying is changing as well. While instrument-rated, I see weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest changing every winter, becoming more dramatic, with lower freezing levels, more powerful storms and stronger winds. And living in the Willamette Valley means needing around 10,000 msl to fly east or south to clear the Cascades or Siskiyou ranges. I can easily fly west, but after 20 minutes in the air, all that is left is 2,500NM of ocean before I find Hawaii.

I believe that to satisfy my need to fly and also match financial considerations with a more accurate mission profile, I need to sell the 235 and buy something smaller, most likely a VFR-only LSA, or membership in a flying club. I love the economics of the Light Sport class, because 4 gph allows me to chase $100 hamburgers that truly only cost $100. I like the experimental class even better, but as someone who cannot change oil without losing a screw, stripping threads or whacking a knuckle, I have no business building airplanes.
When you do find that $100 hamburger, you can eat it
off of Katy's Lycoming 0-540, it is that clean.

See full photo gallery here.
Katy will be a great airplane for her next owner. She has been very well maintained, and had a long list of new parts, including fresh 500 hour mags. All of her ADs were complied with at last annual, and her Lycoming 0-540 purrs. The engine is extra clean, and has great compressions at about 380 hours SMOH. The panel is all-steam, with some King radios and digital fuel flow and tach. I have discounted her asking price $4,000 off the AOPA vRef calculated price to try and get the phone to ring.
If you or anyone you know wants a nice clean airplane that can haul more useful load than its empty weight, go here and look at my Trade-a-plane ad. You can also see a full photo gallery here.

If you are interested in talking about a deal, email Dan Pimentel here.
And did I mention that the $55,000 is an asking price? Make me an offer I can't refuse and Katy can be in your hangar soon. 

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