Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

20 Replies

Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by Dennis Burbank on Aug 13, 2018 11:49 am

Morning All!  New pilot (125-hours, VFR, HP endorsement) struggling with the prospects of picking the right plane to purchase, based on size of my family (height & weight...only 4 of us), speed, mission, etc.  Love some feedback and expertise from the group.  Thought I'd go with a 6/300 fixed gear...but really only has 4-useful seats?  Now thinking about a V35, knowing ONLY 4-seats will ever be available but picking up the extra speed and lower fuel burn.  6/300, Turbo 210, Turbo Saratoga, A36, V35!?!?  Twin???  It's the age old discussion - speed vs useful load.  I'll transition into my complex endorsement and have started my IFR training.  Here's what I'm working with:
  • 4-Person family, 755# of people...I'm 6'5" & 260#...14-year old son in 6'3" and still growing
  • Likely traveling with 4-people most the time...but desire the option for 6, load & distance permitting.
  • Mostly flat terrain, southwest US, Arizona to Alabama, Texas to Nebraska...but might like to fly to Colorado some day?
  • OKC to College Station, Texas for the next 4-years is a PRIORITY
My family of 4 + 84-gallons of fuel (ex.) = 1,259# without luggage...or an additional body or two.  Of course I don't need 84-gallons of fuel to fly a 6/300 from OKC to College Station, TX, but what do I fly that can fit 4-6 people (two of which are over 6'3") has a 1,400#-1,800# useful load and cruises at 150-175 kts.???  Last week, fully loaded at 9,500' and a 5-kts head wind, the Six was doing 110-120 kts ground speed.  I was just hoping for more...but that may be unrealistic given my load and height of passengers?

Love some guidance.  Thanks all.
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Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by Dan Smith on Aug 27, 2018 3:42 pm

Some  thoughts... flying WY, NV AZ  CO MT during the summer below 20,000  is a scary  experience.   After seeing my VSI pegged up and down in a 3 min  time  is not happy.    I flew a PA-28  181   SFO-Sheridan WY and Rocks springs...  learned to fly after midnight and before 0600.    Flying a PA 28 Dakota 235 with 3 blade constant spd.  Out of Palm Springs. and can do summer stuff  in the west....but dont   unless things are JUST right  Or I drive. 

  The Piper T tails have scary fast stalls .  The Lance it the worst..I t killed a good friend who was a CFII !!!    I wont even sit in one

 Bonanzas are high power and that power with the retractable gear can get you faster into trouble They are know as Doctor/lawyer killers... people who can afford hot stuff  but should not.
        Lite twins are  one of the most dangerous planes  a good single engine is by far safer.... at 110 hours  you a lot of air time.... to even think twin.       OK. You want to haul a lot on 300 nm,   
Speed  at your experience  level is not your friend it will get you there faster but into trouble faster...bigger is not better..  What you want and what you should do are 2 different things.    Id cut your load to 3  persons  max...  and alternate people on trips.    The first consideration  of a pilot  is should I go.   When you  start  using MUST, NEED or WANT  your not starting out well  you dont have to carry that load, even though you would like to.     Step back and think this through......Get a good 200+ hours before you jump  John Kennedy did not with a Saratoga and it was not all that good....

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission.

Posted by John Kilgore on Aug 27, 2018 4:09 pm

I recommend you skip the 6/300 and get a Lance/Saratoga. You loose a little useful load to the retractable gear, but pick up significant speed. 130kts vs 155kts.
I flew a ‘78 T-tail Lance for a friends company/family. He had a private sel, but no instrument rating. He had no problems flying the plane. An insurance company will require a pilot under 500hrs to have a 25hr check-out with a CFI. But, if you can fly a 172, you can fly a Lance.

The Lance had a 1387lb useful load, and 92gal fuel capacity. We either flew it full of fuel to save cost, or full seats. 
With 70gal of fuel (sight gauges on each wing go to 35gal) we could still carry me (185lb) him (200), his wife and 3 daughters, and over night baggage! (Wife was 120, daughters same or less). Plane had club seating. At 23”/2,300rom (65%), it would give us 150kts true at 7-8,000’. 1,000’/min climb.

Curretly, I’m flying a ‘98 Saratoga II TC. It’s a “Cadillac”! As other Lance, owner is Private SEL. No problems with checking out, though he had ~100hrs previous in a 6/300, and 200hrs in a Mooney M20F. Plane only has 1,080lbs useful, but makes up with air conditioning. We keep it filled to 60gal (again sight gauges on wings), and still carry 4-200lb passengers. It gets 160kts true at 6,000’ at 18.5gph or 170kts true at 10,000 at 20gph.
Similar numbers to another clients Seneca III/V, (twin w/stc’d mods), but it uses 25gph (12.5 a side, 220hp Continental TIO-360’s). But he’s a 2,000hr Private SEL/MEL. He’s owned a 206, a Turbo Saratoga, and. two Cirrus SR22’s. His Seneca will be his “forever” plane...He sold his SR22 G3, bought the Seneca, and banked $100,000! That’ll pay for a LOT of annuals!

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 27, 2018 11:16 pm

If you're going to buy a HP/complex like that PA32R he recommended (probably an excellent plane for the mission), talk to your insurer first.  I've seen several low time non-IR pilots told their insurer would not cover such a plane until they got their IR.  That said, if that's what you want, mighty fine -- but expect to make the first 40 or so hours in it your type checkout and instrument training with a CFI.

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by J Killian on Sep 3, 2018 11:18 am

My reply to you is to suggest that you take another look at what your needs vs desires are - regardless of your pocketbook.  Most of us as plane owners do most of our flying with less than a full passenger load.  I fly an Archer II (4 place) and 80% of my flying is solo.  And yes, I have a big family with grandkids.  Even when I was younger and raising kids, they did not go with me nearly as much as I had hoped or planned.  My recommendations would be to buy a good 4 or 5 place plane that you can progress in and rent a plane for those bigger loads or long distance flights where you want more speed.  There are some great recommendations by other members already, but remember that life is all about compromises. 

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by Herman Cox on Sep 3, 2018 12:05 pm

I’m making the assumption that one of the 6’3” is an Aggie. There really is no airplane for you that will do what you want with your experience. A Turbo Single would do it but you can’t fly that. 
He is my advice. Take the car or truck when you have the student. He will need to take things so the airplane is not practical. Find a 4 place plane for the remaining 3 of you. 
Four place airplanes means 4 160# to 175# people. You are at 250#’s. Add clothes, flying kit bag, emergency equipment, VFR GPS,cover and you are at 300#’s. 
My Traveler has 725 with full tanks 37 gal. Most of them only carry 650#.  So you would have about 400# to carry two people with some bags. 
Jump up to the Tiger and you get an extra 60 pounds. 
I suggest you get an W&B app (CFI Tools is a good one) with examples of various planes. Load it like you plan to fly it. Check out various models. 
Another option is to checkout in something bigger as a rental. Or become a minor partner in something. 
The reality is 6’3” freshman get bigger over 4 years. 
Switch to UT that has a real airport and but tickerts. I used that option for two of my UT kids over 6 years. UAR an TxTech the AA option was the way to go. 
I would not let my kids in a plane with 160 hour pilot especially overloaded and high performance. 

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by Christopher Cuneo on Sep 10, 2018 7:10 pm

 
Morning All!  New pilot (125-hours, VFR, HP endorsement) struggling with the prospects of picking the right plane to purchase, based on size of my family (height & weight...only 4 of us), speed, mission, etc.  Love some feedback and expertise from the group.   

Hi, 

It's my opinion that with regard to light aircraft, for me, speed matters most, followed by power to weight, capability, aircraft size and so on. Furthermore, I rate aircraft by MPG, not by fuel flow such as GPH or PPH. Suffice to say, speed allows you to beat the weather, save fuel, buck headwinds and good power to weight allows you to climb over weather/terrain, the end result is you spend less time in the air and put less time on the engine. 

I am thankfully able to fly, operate and fly in a very wide range of aircraft due to the nature of my job. From gliders, to Extra 300L's to F1 Rocket's, Mooney's, PC-12's Baron's, Eurocopter EC-135's, and all the way up to Gulfstream's latest big jets. I've concluded that 182Kts is the speed at which a light aircraft becomes practical. The speed at which a light aircraft can compete with the airlines on shorter trips. Common headwinds don't lower speeds into the "incredibly annoying" range either. 

Furthermore, as mentioned elsewhere, most of your flying will be likely be solo. I've even found myself flying to a destination, only to have my wife airline in a week later. Let's face the facts, today's light aircraft are often more a passion than a practicality. And to me, that passion is about going fast. 

I own a Cessna Cardinal 177RG. It's 145Kts on a good day. It struggles to climb high with anything more than pilot and wife. But it's roomy and very comfortable. That's a good thing, because a 3.3 hour trip becomes 5 when the North wind blows. Then the afternoon storms start building, the ride gets rough and less direct as I go around clouds, then under them. While my friend with the Mooney has finished his lunch, gotten his rental car and is at the hunting cabin. 

Remember, in WW-II we put low time pilots in P-51 Mustang's. Even today, new fighter pilots often don't have the hours you might expect. Typical single engine, GA aircraft are simple and easy by comparison. Proper training will get you where you need to be. 

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by Gerald Eberhard on Sep 10, 2018 9:48 pm

I observe my 1972 Cessna U206F, Continental IO-520 flys with 6 seats, 3600 lbs max gross, 1650 lbs useful load, seats a 260# pilot, 84 gallons of fuel (80 usable) at 12.8 GPH at 10,000 MSL at Cessna 182 speeds:  130KN.
No, it is not for sale!  I also teach mountain flying in Colorado, Utah and Idaho Backcountry 1-1 any time during the year.  I HIGHLY recommend the Colorado Pilots Association Mountain Flying Ground School (Full day in June and August) and then a mountain training flight with a CPA recognized mountain flying instructor.
Unfortunately the NEW Cessna Turbo 206 has a useful load of ~1250 lbs.  :-(  
A Cessna Turbo 210, of the correct vintage has a max gross of 4,000 lbs. I do not recall the useful load.

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by John Cavanagh on Sep 10, 2018 11:02 pm

Not all four place fit your description, I can put 900 lb and 60 gallons is my 182rg and can fly 500nm in about three and a half hours at a 150 knots

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by John Cavanagh on Sep 10, 2018 11:14 pm

Christopher Cuneo:

 
Morning All!  New pilot (125-hours, VFR, HP endorsement) struggling with the prospects of picking the right plane to purchase, based on size of my family (height & weight...only 4 of us), speed, mission, etc.  Love some feedback and expertise from the group.   

Hi, 

It's my opinion that with regard to light aircraft, for me, speed matters most, followed by power to weight, capability, aircraft size and so on. Furthermore, I rate aircraft by MPG, not by fuel flow such as GPH or PPH. Suffice to say, speed allows you to beat the weather, save fuel, buck headwinds and good power to weight allows you to climb over weather/terrain, the end result is you spend less time in the air and put less time on the engine. 

I am thankfully able to fly, operate and fly in a very wide range of aircraft due to the nature of my job. From gliders, to Extra 300L's to F1 Rocket's, Mooney's, PC-12's Baron's, Eurocopter EC-135's, and all the way up to Gulfstream's latest big jets. I've concluded that 182Kts is the speed at which a light aircraft becomes practical. The speed at which a light aircraft can compete with the airlines on shorter trips. Common headwinds don't lower speeds into the "incredibly annoying" range either. 

Furthermore, as mentioned elsewhere, most of your flying will be likely be solo. I've even found myself flying to a destination, only to have my wife airline in a week later. Let's face the facts, today's light aircraft are often more a passion than a practicality. And to me, that passion is about going fast. 

I own a Cessna Cardinal 177RG. It's 145Kts on a good day. It struggles to climb high with anything more than pilot and wife. But it's roomy and very comfortable. That's a good thing, because a 3.3 hour trip becomes 5 when the North wind blows. Then the afternoon storms start building, the ride gets rough and less direct as I go around clouds, then under them. While my friend with the Mooney has finished his lunch, gotten his rental car and is at the hunting cabin. 

Remember, in WW-II we put low time pilots in P-51 Mustang's. Even today, new fighter pilots often don't have the hours you might expect. Typical single engine, GA aircraft are simple and easy by comparison. Proper training will get you where you need to be. 

You must have the fastest Cardinal RG in the fleet, I could never get mine over 140 knots!

 

Re: Right Plane - Right Size - Right Mission

Posted by Eric Butcher on Nov 19, 2018 2:20 pm

I bought an Archer II when I had about 100 hours.

Insurance was possible.

Flew it from NJ to Barbados no problems.

It depends how much money one has - not too sure I would go with a retractable and certainly not an older one - of you have the money for a newer PA32 I would tend towards the SR22 - with family the airframe parachute would be a comfort - insurance will sting though assuming you insure the hull and they would likely want you to do the factory training (and you should want to too).