Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
Hi All,

As some may remember, about a month ago I posted a cry-for-help after getting a bit disillusioned by the prospect of being a club renter and everything that comes with it. I got lots of brilliant advice and it really got me thinking about what my 'mission' is and the long-term plan.

To cut to the chase, given budgets and time, I think I would prefer to fly often rather than less often - and for me I'm now thinking about what options exist at the more affordable end of GA.

Could anyone make any recommendations for the most fun you can have in the air with your clothes on for someone on a budget? All options considered, including flex-wing:

Criteria would be:

Must be capable of carrying me + 1 passenger (capacity)
Must be capable of carrying a stocky 95kg pilot and want to be able to take another grown-adult as my passenger (without chopping off both legs to get under MTOW)
Hourly costs must be as cheap as possible - as in, how low can you go? FWIW, currently paying £110ph rental for a C42 and interested in understanding what options exist if my budget is half of this, 25% of this etc...can you get flying costs down to £25 an hour?
Say I've got £5k to 'invest' - all options considered for that.

Being really transparent, what's in my head is: why don't I do the NPPL(M) >> SSEA upgrade and rent something shiny from the club when I need to go places (which isn't that frequent), as well as why don't I try and buy something outright, or buy a share in something cheap as chips where I can get airborne for peanuts, that's really fun rather than functional?

I think I would find flying a lot more fun if I could get airborne once or twice a week for a fun fling in something entertaining, rather than once a twice a month where I've spunked my entire budget doing a local bimble. In terms of entertaining, I'd happily trade speed for entertainment, seat-of-your-pants, open-air type activity.

I started looking at Quik and similar, then realised they weren't as cheap to buy as I thought, so thought I would turn here for some suggestions where to look.

Final caveat is that gyros definitely ruled out...I'm looking for fun, not a death wish :D
Last edited by flyingearly on Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I spent nine very happy years in a PA22-108 group.

OK, it was a 1960s certificated aircraft, but even with the usual hefty annual the 8-person group managed to keep the costs at around £60/month and £60/Tacho hour. It will undoubtedly be more now.

It carried two people and luggage to Italy on three occasions and spent a lot of time wandering around France. And it was a hoot to fly.

A permit aircraft coud probably better the 24litres/hour fuel burn and might keep the monthlies a bit lower, but then you have to consider the load-lugging capacity also.

Not a recommendation, but definitely a 'don't write something like it off' suggestion

Rob P
The answer might depend upon where you live, and the kind of flying you want to do. Usually, FAST = expensive, while SLOW can = ECONOMICAL.
Take a look at TMG (touring motor gliders). I flew all around Europe with two POB in an SF25B sipping 8 litres/hr.
Quite often, on a fine day the engine was OFF. Bliss. Take a look at the numbers and you might get a pleasant surprise. But don't breathe a word to anyone; it's one of aviation's best kept secrets.
Rob P, nallen, ChrisT liked this
Thanks for replies - I'm in Sevenoaks. Currently renting from a brilliant club based either at Deanland or Headcorn, which are 1hr or 45 minutes from me respectively.

I've got experience paragliding, but not that keen on going down the paramator route.

Currently, with landing fees etc I'm averaging 2 - 3 hours a month before I zap the bank. I could do more, but the point is that I'm not really doing much for the money - the C42 is pretty slow, so I'm just doing an hour's hop or bimble and not really venturing that many places. I could go further, but would cost more.

I'm happy with things being slow, if they are fun. To be honest, I'm finding the C42 really boring, as sad as that might sound. My last two flights and sat there mid-flight and just thought how bored I was - flying around with no purpose.

£25 pcm club fees + £110 per hour + £15 landing fee starts adding us pretty quickly. I feel like I'm throwing money away and not really getting any excitement from it. In fact, being really honest (and my other thread/post started this), I find that I'm going flying just to keep current with the club currency rules - if they didn't exist, I just wouldn't have the urge to go up as I don't really have a purpose for it - it's expensive and not that fun!

Realistically, I've resigned myself to the fact that my desired mission - fly further afield - isn't possible on my budget very often, hence my post here - I'm happy to find something really cheap, even if it's flimsy, to fly with for fun, even if it's slow or flex-wing, provided it's fun. For proper trips, I'm happy renting from the club, but less frequently.

For comparison, with the C42 I'm typically getting 65 - 70 knots cruise all things considered, which is on the slow side of the advertised figures but takes into account circuits and rejoining etc.
I fly a vintage taildragger on a permit which is less than £50 an hour including the fuel, but your 95kg plus the requirement to carry another full-size adult would probably cause it some issues.

I'm not saying you definitely need a four-seater, but with most affordable two-seaters a 95kg pilot is going to find himself looking at weight and balance often enough that it becomes a one-seater unless you severely restrict the fuel load (and thus range).

Ultimately it costs money to move weight through the air. The more weight there is and the faster you want to move it, the more it costs.

A PA28 share might do you nicely. Two-up you'll have no W&B issues unless it's a 140, and if the group is on the larger side then it can get pretty affordable. You'll also be going faster than a C42 and be able to go further afield.
Last edited by defcribed on Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Another PA22-108 advocate here, they are the best value used aeroplane by a mile. Not being on a permit puts folks off, but that only means you have to network a little with the people who do the real work on airfields. In hangars.

They do 108mph on 108hp. They take two full-size people with bags, with an electric starter, good brakes and a door that locks. They have a proper electrical system and are as tough as old boots. I loved flying it, and all the other PA22 variants. Buy one, sell a half share in it to the right person and find an old school mechanic you can work with. I have plenty of high-end aeroplanes knocking about, but if I had a cheap hack like a PA22 I'd be made up. I'd never come down.
Rob P, Highland Park liked this
flyingearly wrote:To be honest, I'm finding the C42 really boring, as sad as that might sound. My last two flights and sat there mid-flight and just thought how bored I was - flying around with no purpose.

I can relate to this but changing the type of aircraft that you fly may only temporarily stave off the boredom. Flying around without a purpose (other than to simply remain airborne) will eventually become uninspiring in any type, regardless of the cost.

Two suggestions come to mind.

The first would be to question whether you could navigate in a more involved manner. When I'm doing a local flight I find GPS navigation using a moving map completely dull. For me, it reduces what should be the interesting task of finding my way around the landscape to something mundane and routine. Having a line on a chart, a plog with headings and times and a focus on what I can see outside makes getting around far more enjoyable for me. Even if you don't find it enjoyable per se, it at least keeps you occupied and challenged which prevents you from questioning whether or not you're actively having fun.

The other thing would be to ask yourself how well you know the area that you routinely fly over or which is within range during an hour's bimble. If you research your area of action then you're bound to find something interesting to look for or a piece of information which will make somewhere seemingly anonymous suddenly more interesting. Of course, flying something quicker will open up more of the landscape to you.
Bobcro liked this
I think group ownership of an average* LAA or BMAA aircraft will cost a member of that group between £65 and £125 per hour, depending on the aircraft type; the hours flown per annum; the number of members in the group, and assuming the group is well-run with allowance for insurance, hangarage, engine fund etc.

It's probably still cheaper than renting (depending upon the expected hours flown p.a.) and the aircraft will be ready and available when you need it. :D

* Lighter end, so not Glasair or Lancair, for example! :wink:
My Emeraude cost£16k 12 yrs ago. Sole ownership, self maintenance with a grown up sign off.
Hangarage £100 per month on a farm strip, 18litres per hour.
All done on a pension. It’s there when I want it, 90knots cruise, 4 hours on a full tank.
Sorry I’m only 65kg but a friend of mine weighs 100kg and owns the very same model of aircraft.
I have also taken on a buddy 80kg and often fly together, with a full 80 litre tank!
Depends where you live ref hangar costs. This is Scotland.
lobstaboy liked this
You mention "open air" and Flexwing Have you tried it? It seems that Flexwing flying is contracting. I've noticed a regular stream of suits, helmets, Lynx and other flex-specific headsets, bar-mitts etc. on AFORS and the Bay. You specifically stated "Quick".
That is probably not your best choice, you need to research the various P&M wings and trikes.
AFAIK, the Quick has a 9-series Rotax. That is heavy, though powerful. The older 503 "blue-top" is lighter and has the benefit of twin-ignition. (grey-top 503 has single ignition)
(I think the 503 is still available new.) they can be had within your 5K as well

AIUI, the "faster" wings are also more sensitive in handling and landing can be tricky unless a high approach speed is carried - (around 60-70 mph over the hedge) and cross-winds are limiting..
If you like motorbikes, you'll love Flexwing! The earlier stuff is cheaper The earlier Quantums and other Pegasus and Mainair products will fit your budget and should fit your weight-requirements. It looks like a faff to fold the wing and bag it, then trailer it home. There, the later "topless" designs with no King-post or upper wires seem to score.
A bonus is that, as they're "pusher-prop" you leave a lot of the noise behind, also, there's no balance-issue!
I do have some experience of fixed and flex flying. I don't have a pilot's licence. take that as you will . P&M spares are now coming from the new owners' factory in India and there is also some legacy-stock about. The BMAA website is a good place to start

You'll also see a lit of fixed-wing microlight info on there, but then the running cists tend to escalate. Being a "poor old Pensioner" I did a great deal of research into "cheap" flying. -There's no such thing :lol: but tight-budget flying is possible :wink:

Bobcro liked this