Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
I would absolutely agree with the several people who have commented that the internet, or magazine adverts, is not the place to find the best shares.

Contact syndicates, look at noticeboards as airfields re-open, consider even advertising yourself as looking for a share on those noticeboards (one of my favourite shares I got just that way), talk to the local flying community (that's where another of my shares came from, an unsolicited offer from somebody who'd just checked me out on a different syndicate aeroplane).

It's all very community based the syndicate world, so you need to tap into those communities.

It seems as though an hourly rate close to your budget should be achievable, based on something sipping 15/20 litres/hr of mogas, lots of DIY maintenance and an engine which runs to TBO and beyond. The monthly is perhaps more of a problem; fixed costs are well... fixed. The only way to reduce them is to increase the group size, and it seems like very few pilots want to be part of these bigger groups, perhaps due to the reduced availability and extra wear and tear on things.

If you haven’t had much interest in a potential new group, perhaps you could expand your reach. Flying schools have a pretty steady stream of newly-minted PPLs who would probably be quite interested. What about asking the schools if they’d put your details on their notice board? A group of 15 flying an EV-97 at Redhill, for example, would not be far off your numbers.
Last edited by cjrpaterson on Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
flyingearly wrote:Can you humour my naivety and clarify why, please? Is it specifically the hangarage that's making this an unrealistic goal? Or the cash calls?

Not asking to be a nuisance, but genuinely trying to reset my expectations and find a route forward here.

I was expecting to pay £100 a month and £50ish an hour...but if that is genuinely ridiculous, I'd rather someone tells me.

To be fair, I don't know a lot about microlights, but I have owned and run what I describe as "bargain bucket" spamcans outright for the last decade or so. There has been a C172, a PA 28-140 and more recently a permit Bolkow 208C. These have all done about 100 hours a year.

The Bolkow is probably the cheapest and most akin to a microlight. (It weighs 630kg MAUW). Never have I been able to reduce the operating costs below £150/hr by the time I have paid for expensive SE hangarage, landing fees, maintenance (even on a permit there are still costs) and insurance.

So, say you are flying an hour a week, then that is going to cost in the order of 52x150=7.8k/year. If you are only paying £100 per month and £50/hr there is going to be a shortfall.
Unless you join a very large group, you will struggle to get costs below £100 a month in your area.

I run one group of 8 members in the south east. We pay £105 a month and rarely get away without a small cash call of some sort in a year. Our hourly rate is £110 wet. And we are based on a farmstrip so hangarage is low compared to any licensed airfield (over 60% less).

Another group I am in is three people and we run purely on cash call only. Hangarage is the only regular monthly payment. Insurance is just divided by 3 every year. Even that combined works out these days at £100 a month and then you need to strip it down to have repairs done and the fuselage repaired due corrosion...large large cash call. Fuel alone used to cost £30 an hour (mogas and permit to fly). We've not used much of that for the last 5 years it has been grounded.

Why discount a longer journey? There are lots of pilots who travel in excess of an hour. I used to. It took many many years before I found a local group minutes from home and I am very fortunate. You are very much restricting yourself by only being prepared to fly locally.

You are not in a position to buy anything with that sort of budget, so stretch your horizons a little is my advice. I will still travel miles/hours to fly something interesting and as a fresh PPL I would spend the entire day out the house just to get half an hours flying in.

The south east is expensive. Horrendously so compared to other parts of the UK. That is reflected in our aviating costs sadly.
Just to annoy you I'll tell you that I used to run a Skyranger for £80 an hour. All in. That includes hangarage, maint, insurance, fuel, home landing fees. Everything except the depreciation.
Which was £400 total over 4 years.....

In Scotland. :lol:

Sorry, that was cruel.

Anyway, I'm with you on the X-Airs, I'd rather walk, which would be faster too...

What you may realise is that it takea time for shares to become available.
I started out as an NPPL(M) , but got my SSEA rating purely to improve my chances of finding a share. Despite this it took me 2 years to obtain a share in an aircraft from when I qualified. Don't give up!

Like you, I was prepared to fly an aeroplane shaped aircraft but nothing else, at the end of the day an X-air will eat hangarage and insurance money at exactly the same rate as a far far more capable airframe so you may as well hold out for a share in a Skyranger.

I completely understand that having spent a kings ransom on obtaining a pilots licence, the last thing you want to hear from anyone going for a flight is 'what the f**k is that?" when presented with your new ride...

I used to think that the English, particularly in the south, were spoilt for choice with airfields. Seems the grass is not greener elsewhere! Where I am there are only 3 GA airfields within a 40 min drive, and only two have hangarage.

I briefly considered a share 2 hours each way from here, but discounted it as 4 hours driving for an hours bimble is getting daft...

Anyway, good luck, get a share in a Skyranger if you can, they are ideal first aircraft.

Leaving aside aesthetics - I adore X'Airs but I do appreciate that can look like a bag of bits to the uninitiated...

But I can't not point out that when it comes to build quality and robustness - a Skyranger, which you're considering, is every bit as lightly built and under-finished (if not even more so due to trying to squeeze into the weight limit at a larger overall size). Skyrangers are all cables runs on full display, skins velcroced or laced and 'doors' which are a just sheet of perspex held closed by a two inch long twiddly latch.

They're a more familiar shape but the construction method is identical in type.

A factory built Thruster is more 'finished' than your average Skyranger.
lobstaboy, AndyR, kanga and 2 others liked this
As a point of reference, I recently sold a 1/10th share in a C172 at Biggin, for £1,500 (half what I paid for it in 2001!).

It was a 180hp (so 4 up plus some luggage) with only a couple of hundred hours on the engine (overhauled in 2018), no frills, but did have mode-S (with ADS-B out), new radios etc. The monthly was £120 and the hourly rate was fuel cost + £10 (about £80/hour).

I was in the group for close to 20 years and over that time I've not seen other groups offering a much better deal in the South East.

I personally liked flying from Biggin given the services available, hard runway, ILS, customs etc, but it comes at a price. The aircraft was regularly taken across Europe, including places like Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Austria, Italy, Spain, Germany and France. If going off on longer foreign trips, the £50 landing fee is just absorbed in the overall cost, but Biggin doesn't make sense if you want to go for short, local flights. So it depends upon what kind of flying you want to do.

As others have said, given the cost of parking (or hangarage), maintenance, insurance, fuel, it's hard to see how you'll get something in the range you are talking about without making some compromises.

I now fly from a private strip, which is about twice as far for me to drive (I can rarely do it in under an hour vs 25 mins to Biggin). It's a lovely airfield, but at the same time it doesn't have the services that Biggin does.

In the last 25 years of flying, I've yet to find the perfect combination of aeroplane, group size, location and cost, for most of us, it will always be a compromise.
The two groups I'm currently flying in at White Waltham (3rd group is still a restoration project)

Bolkow Monsun: £90/month, £75/hr tacho

PA28-140: £85/month, £85/hr tacho.

Neither is immune from cash calls, but they've not been large.

Group I recently left at Turweston

AA5: £40/month, £100/hr tacho.

Non-equity I use within a club at Cranfield

PA28-180: £50/month, £110/hr tacho + landing fees.

I doubt you'll find certified SEP flying much cheaper in the south of England - although equivalents you can, but microlighting and LAA permit SEP you almost certainly can get cheaper in groups.

Last edited by Genghis the Engineer on Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We seem to have reached the peak of this virus. However I don’t believe we have yet glimpsed the peak of the financial implications of the pandemic! That murky shadow is like the submerged portion of an iceberg.

I fully expect to see a significant amount of activity in the GA sales/shares world in the next year or two.

Just like when you are flying. Often, when unsure of precisely what to do, the best response is....... Nothing!

Put in the spadework by ‘putting yourself about’ and be patient.

Oh, and don’t settle for anything you aren’t totally over the moon with!
leiafee wrote:A factory built Thruster is more 'finished' than your average Skyranger.

Maybe, but a Skyranger is faster and when you're constantly against a 20kt headwind it makes a big difference to the capability of the aircraft. I was always wishing for another 20kts of speed and would not have wanted to give up any speed capability as was.

But in the slightly more densely populated south east your milage may vary! :D

A4 Pacific wrote:Oh, and don’t settle for anything you aren’t totally over the moon with!

I moved from Oxfordshire and had to leave the Yak 52 group there.

After about 18 months of not flying whilst looking for something I was totally over the moon with I gave up and settled for an ageing PA-22 108 in a newly-formed and less than solvent group.

There followed nine or ten years of the most enjoyable and convivial flying you could imagine. Something I hadn't anticipated when I joined the group on an "It'll do for the time being" basis.

Just saying.

Rob P
I would forget building, forget joining a group or doing anything yet...It is too soon in your flying hobby.
You say have only had a Microlight licence for 18months and you only really want to invest £5k+ into something.
That is just not enough to do anything with!
You haven't been flying long enough to really know what you want or have enough cash to give you sensible options.
My advice would be to keep renting until you build up a much bigger cash reserve and more flying hours. You will then be in a better position and have more options open to you.