Thank you to the T&T community for the well wishes as Jared and I embark into the world of aircraft ownership. We are almost two months in and still find ourselves visiting the hangar just to be sure an airplane really is in there…
While the process is fresh in our minds, I thought it’d be insightful to share our top takeaways from the search – and based on what we experienced, the owner-flown market is as hot as they say. The following bullets are what we consider the most critical steps to our success from the start of the search to making an offer (August 2020 to February 2021).
- Build a Team of Support – Two (or more) minds are better than one. From the get-go, we reached out to friends and contacts who are/were aircraft owners. Jared called and listened to their real-world experiences, explained our mission and aircraft contenders, and asked countless budget and maintenance-related questions. Whenever a listing popped out, it was swiftly forwarded to this “support group” for outside opinions. The added insight (especially in a time-critical market) helped us determine what core items to focus on as well as propose questions we might not consider.
- Set Up Automatic Search Emails – In today’s market, this is a must. The (good) airplanes are disappearing from online listings in literally hours. We recommend visiting the various online aircraft marketplaces to set up a custom search and enable automatic emails. Check the listings and emails every day and look for additional links to sales organizations’ independent websites. Commonly, these companies also offer their own mailing lists.
- Turn to the Professionals – Tapping a team of professionals for legal advice/paperwork, insurance estimates, maintenance planning, etc., allowed us to rest easier and move faster knowing the steps are done correctly. Yes, there is an added cost, but we felt it was easily worth the comfort and efficiency, especially due to the added complexity of our co-ownership and the pace of the market. Any time we needed guidance or ran into a roadblock, an experienced professional was just a quick call away.
- Ask Lots of Questions – The aircraft search process is basically an endless stream of questions and research – questions to friends, owners, sellers, salespeople, professionals. As soon as Jared viewed a listing of interest, he would send his top four or five questions to the seller regarding the airplane’s specific performance and history, forward the listing to our support team, then conduct more online research. But the more you know and learn about the airplane sooner, the fewer surprises there will be later.
- Forums are Your Friend – Owner’s group forums (ex. Mooneyspace, BeechTalk, MMOPA, etc.) offer invaluable pools of knowledge from hundreds, if not thousands, of experienced owners. This can especially be beneficial on the maintenance side when you need to find specific information related to a make and model down to the year. Or if the airplane you are interested in is located in another region, forums can be a great place to find a reputable shop to conduct the pre-purchase inspection. Forums also typically have a section with for-sale listings (which is how we found our Bonanza!).
- Be Ready to Move – If you think you are remotely interested in buying an airplane, start the research and market monitoring now. Doing as much work as you can ahead of time with financing, insurance, hangar, etc., will let you pull the trigger when you find what you want. As soon as we saw the “one,” we had a conditional offer on the airplane within 18 hours. You never know when the right airplane will show up, and it may surprise you. And in all likelihood, if it jumps off the page at you, the same is happening to others.
We want to give special thanks to the following team of people and businesses for their help in our search and buying process: Randy Groom, John Arnold, Brent Hansen, Clemens Aviation, Clemens Insurance (Jerry Clemens), Jerry Brady, Kyle Brady, Partners in Aviation (Mark Malloy), Business Aviation Law Group (Bart Peters), Thomas Turner, and Ryan Reid.