Owning and managing a cabin-class airplane can be a burdensome proposition, despite the beneficial bounties of being able to go where you want, when you want, in privacy. The care and feeding of our airplane isn’t cheap, especially when you add in storage, maintenance and insurance. Private flying is a wonderful freedom and privilege, at whatever level you participate—jet, turboprop, piston twin or single. But, all of us bog down a bit now and then, under the weight we carry just to have the plane in the hangar.
If there’s one way to ease the burden, it’s to involve yourself in the camaraderie of aviation. You probably aren’t the only aircraft owner on the field, or even in the hangar, with similar worries. Walk over to the person with the luggage stacked by his or her bird and introduce yourself, as the owner of that set of wings across the way. Before long, you’ll probably find that the two of you have flown into some of the same places, had the same recurring failure mode in the GPS, gotten a curiously complex routing from ATC or are looking for the same ways to make flying easier.
It’s just comforting to know you’re not alone, out here on the ramp. And maybe you two can share a ride sometime, perhaps to pick up one or the other’s stranded airplane, or when you happen to be on the way to a common destination. Yes, we like to do things our way, by ourselves — but once in a while it’s nice to find a fellow spirit.
This extends, of course, to type-club meetings, but that’s probably a once-a-year opportunity unless you’re into chapter activities. Owning similar airplanes represents a unique bond, so one should take advantage of the fellowship the connection offers as regularly as you can, especially if your Duke or CJ compatriots are close by. It’s worthwhile to put your gripes and gratitudes in a basket and pull each other’s out for examination.
Some of the best benefits of sharing are gained in actually partnering up on an airplane. It does take a special connection with an individual to want to buy part of a plane with them, but when it works it helps both financially and spiritually. Each partner can uplift the other when a rough patch is encountered.
Probably the best time to consider forming an airplane owning partnership is when your annual utilization is below 100 hours per year, and you don’t see much likelihood of it increasing. It will be better for the airplane to get more exercise, and splitting up the costs will make ownership more palatable. Yes, there will be a little more wear-and-tear from increased flying, but the big items, fixed costs like storage and insurance, are knocked down. Friendships aside, partnerships should be set up like any business, on paper and agreed upon.
Going it alone is fine, once in a while. Sharing the burden is better, for the long haul.