Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A New Adventure: Partial Ownership

I've spent a lot of time wondering how to make flying safer, easier, and cheaper; some on this blog, some otherwise. We've talked about experimentals and homebuilts, about joining different clubs, making my home base RHV instead of PAO, and getting my CFI rating.  I've talked about how much I love Mooneys (in the certified world) and Vans and others (in the experimental world) because of their speed and efficiency.

So as of Friday, I'm officially a part owner of N6824R, a 1967 Cessna Turbo 210G based at SJC.  While 24R does not fulfill all of my dreams, it is a very good airplane, has a very good partnership around it, and will make my flying safer, easier, and cheaper, in a way that works with my goals.

What are these goals?

1. Have a reliable IFR platform to plan and take trips around the west coast.  24R is a great machine for this - while it's not nearly as efficient as a Mooney or an experimental, it's got much greater capacity than a Mooney and is a much more stable IFR platform than many experimentals.

2. Buy into an established partnership, if I'm going to buy. 24R's 5-way partnership is very well established, and I have been able to buy in without having to think about all the logistics and legality of creating a business entity, recruiting co-owners, finding a home base for an aircraft, etc.

3. Home base closer to home. I simply don't go near PAO any more.  24R is based at SJC, which is easy to get to, and nicer (to me) than RHV.

4. Save money flying.  This depends on how you count it, and how much I fly.  The hourly costs on 24R, even with its significant fuel burn, are lower by about $20/hr than what I was paying for (albeit very nicely equipped) 172s at Advantage Aviation at PAO.  And that's assuming say 65% power for about 160 KTAS, vs. the 110 KTAS in the 172.  G1000s don't make your plane go faster.  So if I fly enough, it'll be enough to offset the monthly fees (which aren't that much) and the maintenance costs.  Generally, though, flying will still be expensive.

5. Fly safer.  Getting to know one airplane really, really well has its advantages.  Also, when that airplane has the ability to fly into the flight levels, that also has its advantages.  A few times, when I've taken a 172 out on a longer trip, I've felt like I'm not giving myself much margin - for example, flying over a cloud layer all the way over Oregon, tops at about 10,000, maintaining an altitude of 11,000, outside temps below freezing, service ceiling 12,500 and no O2 on board anyway.  What if the tops went up to 11,000, or 12,000?  Not much in the way of options - I don't remember the MEA on that particular route, but it would've had to have been below 8000 if I needed to descend below freezing level.  The T210 is an extremely capable aircraft.

6.  Learn. The T210 is a more complex aircraft than anything I've flown before, with greater pilot demands in terms of engine management in particular, but also with its increased speed, staying ahead of the airplane will be much harder (though I can always slow down).  Also, its avionics are dated.  So I will have to learn (again) to get good at tracking VOR radials, and hopefully also learn about avionics options so we can upgrade at some point.  I will also have the opportunity to learn how partnerships are run, from people who have run a good one for a while.

I'm very, very excited for this new adventure, and the adventures to come!

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