I'm thinking of buying an airplane

Wolfy

Well-Known Member
A barnstorming tour I went on recently reinvigorated my love of low and slow, small airplane, tail dragger flying. Next year I'd like to be hopping rides in a Curtiss Junior, if the owner restores it by summer.
In the mean time, I want to give tail dragger instruction. There is nobody in my area right now doing it, and I know there's a market. My main business would be 2 day tail dragger courses. This would work for a few reasons. I live in Sonoma, CA which is a huge tourist town, people will be happy to come out and spend a weekend in the wine country. There are five airports within 9 miles, 2 of which are known for their crosswinds. Personally, it would work because of my corporate flying schedule. The job is actually very flexible.

I also want it to be a light sport airplane. I plan on getting my sport pilot CFI first to get it done quickly and so I don't have to deal with the Feds. There's also a large market of aspiring sport pilots out there with no airplane for them to fly. If I have a partner in the airplane, he can stay busy with them.

The airplane I'm leaning towards right now is a 7AC Champ. There are real good ones out there for under $30,000. I'd want a starter though, based on what I just saw a propeller do to somebody's thumb. I still prop airplanes, I just don't want every student pilot propping my airplane when they want to solo.

If anybody has advice on what airplane to get, on teaching tail dragger or running accelerated courses like this, I'd love to hear it.
 

WacoFan

Bigly
Love your post - if it were up to me I would do nothing but taildraggers forever.

The Champ is a GREAT airplane. I have heard lots of people say that although it is not the iconic plane the J-3 is, it is actually a little better as a trainer - It flies more like a bigger airplane. These are all relative though - all the planes in this class are similiar (with the exception of the Luscombe).

I would encourage you to broaden your horizons a bit. You can get pretty nice T-crafts for less than a Champ, and you can also get a nice Aeronca Chief for less than a Champ. I spent some time in a Cessna 140 as a student and loved it, so I would definately consider the Cessna 120/140's (although I do not think they are LSA capable). My personal favorite is the Luscombe in many ways. It has a reputation that it doesn't deserve (bad ground handling! Student eater! hairiest thing this side of a Pitts or Swift or T-6!!!). The Luscombe will simply go where you tell it - it is a great airplane. I think, of the planes above, the Luscombe can be had for less than any of them, it looks the coolest, can be LSA certified, is the fastest and most efficient, and probably the most fun to fly (which is hard for me to judge - they are ALL fun to fly. Kind of like girl - they are all fun until you have to start spending money on them).

The Cessna 120/140 would probably be a great plane - good X-country comfort and reasonable speed (much wider than the Luscombe and easier to ingress/egress because the Luscombe has sticks), but I would personally like a Luscombe so I could slap a 150hp Lyoming in the nose - that makes it a neat airplane.

I would encourage you to check out the Pilot Report section of www.airbum.com which has pireps of all the airplanes you are thinking of...plus airplanes you would probably be interested in outside of that.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Wolfy,

The DPE I used for my private teaches tailwheel and aerobatics in her Citabria, and she's a wealth of knowledge about the very subjects you're describing. If you like, I can probably get her info and connect you two.

PM me if you're interested.
 

Wolfy

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the airbum site. I read all of the Classics comparisons in the reports and they were a lot of help. The thing that worries me about the Luscombe is that they're aluminum and the condition so many of them are in. The reputation about flight characteristics doesn't scare me off, but it might not be the best for the word of mouth advertising I'm hoping for.

A Chief looks like a good option as well. I'm just not sure why so many less of them were made and why there are less expensive. You'd think there'd be a good reason.
 

Matt13C

Well-Known Member
I think one of the sweetest taildraggers is the Pitts Special S2B. I could not handle one at such a low flight time and I do not think it would be the best for what you want, but damn is it sweet! I would love to own one and fly it around with the canopy off, if that is possible. It really is not that expensive either.

If you lived on the east coast I would gladly be your first customer. Now that I have my PPL I want my tail wheel endorsement really bad. I don't think anything will be able to top flying along at 60kts at a few hundred feet or doing aerobatics in a tiny bi-wing! (Unless I somehow was able to fly a modern day fighter.)

Good luck!

http://www.controller.com/listings/...638.htm?guid=A5742CC136AD461AA8229FDC478B3F81
 

WacoFan

Bigly
Thanks for the airbum site. I read all of the Classics comparisons in the reports and they were a lot of help. The thing that worries me about the Luscombe is that they're aluminum and the condition so many of them are in. The reputation about flight characteristics doesn't scare me off, but it might not be the best for the word of mouth advertising I'm hoping for.

A Chief looks like a good option as well. I'm just not sure why so many less of them were made and why there are less expensive. You'd think there'd be a good reason.
Grandpa had a Chief that we puttered around in - a pre-war chief. The Chief was supposed to be a more executive thing...side by side (like a T-craft, etc). The sidexside was supposedly better and more sophisticated than tandem. The Champ was a true trainer. The Chief was not manufactured as much as the Champ post-war, when most were built (champs that is). The Champ was a superior trainer and the tandem seating was good for that. The Chief was a good airplane, but if you were going to spend the same money (new) people grabbed the Champ. The are similiar, and people like the Chief...but I think most like the Champ better. If some of your flying is going to be introducing kids or something, it might be better in the Chief - you can see them smile...and more importantly, see them turn green so you can grab them a barf bag.

Don't be shy of the Luscombe - yeah, it is aluminium...but many of those Chief and Champ wings have wood...so, pick em. Just be careful and have a knowledgeable old airplane guy to help look it over.

Also, the 120/140 really should be considered...comfortable, good perormance, easy enough to train in, etc. Find one and go fly it if you can - you may enjoy it. Most important - let us know what you are thinking doing and good luck!
 

Nark

Macho Superpilot
I second the 120/140. I've flown a few taildraggers and the best to teach in are ones were you can see what your student is doing (ie panel). The Champ is a bit mushy in the controls, or perhaps that just what I felt after coming from a high performance ac. I also like the T-Craft.

Check out www.cessna120-140.org for some more info and they have a for sale section.

Enjoy and have fun with it.
 

WacoFan

Bigly
I second the 120/140. I've flown a few taildraggers and the best to teach in are ones were you can see what your student is doing (ie panel). The Champ is a bit mushy in the controls, or perhaps that just what I felt after coming from a high performance ac. I also like the T-Craft.

Check out www.cessna120-140.org for some more info and they have a for sale section.

Enjoy and have fun with it.
They are nice airplanes...but someday, do try a 150hp Luscombe. That is what I want...until I gain weight at least.
 

Tram

Well-Known Member
Taildraggers rule..

I'd say get an RV series of aircraft, but they don't make an LSA TD..

 

Wolfy

Well-Known Member
My problem with the Cessnas is just what WacoFan said; they're not LSA. I think that's a good market to be in right now.
 

Nark

Macho Superpilot
I highly recomend the T-Craft BC-12D in that case.
I believe it's an LSA.
Enough power to lift my fat ass (200lbs) plus another guy (160ish). It's extremly simple. Really forgiving on landing.
 

Boris Badenov

Let's get this thing on the hump!
Did my tailwheel in a champ way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Even then, the insurance put the cost of rental/instruction in the (then brand new) 172R realm. Also: the spars are wood. That's not a problem if you get one that's been taken care of and continue to do so, but it can get extremely expensive extremely fast.

Champs and Chiefs are something like 80% identical, IIRC, and the Chiefs tend to go for a lot less green, green you can use to maintain it.

It's a cool idea, and I hope it works out, but go in with your eyes open w/r/t costs of ownership/maintenance. The 120/140s (esp. 140s) may not be as exciting, but they're probably more of a "known quantity" unless you know some cool old guy who cut his teeth on fabric and has an A&P.

PS. I don't know anything about the BC-12D, but it's apparently an even cheaper alternative in a lot of ways. I will confess that the only "aviation-chick" I ever found anything more than repulsive was an F-16 pilot who flew a BC-12D out of ANP back in the day. As God is my witness, all this and she was hot too. What I wouldn't give to have a picture of myself talking to her, tongue hanging out, eyes bulging, pathetic-aviation-nerd stiffy and all. On that day, every male on the property was a Riddle Ace.
 

Tram

Well-Known Member
They are a lot of fun.. I think maybe one day I'd like to get an 8, but the 6 is a blast.. We had thought about selling the 6 for a little while, as it's not the best platform for beginner aerobatics, but as I have gotten more comfortable with the airplane, I am really enjoying it..

It is one of the few airplanes that does ALMOST everything well.. It's fast, aerobatic, good short field bird, sips the fuel, has great range and keeps you smiling.. :) Too bad it's not a 6 seater.. ;)
 

WacoFan

Bigly
I highly recomend the T-Craft BC-12D in that case.
I believe it's an LSA.
Enough power to lift my fat ass (200lbs) plus another guy (160ish). It's extremly simple. Really forgiving on landing.
T-crafts are nice airplanes - reasonably fast too (that is relative, but they are efficient and faster than comparably powered machines except the Luscombe).

The wood wings vs aluminium is kind of a pick 'em, as I said. Rather than wave off one type because of wood, or another kind because of alluminium, just be sure you get someone knowledgable about vintage airplanes and their design and manufacture to look at it. You will find GREAT examples of airplanes with wood and also find examples of Luscombes and C 120/140's that have no corrosion...but you will find plenty of the opposite too.

If I had to choose, I would probably do a Luscombe and if LSA weren't an issue, I would slap a 150hp Lyc in it. That said, I would love any of them. Expand a bit too - over 50 years old, many will have the same problems, so may as well expand to some other great old airplanes - look for an Interstate Cadet, or perhaps a Porterfield CP40. Maybe even an Auster (an Australian airplane built under license from T-craft that had an inline 4 engine - you can sometimes find one). Commonwealth Skyranger is a neat airplane in this class, and one of my favorites (and looks cool) a Funk, built by the Funk Brothers. If I could find a Funk I would snap it up in a heartbeat.
 

cmsuav8r

Well-Known Member
If you are serious about doing this, I strongly suggest sitting down and developing a business plan to answer many questions. How will you fund purchasing the airplane? How will you initially market yourself to generate a reputation? How much will maintenance, insurance, and other operating costs be? What will your operating policies be? Where do you want your business to be in 5 years? I'm sure there are several other viable questions, the point is as was already stated, go into this with your eyes wide open and have as much of it planned out as possible.
 

WacoFan

Bigly
If you are serious about doing this, I strongly suggest sitting down and developing a business plan to answer many questions. How will you fund purchasing the airplane? How will you initially market yourself to generate a reputation? How much will maintenance, insurance, and other operating costs be? What will your operating policies be? Where do you want your business to be in 5 years? I'm sure there are several other viable questions, the point is as was already stated, go into this with your eyes wide open and have as much of it planned out as possible.
What a vile, crappy post you added! How do you think Wolfy is ever going to get an airplane if you insist upon these quaint notions you call "viable questions" and "plans"?

If you want him to answer these questions, he will be forced to see the true economics of owning an airplane, and even worse...trying to own an airplane and make money with it. If the airlines followed your simple steps and forced themselves to answer the questions you posed where would we be? We would have SWA, FedEx, and UPS...the rest would be toast and many here would be out of a job.

Wolfy - ignore the above poster - he is trying to get you to do the logical thing and that can be destructive to your desire to own an airplane...particularly a vintage airplane.
 
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