Ongoing costs are those that continue whether you fly or not. They include plane storage (hangar or tie-down rent), insurance, and time-based inspections called annuals.
The one you have the most control over is plane storage. If you have more than one airport nearby, shop around for the lowest hangar rent. Or you can opt for an outdoor parking spot to which you attach your aircraft’s wings and tail, called a tie-down. Tie-downs, of course, are much cheaper than hangar rent. However, in areas of high winds or hail the smartest move might be a storage hangar. Hangar rent can range from $100 to $500 a month or more, depending on the size of the hangar and whether it is shared with other planes.
There are hundreds of private airports around the country that are not included in the A/FD (Airport/Facility Directory) or other directories. You might find them marked on sectional charts or discover them through other pilots. You sometimes can find low-cost parking or storage on these private strips.
Another option is to choose a plane with folding wings and park your plane in your garage or driveway between trips. It’s a little less convenient, but can be much less expensive. New LSAs and experimental aircraft with fold-up wings typically take less than a half hour to make flight-ready. Some can be set up safely in just a few minutes. Any car that can tow an 800-lb. load can pull your empty LSA.
Insurance can be the biggest ongoing cost. If you own a plane you’ll need it whether you’re flying or not. There are two types of aviation insurance: hull and liability. Typically, hull insurance is the most expensive. It covers damage to a plane caused by accidents, wind, and hail. Your plane’s hull insurance is based on the replacement value of your plane, and the premium goes down if you have a hangar or garage in which to store the plane. Liability insurance covers losses you might incur through injury or damage to other people or their property. If you rent aircraft you might decide to carry aircraft rental insurance instead. You must have liability insurance, but hull insurance is optional.
Insurance brokers and agents will give you cost estimates based on your specific needs. Refer to aviation magazines listed in Resources section. You’ll see ads for many insurance services in flying magazines published by aviation associations to which you belong.
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Another ongoing cost is the price of reading materials such as new sectional charts (refreshed every six months), the A/FD and other airport directories, and flying magazines. Contact the FAA or Sporty’s Pilot Shop for these and other pilot resources. To keep the skies friendly you need to know what’s new.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide