You might be surprised to learn that not every pilot owns his or her aircraft. In fact, renting and other non-ownership options for aircraft are approximately the same as those in the housing market — and for similar reasons. About two thirds own and one third don’t.
The most popular reason for renting housing and aircraft is the cost. Classic (older, simpler) aircraft can be purchased for under $25,000. More complex used aircraft are available under $100,00. New light-sport aircraft are priced between $80,000 and $150,000. New four-seat and larger certified aircraft begin at $200,000 and go north from there. Even the down payment (typically about 20 percent with good credit) could be beyond your current reach. Renting is a good option.
Or maybe you have the down payment but your credit score isn’t quite high enough to get you preferred interest rates. You want to save while you repair your credit, but don’t want to put off flying.
Also, you might not know exactly what you want to buy yet. You might prefer to go on a few “dates” with attractive planes, looking for one that’s compatible. You might discover that the ugly duckling you first passed up might be the best catch after all.
Stall Warning! Falling in love with flying can sometimes challenge other relationships you have, especially if you all of a sudden want to spend thousands of shared dollars on your new love. You could find resistance, particularly if others don't share your enthusiasm. Taking any relationship, including flying, a little slower might be a better option for all of your relationships.
Finally, you might be in transition. Maybe you don’t want to get into a long-term financial commitment until you’ve settled down in a new job or location. Meantime, you want to fly.
So there are many good reasons to consider renting your wings as the best option. Perhaps it’s a stopgap measure that holds you over until the day you can buy your own. Or you might decide that renting is a good long-term option, because you never intend to buy a plane of your own. No matter what you want from flying, making an informed decision can help you enjoy flying more. That’s the goal.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide