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28 Sep 2021, 13:18 [ UTC - 5; DST ]


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 Post subject: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2021, 19:38 
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Hi all - when I tell you I'm very green, I mean it: I have just begun ground school for PPL while managing a busy career and caring for my young family, but with all that said, please do know that I have wanted to become a pilot more or less my entire life. I also appreciate both quality and value, hence why I'm posting here. :)

So - I'm trying to seize the opportunity without being careless or rash. I don't want to end up as a statistic in an NTSB report. I need a sounding board as I don't have the experience, context, or close contacts that fly, to know if I'm delusional or not.

Anyway, opportunities and goals as I see them:

Pre-COVID and starting again any time now, I frequently fly commercial from DEN (home) to LAS, PHX, and LAX, where my customers are. I live ~3 miles from KAPA, though, and as the majority of my business is in Scottsdale and the Vegas Strip, I thusly have delusions of getting my PPL and eventually (weather, experience, proficiency, and equipment permitting) to both KSDL and KHND and back. LA area, I'm not so sure about yet, and I think being realistic I would expect to make a stop in anything I could conceivably own or operate.

KAPA -> KSDL looks to be ~575 nm on a more southernly route not going directly west/southwest over the Continental Divide, and at 110 kts, 140 kts, or 170 kts cruise, means over 5 hours, 4 hours, or closer to 3 hours in the air respectively. KHND is even further, at 624 nm and ~6 hours each way at 110 kts.

Any way I look at it, 3-6 hours each way over desolate and rugged terrain with little experience seems like a bad idea, so I'd love to hear thoughts about what kind, quality, and amount of experience, I should be thinking about in order to soberly prepare for travel in this manner. PS, I am completely at ease with the notion that for any reason I can leave a plane in KDSL or KHEN by flying commercial home and then eventually get back to get the plane when convenient... I thankfully have the flexibility.

re: missions and student pilot time: will it matter that much if I start in a 172 and end up buying or getting access to something like a B36TC (or ... maybe even a Baron?) in a year or two? Is transition training enough, or would I want to think about spending more time in a transitional aircraft? I joined the local flight club and can start scheduling time with one of their CFIs through their app any time, but want to try to maximize my time and experience.

Anyway: I like speed, quality, and value (ex. my daily driver is a '08 S65 AMG - TTV12, 604hp factory for <$30k! So what if it eats coil packs occasionally...) and so am drawn to the Beech community. Would very much like to explore the opportunity to become a well-trained and positive member of the GA community without becoming a statistic, thank you and please advise. :)


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2021, 21:15 
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I'm not seeing any practical way to make these trips regularly in a 172 on a regular basis but it would be fun and good experience to try it occasionally. To do so will run the risk that you either have to turn around and head back home or make an intermediate overnight stop. Obviously that won't work if your schedule isn't flexible.

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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2021, 21:25 
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It seems to me the airlines are well equipped to fly from Denver, over the front range and Rockies, into major cities of the west with good airports. That is what they do much better than a 172 or a Bonanza. Especially in winter.

Get your PPL and enjoy flying around on weekends and good weather. As an example, I flew the family from Colorado Springs up to West Yellowstone nonstop in my Bonanza, about 3 hours each way. Makes it an easy summer weekend trip. Or down to Santa Fe.

For running a business with “must do” trips from Denver to Phoenix, Vegas, Los Angeles? Airlines please.

If you want to occasionally take the piston plane for trips where you have the time and the weather happens to be good? Sure. Buy a refundable airline ticket, and if everything else lines up on the appointed day, enjoy flying youself.


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2021, 21:35 
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Those trips, to be done on a schedule, are not good candidates for a GA plane, not even a Baron. Those are airline trips if needing to meet a schedule. If you had the flexibility and the WILL, to go a couple days early or late, on acct of weather, then a Bonanza or Baron would work. But people get killed all the time trying to "get there" on a hard schedule.

Get your license and enjoy some flexible fun times with family, let the professionals fly the scheduled work trips.


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 15 Jul 2021, 22:19 
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Great feedback thank you all. I do have the flexibility to add or remove days on either end of a trip, it’s a non-issue for which I’m really grateful. Fair comments re: airlines being best equipped. I’m not interested in owning a 172 or doing long trips such as these in one, but that’s the most common plane at the flight school’s pool.


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 11:10 
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Let me try asking a slightly different question: what is "too much" plane for a first plane to focus on training into? Asked another way, are there obvious markers (performance, workload, idiosyncrasies of a specific plane/model to stay away from) that end up with someone as green as me "getting behind" the aircraft that I should stay away from?

Looking at cost-benefit for different planes I keep coming back to Mooneys (something like a M20J 201, M20K 231, M20K 252, etc) as having the most bang for the buck for just-me cross-country speed, but I realize like most planes they're also aging airframes that need TLC and complex training etc.

Cirrus SR20/SR22s also are appealing if not somewhat more expensive. Fixed gear simplifies one part of the workload equation while being in a similar cruise range and of course with the Cirrus come the benefits of much newer aircraft, most with glass cockpits, and the CAPS system at the very least being a last-resort option doesn't seem like the worst idea for someone in my shoes.

Am I way out over my skis in entertaining planes this quick as a first plane, even if I stick to the CO/Front Range area to begin with? Very open to other suggestions and guidance.


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 11:23 
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In the 1950's, many military pilots learned in the Beech T34 Mentor, which is very similar to the Bonanza. You could learn to fly in a Bonanza, Saratoga, Mooney, etc.

The issues will be:

*) Insurance may be unavailable, or may be so expensive that it would save money to rent a 172 for your PPL.
*) The pool of instructors is smaller, and it make take more work to find someone to train you consistently each week for 3 months or whatever is needed for PPL. Flight schools that supply 172's and instructors take care of this in one swoop.
*) If you have a bad day and bend a firewall or tear up the landing gear, the loss of airframe value and cost to fix will be higher in a more expensive high performance plane. And it's your plane afterward, not the flight school's plane.
*) It will take more hours of instruction to be safe to fly on your own in a high performance airplane. In particular, the draggy fixed gear airplanes are easier to fly IFR for a newbie instrument pilot. AOPA did a test where they failed the attitude indicator on pilots in a Piper Archer and in a Bonanza in simulated IMC. Everyone flying the Archer recovered from the situation without an instructor having to save the day. Some flying the Bonanza had to be saved by CFI intervention.


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 13:24 
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Dave, I see a problem already. You say you are "managing a busy career and caring for my young family". When you start the flying portion of your PPL, you really need to fly at least three days per week at the beginning. This is to build up your "muscle memory". If you go longer than that, you'll find that you are having to re-learn things each time you go up. It will take forever to get your license that way. My suggestion is to carve out a couple months where learning to fly takes priority, and go for it.


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 13:42 
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A couple of things occurred to me.

When Dave says he does client meetings on those routes, he didn’t specify what flexibility he has for moving the meetings a few days either way or just going on short notice. If the meeting has 10 other people flying in from 5 different cities, then airlines it is. But if David just wants to pop in on short notice and visit a production line or a one-on-one meeting, he could do those trips flying himself. He picks the day based on weather.

The concept of buying a Bonanza or Mooney or whatever high performance airplane and learning to fly in it has been discussed on BT forever. Sure, the airlines have done it and so has the military. But for us, bad idea. Insurance is one obstacle, finding the right instructor is another.

I recommend just going to the local flight school and learning to fly in a Cherokee or Cessna172 then transitioning to something with a little more power for the IFR, get some retract time in an Arrow, etc. After you have private license with instrument rating, with some retract time, perhaps a commercial rating (not that hard), then buy a traveling airplane.

You sound like you are busy but have lots of energy. Know that flying is a long term time commitment. I once was training a guy in a Cessna 182 to get his instrument rating. He was struggling. I told him that he would have no problem doing this if he left his family and sold his business. He eventually gave up on the IR.

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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 16:03 
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Your mission screams commercial to me. You need to look at the other times you would fly out of APA and for what. Family trips, sight seeing, mission trips etc. APA is not a cheap place to keep a plane either. If your family is interested in flying because it puts grandparents an hour or two away rather than 6-8, then maybe GA. I am on the other side of the slope from you but my missions are different as well, GA works for me as airlines don't fly where I want to go. I can get to Vegas from Rifle in my Bo faster than if I fly commercial, I also have schedule flexibility due to the flights from Grand Jct only going and coming on Fridays and Mondays. In Denver, you have endless flight options commercially.

My suggestion is get the license first with the club plane, fly for a while and see what the next two years bring in your wish list for personal flying. You will be able to make a much more educated decision. I really can't see any justification for a GA plane to fit your mission at this time.

OTOH, I jumped in with both feet and no idea what I was doing when I bought my Bo. I had a terrible experience in an airport that convinced me to buy the Bo and start flying. Hasn't paid off yet (never will) but hey, I get to fly a split tail, and that in itself is worth the price of admission.

Take a long look at what the costs are and what you are comfortable with. Owning an airplane is the same as throwing money into the wind, only you get to ride the wind for a little while.

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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 16:12 
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Jesse, John, Mike, Wes - thank you all for your guidance!

Username Protected wrote:
Your mission screams commercial to me. You need to look at the other times you would fly out of APA and for what. Family trips, sight seeing, mission trips etc. APA is not a cheap place to keep a plane either. If your family is interested in flying because it puts grandparents an hour or two away rather than 6-8, then maybe GA. I am on the other side of the slope from you but my missions are different as well, GA works for me as airlines don't fly where I want to go. I can get to Vegas from Rifle in my Bo faster than if I fly commercial, I also have schedule flexibility due to the flights from Grand Jct only going and coming on Fridays and Mondays. In Denver, you have endless flight options commercially.

My suggestion is get the license first with the club plane, fly for a while and see what the next two years bring in your wish list for personal flying. You will be able to make a much more educated decision. I really can't see any justification for a GA plane to fit your mission at this time.

OTOH, I jumped in with both feet and no idea what I was doing when I bought my Bo. I had a terrible experience in an airport that convinced me to buy the Bo and start flying. Hasn't paid off yet (never will) but hey, I get to fly a split tail, and that in itself is worth the price of admission.

Take a long look at what the costs are and what you are comfortable with. Owning an airplane is the same as throwing money into the wind, only you get to ride the wind for a little while.


In my mind this isn't either/or commercial vs. GA - it's still primarily commercial, but one peculiarity of where I often find myself is that United doesn't have directs between PHX and LAS. If I lived in either market, this would be a slam dunk by comparison as PHX-LAS is so much shorter and doesn't have the Rockies between. But doing DEN->PHX->LAS->DEN or something along those lines (someday) via GA would be satisfying.


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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 16:29 
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Dave,

Ga is VERY satisfying! Flying yourself around is awesome! It can be stressful, but so is everyday life. If you don't mind plans changing and are able to adapt to rapidly changing scenarios with travel then it isn't a big deal. When you add others to the mix, wife that works out side the home or kids in school that can complicate things more and make it worse.

I don't know anyone that buys a small plane solely for the reason to use it as a commuter. I am sure there are a few, but I don't know them personally. We usually buy one because we want one, we use every trick in the book to try and justify it. :scratch:

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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 23:04 
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Dave,

I suggest you continue training in a 172, get your PPL in it and then use one to gain a little experience. You certainly could purchase a more capable airplane such as a Bonanza and get checked out in that. That checkout will likely need to be extensive (i.e 10-20 hours) to become insurable with so little experience and the first year premium may be expensive but if you can manage to put a hundred or more hours on the Bonanza in that year the next one should be more reasonable.

It sounds like you already realize that using a small airplane like a 172 or even a Bonanza for business travel requires considerable amount of schedule flexibility but I'm not sure you understand that this means there a good chance you will have to cancel a meeting with very little notice more than once. What you don't want to do is put yourself in the position of having to choose between disappointing or inconveniencing someone else vs taking unnecessary risks. If you advise everyone involved that this could happen it will make it much easier to choose the safer option when it's needed.

One other tidbit: The most effective way to train for the PPL and IR is to engage in that training 3-4 times per week at a minimum. This may be difficult to do if you're also building a career and raising a family but if you train less frequently it will take a lot longer to achieve your aviation goals. In addition, you'll find that freshly learned skills and knowledge are very perishable so you should plan to remain as active as possible for some time after passing those checkrides.

Good luck and have fun but do it safely.

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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 16 Jul 2021, 23:44 
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Dave,

You sound like me 15-20 years ago.

Never ever NOT look up and NOT be mesmerized by ANY airplane flying overhead.

Rule #1…2 & 3: Fire any instructor your gut tells you is not right for you.

Rule #4: Fly with an old guy/gal that has been instructing for thousands of hours and likely ignore first three rules.

Take an occasional fun day flying while taking lessons. Flying around in circles gets old at times.

Mooney, Bonanza, 182, Cirrus will all get you to destination if not in a hurry and flexible schedule.

I, however, would suggest a Citabria or other taildragger for first year to learn how to really fly.

Rule number 1.2 dash seven
Like John said you gotta be able to buckle down and fly 2-3 times week.

Otherwise you are just accumulating negative carbon creditZ

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 Post subject: Re: New member: very green and looking for guidance
PostPosted: 17 Jul 2021, 03:21 
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Username Protected wrote:
Never ever NOT look up and NOT be mesmerized by ANY airplane flying overhead.

That’s just it right there, isn’t it?

Part of this was spurred by a family road trip we made over Memorial Day. While the primary goal was to go visit my wife’s grandma in the DC area, we then went to Udvar-Hazy, stopped by Dover AFB’s transport museum, and finally spent most of a day in Dayton going through the National Air Force Museum. Surprisingly all of us, even my wife, enjoyed the museums.

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At least I found one Beech in there, right? :)


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