To fly or not to fly? If you're me, that's no question at all. I'd fly a plane until the wings flew off...of course, hopefully I'd have a parachute on and a prayer in mind, I'd also have to do it where no FAA guy would find out, and of course I'd have to either have enough fuel on board or refueled many, many, many.........many times, in the air. Why I wouldn't take the time to stop for gas on the ground is a question I can't really answer - maybe it just makes sense, so that's why I wouldn't. But on to the entire point of this....so....
You've heard of aviation, pilots, airlines, air travel and such. Maybe you've been interested in planes. Maybe you've been interested in flying. Maybe you've never had an interest in either or perhaps in something else... You might be thinking flying is too expensive for you, it's an expensive hobby with not much to show in the end. Maybe not. Maybe your family doesn't support the idea, maybe you don't support the idea.
Believe it or not, these are extremely common situations, and I see it nearly every day. I was working just the other day and overheard a conversation on very similar topics (yes, I was eaves-dropping, but sometimes you can't help it in a quiet building, so shhh...). A man who hangars his airplane at the airport, took some acquaintances flying. From the looks of it, they were not close friends, they were friendly with each other of course, but the only reason he seemed to have taken them flying was to show them how much fun it was and to be open to them. At the end of their flight they began talking about both the expenses and the conveniences of flying. It hit home for me. This man did a great job of being realistic about it all, remaining enthusiastic the whole time.
What does it all boil down to? It boils to down to worth. What is flying worth to you? Do you care if you spend and don't receive anything back but the intangible, or are you the type that weighs the costs and benefits - looking for what you will get in return?
You need to drive somewhere that will take you six hours in a car. In a plane, say a Piper Warrior or Cessna 172 , you can get there in maybe two and a half hours. Not looking at anything else, is this worth it to you?
Lets look at a time table. You have a lunch meeting (business or pleasure, you pick) that will last maybe 2 hours. You're meeting everyone at 11:30am. In a car, you will need to leave at...(any guesses?), hopefully 5:30am...planning on no traffic. Okay, so you make it on time, and everything is wrapped up by 1:30pm. You say your good byes, and after filling up on gas you're on your way again by 2pm. With no traffic , and no stops, you'll be getting hope around 8pm. Long day? I know I would hit the hay after that...but then again, I'm not a morning person. In a plane you might plan on being at the airport by 7:30 to be safe and taking off by 8:30am, giving you half an hour to get from the airport you're arriving at (11:00am arrival) to wherever you need to be. Again lunch is up by 1:30pm and you're on your way to the airport by 2:00pm. You take off by 3:00pm (being conservative) and arrive at your home airport by 5:30 pm. No sooner than you land, you're greeted by your wife or husband when you walk in the door at 6:00pm. Dinner is on the table, and you're hungry! Eat up, then go relax. If you're me, you'd enjoy that - maybe get in a good movie before you're off to bed, because after all, you didn't get up before the sun.
Let's quickly look at finances...Assume you own your airplane, I have never owned an airplane, and don't deal with maintenance and insurance, so that would be something you would have to do your own homework on for now. This is what I do know: My car, if I'm not driving like a maniac, gets about thirty miles per gallon. Lets assume that six hour trip is 360 miles and I drive sixty miles per hour the entire time...that's using twelve gallons of gas one way, and twenty-four gallons round trip. At $3 a gallon, that's $72. I can usually lean out a Piper Warrior to burn six gallons per hour. On a two and a half hour trip that's fifteen gallons. At roughly $4.75 per gallon, round $71.25 up to $72, and it's the exact same fuel cost.
What is time worth to you? If time doesn't matter, how about the fun? What is the enjoyment worth? What is it worth to your family to see you home for dinner? Is it worth maintenance and insurance? You may have another reason to fly, that I haven't thought of just yet. Whatever your reason, think about it - what you come up with may surprise you (or I could be wrong...I admit I sometimes am, okay, I can't admit that but you get my point...I think).
Happy flying, and see you next time.
Up in the Air