What does it cost to own an airplane?

I have several friends who put their whole lives in spreadsheets. It makes me a little bit jealous because I generally don’t have the discipline for this. I think in generalities, not minute details. Plus it’s just not my style.

I’ve been building my airplane for the second year now, and I get two questions most frequently:

  1. When will it be done?
  2. How much does it cost?

The other most frequently asked questions are around how I find the time and how safe are these things. Posts on that later…

The when will it be done is “when it’s done.” I’ll admit that when I started this project, I was thinking “I’m going to bust this out in six months and get to flying.”

You have no idea how much you don’t know about airplanes and how you build them.

Also, I’m surprised by how enjoyable I’ve found the process of learning all of this stuff.

I could probably put my head down and just bust this thing out in six months. The instructions are good enough that if you just shut up and do what they say, in the end, you’ll probably have an airplane.

But I’d be denying myself a considerable part of the journey.

The second question “How much does it cost?” Is a loaded one. It usually means one of two things:

“Could I afford this sort of thing?”


“Is $60k and thousands of hours of your time really worth it when you can buy a two-seat airplane for $25k and fly it tomorrow?”

A variation on this one is also “If you put that time and money into some kind of investment, it may be the more ‘responsible’ choice for your money.”

While I’m not advocating you chose unwise vehicles for your money, I question what that money is for in the first place.

I’m a work to live person. Not a live to work person. I know many people for whom work is the point of their lives. That’s cool, but it’s not who I am.

So if my money and investments are for something, this is it. While I DO have larger aspirations and a sense for wanting to make an impact, I also want to be a participant in life.

Ohh I’m in a hurry to get things done
Ohh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why?

Alabama – I’m In A Hurry

The real question to me is not “How much did this cost you?” it’s “What’s the value of this?”.

Value (worth) is not the same as cost.

If the most joyful thing you can think of doing today is reading a book to children, the cost is a few dollars. But it’s worth… well, a lot. A $400 can of Caviar is worth nothing to someone who hates Caviar, but it still costs $400.

Greg Brown calls his airplane “Flying Carpet,” and I’m super jealous. Wish I had beat him to that one.

Having your own airplane is worth more than money. It can take you places you can’t get anywhere else. It can give people experiences they’ve only read about, and my favorite is that it can take away some of the fear of flight.

I’ve taken people up for their first ride in a small plane, and I always hear the same thing.

“This is amazing.”
“I thought it would be scary.”

My favorite was when I asked a certain person (Hi Mom!) if she wanted to feel what a stall is like, “OMG, NO!”

So we did one.

“Wow, that was… not a big deal. It’s like the airplane WANTED to start flying again.”

They do want to fly. At least it sorta seems that way. What this experience is worth to me is priceless.

Does it cost a lot? It sure does. I’m just not sure it matters.

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