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So I bought a V-Tail...By Kathy Wrobel of Prairie Aircraft Sales - www.prairieaircraft.comIn the spring of 2019 I received a call from a client who wanted to sell their aircraft. They were not really interested in going through the whole process and just wanted me to purchase it as it was. That is not uncommon and I have a few aircraft for sale now that are being sold “as is where is”. This means you need to do your own due diligence and know there will probably be a few surprises.
I hired a really good AME to do an inspection. He spent several days going over the aircraft and logs, making a list of the items that would need to be brought up to date. Now, the key here is that this aircraft had been kept in a heated hangar, but had not turned a prop since 2003. That is 16 years with no movement.
I knew what this meant and that it would likely be a costly endeavor to get it flying safely again. I was not wrong on that one. I had hoped that I would be able to just overhaul the prop, but when I sent it in for overhaul, it was too corroded and needed to be replaced. If you going to buy a new prop, you might as well go for the 3 blade, which I did and do not regret that at all. The engine on first inspection looked like it just needed lifters etc, but once we tore it apart; it also needed all new pistons. We now have a new prop, and a repaired engine, so the aircraft is very safe to fly.
We then completed the annual which included a large number of other snags related to lack of use on the aircraft. It was then time to fly her and see what she did. I have an amazing pilot that flies it for me, and warned him, once you start flying, it will probably start breaking, as that is what aircraft do that sit for a long time. “So, you want me to go flying, and you are pretty sure it is going to break?” Yes of course, any problem with that? Of course not, just stay close to the airport for the first few flights! Well it did not break, thanks to the very detailed and well completed annual, it flies beautiful, engine runs great and the 3 blade prop is very nice.
However, the avionics became an issue, and we had to change the tires as they had a really bad flat spot from sitting for so long. We ended up fitting a G5 to replace the inop HSI, and installing a 430W that I had on the shelf. We are still working out a few bugs to make everything work together with the Autopilot etc, but I now have an IFRsafe aircraft that is fast and gets me where I need to go, weather pending, as I don’t have any anti-icing on the aircraft. I also purchased a full set of heavy duty covers and a very good 4 place Mountain High Oxygen system.
Yes, of course I have way more invested than I could sell it for, but that is aircraft ownership. When I first mentioned that to my aircraft owner friends, they just laughed at me, they say, never add up the bills or it will drive you crazy, just enjoy the fact that you can fly and get to where you are going at your convenience. They were right of course, it is worth every penny!
I love the aircraft, and my pilot Christian and I have flown it quite a bit. We were in the aircraft almost every day for a full week getting caught up on visits once we were allowed to travel. I would never have been able to do that without it. We have only really had it flying for a few months, but with the way the world was, we would not have been able to go anywhere anyway.
The moral of this story? If you have an aircraft, and you are not flying it, please don’t let it just sit. It depreciates by not flying. Even if you have to find someone else, together work out the insurance requirements, get the aircraft in the air. There are lots of pilots out there that would love the chance to fly but can’t currently afford their own aircraft. Talk to your local flight school, maybe there is someone who wants to build some time. Keep the value in your aircraft by keeping it flying. You will have more value in an aircraft that is higher time, even a higher time engine, than an aircraft that has low times and is not flying.
I am sure we will still have snags relating to the lack of use in the V-Tail, but in the long run it really has been worth it and I am super happy with the aircraft performance and capabilities. I will continue to upgrade as we fly more and see what the needs are.
As I travel to airports looking at aircraft that I am about to list, I see so many aircraft sitting at airports that have not moved in years. It is very sad to see. There are folks looking for aircraft like this, and would even buy them if they have been sitting, but only at a price that will reflect what needs to be done to get the aircraft safely back in the air.
To summarize, if you have an aircraft and you have not been flying it, get it back in the air, somehow with someone, put some hours on it, it is the best thing for the aircraft and ultimately for you, as when it does come time to let it go, you will receive the value for it that it should bring. Fly safe everyone, and fly!