by Pete Schoeninger
Q: I have been thinking of buying a Cessna 185 as an investment and just storing it for 10-15 years thinking they are out of production, and are a popular airplane in the “outback,” and therefore could appreciate in value quite a bit. Would you do that?
A: No. Who knows what airplane values will do in the future, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of appreciation left for older, out-of-production airplanes. I do have a friend who bought a C-185 many years ago for about $30,000 and recently sold it for $90,000. It is unusual for an airplane to triple in value over time, but he got lucky. Even so, I would estimate his expenses – besides normal operating expenses – were as follows: hangar rent for many years @ $2,500 a year; engine overhaul, $28,000; insurance, perhaps $1,500 per year; a minor upgrade in radios, $15,000; etc. So he had a total of more than $90,000 in it when he sold it, but he got a lot of great use out of it, and it was worth more than a used car of the same vintage. Airplanes are built to FLY, not sit.
Q: At EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year, I saw many innovations, but much was being directed toward experimental aircraft owners and not those of us who own certified aircraft. Why don’t more manufacturers of this “gee whiz” equipment, such as autopilots, manufacture for certified aircraft?
A: Your observation is correct. The massive cost of certifying equipment for a relatively small sale volume is cost prohibitive. Unfortunately, this results in certified airplanes flying around with decades old engines, avionics and electronics, which does nothing to advance the industry and safety. Let’s hope that our national aviation organizations – through our support – can convince the Federal Aviation Administration to allow some of these innovations to be installed on certified aircraft in the future.
Q: I am moving from Kentucky to Minnesota (job transfer) in November. The engine in my Mooney is nearing overhaul, and I plan to have that done next summer. Last week, I stopped by the airport I will be relocating my aircraft to, and was told by local pilots to make sure I install an engine heater at overhaul. In the interim, someone suggested using two 100-watt trouble lights under the engine oil tank, and a blanket over the cowling. Is that ever done?
A: DO NOT put lights in your cowling under your engine oil tank. There is a risk of fire with a drop of fuel or oil falling onto a very hot bulb. Ask your aircraft technician if he has a forced air preheater that could heat your engine just before start up for a modest fee. This was the preferred method before electric engine heaters became popular 25 years ago. Better yet, see if the local fixed base operator has space in a heated hangar for rent, or can put your aircraft in the heated hangar the night before you fly. You will never regret installing that engine preheater next summer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Pete Schoeninger is an aviation consultant and aircraft appraiser who lives in Wisconsin. He is an experienced fixed base operator, aircraft salesman and airport manager. Email your questions about all things aviation to: Pete.Harriet@gmail.com. For assistance with aircraft appraisals or fixed base operator and airport management consultation, call 262-533-3056. Any answers provided in this column are the opinion of the author and not necessarily this publication, or its editor, publisher, owners and affiliates.