Ask Pete!

by Pete Schoeninger
Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2018 issue

Q:  You warned a friend to hang onto paperwork indicating he paid sales tax when he bought his airplane, forever!  Why?

A: If your friend ever moves to a different state, he will probably have to apply for registration in that state. That new state may demand sales tax be paid as well, UNLESS he can show proof that he paid tax previously in another state.  Almost all states now tax airplane purchases, and almost every state has slightly different laws.

Q:  You said in your aircraft appraisal business, you have seen recent price increases in almost all Cessna 172s. Why?

A:  Without much argument, the 172 is probably the most popular of all general aviation airplanes. In the last 4 years, there have only been about 400 new aircraft sold and they are approaching $400,000 in list price. The prices of anything used, depend on supply and demand. If the overall supply of 172s is decreasing yearly, due to exports, accidents, and dismantling for parts, and demand continues steady, prices will, and are, increasing. Right now, the biggest jump is in the 1997 – 2007 models – up almost $10,000 this year!

Q:  I recently saw some videos of short take-off contests at Valdez, Alaska, an annual event that draws a good crowd. Is there anything like that this summer in the Upper Midwest?

A:  Yes, at New Holstein, Wisconsin, July 22, 2018 at the gathering of Super Cub owners (see Also see Yasmina Platt’s “Destinations” article on flying in Alaska elsewhere in this issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine.

Q: I read that you can now buy a CD from the FAA with information about any airplane. What is the timeframe, cost, etc.?

A: Do an internet search for FAA CD. There you can select to receive either a CD or printed report. The cost is $10.00 for a CD. I have only ordered CDs, which take from one to two weeks to receive after you place your order. (They accept credit cards.) I think owners of older airplanes would find this information well worth the money, if only to see where their airplane has been all its life, found in the Registration section. Information is divided into Airworthiness and Registration. Airworthiness shows paperwork like form 337 repair and alteration forms, STCs applied to the airplane, avionics upgrades, etc. Registration shows registered owners, liens, etc. I would add one caution, however. I would NOT rely solely on this information to determine clear title or for a possible purchase. For that I recommend an aviation title company or aviation attorney.

Q:  An “Old Boy” told me to be wary of “downwind turns” and that the airplane was much more likely to stall when traveling downwind than upwind. True or false?

A:  False! But there is something to be learned here. When you are flying at a relatively low altitude downwind, the ground will pass beneath you much faster than if you are flying upwind. So, the illusion might be that you are going through the air (relative wind) faster than you are. So, a stall at low altitude traveling downwind (DON’T TRY IT!!) might be unexpected if you are only looking at the ground passing by to determine your speed.

Q: I recently got my private pilot certificate and am looking at a 1975 Cessna 182 for possible purchase. I will use the airplane for personal transportation, including flying on some smaller grass runways. My buddy says I absolutely should get a Cessna 180 instead because they are better for grass runways, and a bit faster in cruise. Is this true? I have no tailwheel time.

A:  My two cents worth is to stick to the 182 for several reasons: 1) Cessna 182s are flown out of grass strips on a daily basis all over the world. Get a good check out in the airplane and remember to keep as much weight off the nose wheel as possible and you will do OK. 2) Cessna 180s, being tail draggers, can be a real handful on a paved runway with a good gusty crosswind, which the 182 handles much easier. 3) A Cessna 182 fuselage is a little wider than the fuselage of a Cessna 180, thus 182s are more comfortable. 4) Insurance rates for a low-time pilot with no tailwheel experience will probably be higher for a 180 than a 182. 5) Cessna sold 819 model 182s and about 119 model 180s in 1975. Today there are currently 416 1975 C182s and 62 C180s on the federal registry. Thus, there will be a greater variety of 182s available on the used market. 6) At least some 180s lead a very tough life as “aerial pickup trucks,” whereas 182s usually do not lead such an adventurous life. And I always preach, BE SURE to have a mechanic familiar with your prospective make and model check the airplane over. Also, BE SURE to have a title search done before you open your wallet. But to respond to your buddy, yes, the 180s are a bit faster because of a skinnier fuselage and no nose gear up front to create drag. And for very rough off-field flying, a 180 with big tires is preferred over a 182.    

Q: I saw an airplane that looked like an Ercoupe (or Alon), but with what looked like a Mooney tail on it? It did have a U.S. registration number, but I did not remember to write it down, so I cannot look up the make/model. What was it?

A: A Mooney M-10 Cadet. About 60 were made in Kerrville, Texas. I flew a new one from Kerrville to St Louis and I recall it was quite similar to the Alon in speed, etc. A few are still around.

Q:  You cautioned a friend of mine not to rush to buy a 1960 Piper Comanche for $43,000. That airplane will run circles around a Skyhawk or Cherokee for the same price. Why not go for the Comanche?

A:  Yes, the Comanche is a good airplane…pretty quick too. But, like all older complex aircraft, they have some maintenance quirks, and I highly recommend taking the aircraft to a mechanic with extensive Comanche experience for routine maintenance and inspections. Such experienced mechanics cannot be found in every shop. If serious maintenance is needed, it can get very expensive very quickly. My suggestion for most folks would be to stick with the more popular Cherokee or Skyhawk, if you are looking to spend in the range of $40,000.

Q: I see a few mid 1960 Beech Musketeer A23s reasonably priced, around $20K. Isn’t that a bargain…a four-seat metal airplane for $20K?

A:  The Beech Musketeer A23 have the Continental I0-346 engine, which has been out of production for 50 years. If you like “little” Beech products, I would suggest pulling another $10,000 to $15,000 out of your pocket and look at a Beech Sundowner, which is about 10 years newer, and have a 180 hp Lycoming engine. They are roomy, have good visibility, and are relatively slow. Demand is not strong for them. And remember, an inspection by a mechanic knowledgeable on a particular make and model, and a title search, is a very good idea!

Q:  I have seen old photos of several Piper Cubs stacked in a hangar on their nose, allowing lots of Cubs to be hangared in a relatively small area. Two questions: 1) Why aren’t there any pictures of a stack of Cubs outside, and 2) How do you get them up and down?

A:  I have never seen a stack of Cubs outside either, probably because a wind of any significance would blow them over. That is why they are only stacked inside hangars. To stack, or unstack, is a two-person process. One person cannot do it. To start, one person lifts the tail high, until the airplane is about balanced on the main gear, while it is also being held by the prop by the other person. Then the first person has to go forward to the prop, and then both people push down on the prop, lowering the nose to a small wooden stand that keeps the front of the airplane a couple of inches off the ground. To lower the airplane, both handlers raise the nose by the prop until it is very light, then one person holds the prop and the other person goes to the tail of the airplane, reaches up, and grabs the tail and lowers it gently to the ground.

Q:  I thought all Piper Archers had the tapered wing, as do all Warriors. A friend has bet me a steak dinner that some Archers had a Cherokee-like square wing. Who wins?

A: You lose. In 1973, Piper enlarged the cabin of the Cherokee 180, and extended the wing, but did not taper it, increased the tail size, and called it a Challenger. In 1974 and 1975, Piper called this airplane the Archer. From 1976, through today, the Archer has a tapered wing.

Q:  I moved from Missouri to Michigan and I am happy with our local FBO. My 1982 Piper Saratoga is approaching annual time. The shop foreman told me his first annual inspection of an airplane will take longer, and thus cost more, than an inspection a year later. Why?

A: Federal officials will tell you all inspections should be as thorough as possible. In the real world, when a mechanic has never seen a 35-year-old airplane before, he will want to check it out very closely, do an Airworthiness Summary check, etc., before signing off on an annual inspection. If the airplane is based on his field, and he does minor routine maintenance over the next year, and sees that you do not abuse the airplane, the second annual inspection should not take as long, and thus, should not cost as much as the first annual inspection. I do know of one Skyhawk owner who bought an airplane on the cheap and took it to his mechanic for an annual inspection, which cost $8,000 to fix all the squawks. The new owner was irate and left in a fit of anger and promised to never return to that shop. Had he returned, the next annual inspection would have been about $1,500.

Q:  I am a CFI selling my old Cessna 175. A young man and his girlfriend with only Piper experience are coming out for a demo ride tomorrow. You said DO NOT let the prospective buyer land the airplane. Why not?

A:  If you let the prospect land your Cessna Skylark, and he makes a rough landing, to save face he can tell his date that “These airplanes are hard to land.” So, maybe he saves face with his girlfriend, but at your expense of losing a possible airplane sale. I have found that it is always best to tell prospects just before a demo ride, “This ride is to show you how the airplane flies, how avionics work, etc. It is NOT dual instruction, so I (Pete the Salesman) will do most of the flying.” If they squawk at that, they are probably not serious buyers, just serious free riders.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pete Schoeninger appraises airplanes for estates, divorces, and partnership buyouts. He is a 40-year general aviation veteran, starting out as a line technician as a teenager, advancing through the ranks to become the co-owner and manager of a fixed base operation, and manager of an airport in a major metropolitan community. For aircraft appraisals, contact Pete at or call 262-533-3056 (

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this column is the expressed opinion of the author only, and readers are advised to seek the advice of others, and refer to aircraft owner manuals, manufacturer recommendations, the Federal Aviation Regulations, FAA Aeronautical Information Manual and instructional materials for guidance on aeronautical matters.

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