Ask Pete!

by Pete Schoeninger

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Q: What trends do you see in the used airplane market?

A: The demand for older (pre 1970) airplanes and most, but not all, twins continues to be soft. Late (last 15 years or so) model aircraft seem to have a stronger demand than older ones, as the price for new airplanes is hard to justify for many buyers. (Example: While a new Cessna 172 is over $400,000, a 10-year-old Cessna 172 with nearly identical performance can be had with a new engine and new paint for less than half that cost.)

Q: I am thinking of spending about $25,000 on an airplane and am considering either a Cessna 152 or a Cherokee 140. What’s your recommendation?

A: Unless your only purpose is training, I would almost always lean toward the Cherokee 140 or a Cessna 172. The 152 is in more demand than other airplanes because of demand from flight schools, both in the USA and abroad. The Cherokee 140 and Cessna 172 will carry more, go further, go faster, have lots more interior room, and operating expenses are not much more than a two-seater. Before buying, be sure to have a good inspection done by a reputable mechanic, and do a title search to ensure the seller can hand you clear title.

Q: My car is fuel-injected and it always starts instantly with no input except turning the key! It seems like I need three hands to start my airplane engine when it is hot. Why are some fuel-injected engines hard to start?

A: One of many reasons your car starts easier than your airplane is your airplane engine spark plug gap is about .018 inches. Some modern cars have spark plug gaps three times as large with perhaps three times as much voltage, resulting in a hotter and bigger spark, which makes starting easier. In addition, cars have more modern electronic and computer-controlled mixture and ignition systems, and airplane engines use much older technology, which makes starting harder.

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