Tom Haines

Time to be greedy?

October 23, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

Economy’s in the Dumpster. Credit is tight. Fuel is expensive. Geez. Lousy time to buy an airplane, right? Maybe not. As Warren Buffet says, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Well, guess what. Others are fearful, so now is the time to be greedy.

If you’ve got the cash or access to credit, now might be a fine time to buy an airplane. Hull values are down because of all the airplanes on the market (meaning you have a big selection). Insurance rates are trending down. Fuel prices remain high, but they will probably trend downward soon–avgas always lags gasoline on the way back down just as it lagged gasoline on the way up (although it may not have felt that way). Plus, if you buy before the end of the year and use the airplane mostly for business, you can benefit from several tax incentives currently available.

I’ll be exploring this subject and providing some buying tips at AOPA Expo in my seminar, “Buying Your First Airplane,” which occurs at 3 p.m. Friday, November 7, in San Jose.

In the meantime, what do you think? Is this the buying season for airplanes? Time for you to be “greedy” and take advantage of the down market or time to sell? Let me know your thoughts.


9 Responses to “Time to be greedy?”

  1. Nick Selby Says:

    What a timely post for me. I totally agree with you – in fact, we just started pricing out purchase options and things look better than they have for a long time or buyers. I’m definitely happy that the tax incentives you mention are there – they’ve actually allowed me to consider much more airplane than I had originally set out to buy. The other interesting metric out there is in this month’s AOPA Pilot, which mentions that the real cost of flying has stayed static for some time. I do worry about Avgas availability in the coming years, but I think that the risk is mitigated – aww, heck, forget the justifications… the opportunities may be just too great to pass up.

  2. Starr A. Wilson Says:

    If a car nowadays sells for, say, $65,000 and an airplane sells for $150,000, why should I pay more for an air/car? It’s a car with wings, right? As a consumer and hopeful pilot, I would want to know what the engine is like, is it airplane or car or a combination, what the gas mileage is both airborne and land. Heck, I’d even want extra features such as water landing gear. How do the wings fold in? Will the vehicle be hazardous in traffic due to the wings sticking out? How does it function in cold weather/ hot weather? Sure, the prices are going down because gas is expensive. Moreover, you have to watch the fuel to make sure it’s not contamined, both air and land, especially at the air field. But there’s just not enough information or testing done to insure my confidence in an air/car. I’m sure you could take one of those Mercedes Benz petite box cars they’re now selling for over $32,000 which barely fit one person and a grocery bag that can park in really small places, put wings on it and see if it flies, too. It’s not that I don’t like the idea. I think it’s a great idea but one that still doesn’t have all the kinks taken out of it. How do you explain to a cop who pulls you over what you’re driving? And can you only take off from an airplane strip or can you take off from your local traffic intersection or freeway? I mean seriously this could be a real fun aircraft auto but it would sure wreck havoc with the local air and ground transportation rules for take offs and landings! Can you imagine your 16-year-old saying, hey mom, dad, I want one of those! It would take flying to a whole new level.

  3. Dan McGaw Says:

    Probably not. As with prior attempts I’d be concerned that I would end up with both a car and a plane that did not meet my expections.

  4. James McCausland Says:

    Depending upon engine(s) and how it is equipped, I would certainly consider purchasing one after all the kinks are worked out and approvals are received.

  5. David Dow Says:

    I think you’re correct. There are some deals out there. Now is a good time to buy, if you know what you want, understand the market and don’t over commit yourself (financially & otherwise).

  6. Greg Noonan Says:

    Hi Tom,

    Having spent the last 14 years as publisher of an automotive magazine and you know my background in aviation; I am more than skeptical. I think there’s a very small market for the air car but it will never loose its novelty. I remember doing my training in Ft. Lauderdale back in 1991 and being 2nd on final after the Aero car. Even seeing it, and later walking around it parked near American Flyers, it puzzled me how it could fly. Ever since Moulton B. Taylor invented the Aero car in 1949 people have been trying to replicate it.

    My skepticism resides in the reason only hundreds of thousands pursue their pilot license vs. the millions who get their drivers license. Seeing the troubles that auto retailing is facing over the next 24 – 36 months with MPG and price being the drivers on purchase I think the question to be posed is actually; will current pilots who own or are considering the purchase of an aircraft buy a $150,000 aircraft with modest performance. I say no! They can probably sell a hundred or so but never to the degree that would be profitable. As long as cars drive on highways and planes only land at airports the two will forever be separate vehicles.

    The Lotus Elise has promise to fly but the market for the sale of the car is even more limited then the sale of the car itself. I would not want to try and fly cross country in a 2 seat roadster with wings when, for the same money, I can drive to my airport and fly a Mooney. I will be happy to be there for the test flight and will cover it in Dealer magazine when that vehicle is produced and flies; so contact me in enough time to the airport , or should I say highway?

    Always great to read what you say and sorry I can’t get to California.


  7. William Smeaton Says:

    They can’t be serious. All you have to do is to look at how far aft of the CG the rear wheels are placed to know the “car” will have to be going about 250 knots before there is enough elevator power to rotate to fly. It’s sometimes hard to tell the optomists from the frauds in this sort of endevor but sometimes careful scrutiny of the details make that choice easier. The press releases on ths machine claim it will be licensed in the Light Sport category. Really? Some of the press releases also claim that no pilot’s license will be required for this vehicle. Is that because it won’t fly or because the promoters don’t know the difference between Ultra Light and LIght Sport? Would you buy a used car from these guys?

  8. Kenry Says:

    Great post, thanks for the info

  9. Richard A. Strong Says:

    William Smeaton: Please go to to read the engineering calculations for rotation and take-off. I’m reminded of how, way back when, I spoke with Molt Taylor at an EAA convention where I displayed a model. He questioned the rotation and I replied, “It’s a simple summation of moments problem.” He laughed and replied, “Well, you must be an engineer.” I had recently graduated from UMich, under the tutelage of Ed Lesher.

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