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The list of the 8 best reasons to buy a private plane follow the article below


Charley Brindley


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A U.S. Navy 1934 biplane with meteorograph on starboard wing strut

A U.S. Navy 1934 biplane with meteorograph on starboard wing strut

1934 price: $17,000 ($277,074.63 in 2009 dollars)

Photo credit: Commons Wikimedia

How much does it cost to buy a private plane?

If you aren't very particular, and don't need much of a plane, you can buy an old used but still flyable Cessna 152 for as low as $10k. Although if you want something safe, you'll probably spend more like 15k to 20k.

If you want to be able to actually go places & take people with you, you'll need something along the lines of a Cessna 172. Which goes used for between 30k and 50k.

A newish 172 or 182 with modern glass cockpit & all goes for over 80 to 100k

One of the more popular 4-seaters right now is the Cirrus SR-22, it's all carbon composite & modern, I understand it goes for about $250k

And if you want a new Beechcraft Bonanza, Cadillac of the sky, you'll speend around 700k

And that's just the singles.

At the other end of the spectrum, larger jets, such as the Gulfstream, can go for 40 million... And you could spend over 100 million for a decked-out BBJ (Boeing Business Jet)

And don't forget maintenence, for every $100 you spend flying it, count on spending another $50 fixing it/licensing it/insuring it.

The old adage is true... If it rolls, floats, or flies, its cheaper to rent than it is to buy.

Story credit: Wiki Answers

Gulfstream G550 Aircraft

Gulfstream G550 Aircraft

Price: $60,000,000

Photo credit: Gulfstream Aircraft Sales

The 8 principal reasons why you should buy a private plane

                                                  1. Flying for pleasure

                                                  2. Flying for business trips

                                                  3. Using a plane for crop-dusting

                                                  4. Aerial photography

                                                 5. Adventure, becoming a bush pilot

                                                  6. Skywriting

                                                  7. Airplane aerobatics

                                                  8. Aircraft racing

Cessna 150 aircraft ready for takeoff

Cessna 150 aircraft ready for takeoff

Price: $12,000

Photo credit: First Flights

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1. Flying for pleasure

It is a little under a century since mans yearning for powered flight was realised at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, when Orville Wright managed to steer a timber and fabric craft named the 'Flyer', which was powered by a four cylinder internal combustion engine, for 120 feet.

From that day, the world of aviation has never looked back.

Piloting aircraft was, for many years, the reserve of the rich, or, of course, on many occasions during the last century, the brave.

In the latter half of the 20th century, popular pleasure flying became more affordable and available to people with more modest means.

This led to the development of flying schools at most airfields and, following the end of the war, there were many pilots available to become willing instructors. These people were capable pilots, but were perhaps not best equipped with the teaching skills required.

At that time however, flying was more relaxed than it is now, with far fewer airspace restrictions, and very little use for radio communications, thus making the basic requirement the safe handling of the machine.

Nowadays, the airspace is very restricted, and radio communications are a must. Runways are fixed, and take off/landings are no longer the simple in to wind affair of the past.

These constraints have led to a steady increase in the multi-skills needed for modern day pilots, which, in turn, have led to the necessity for highly trained instructors who can not only fly, but can also teach the complex skills required for safe and enjoyable flying.

The first trial lesson

So reader, if you have got this far, you are perhaps interested in at least experiencing the reality of flight in a light aircraft?

The easiest way to do this is to book a trial lesson at a local airfield. There are three within 30 minutes drive from this village, Panshanger, Elstree and Stapleford.

Its best to select calm weather conditions, although in any case an instructor will not take a novice up in poor conditions.

You are of course wondering what will happen. Well, you arrive at the airfield and report to the reception. Then you will be introduced to your instructor who will take you to the aircraft and give you a brief explanation of how the aircraft flies while he carries out his safety checks.

Then it is time to board. You will be surprised at how small the cabin is and how intimate flying is as you will be shoulder to shoulder with your instructor.

You will be given a headset to wear. This will allow you to communicate with the pilot over the noise of the engine.

Training and what it takes

I am not going to spoil it by telling you what happens next. You are strapped in to the seat and the fantastic world of flying is about to be revealed, enjoy and savour your first flight.

Your instructor will love flying, he will not be teaching for the financial rewards. The interest you show will determine the information you are given. Just keep a bit quiet when he is taking off and landing. Somehow I think you will be too entranced to speak.

There are no real medical restrictions to private flying other than good eyesight, with spectacles if needed, and normal health. It is a requirement that you pass a medical examination, carried out by an aviation doctor, before solo flight is allowed. If you wish to undertake a course, then the medical examination should be carried out by arrangement after your trial flight and before a full course is booked and paid for.

Flight training consists of a structured course of airborne instruction plus ground school with examinations. The examinations are not difficult and if you really want to become a pilot you will thoroughly enjoy the home or class study involved.

This is the first of a series of features that will follow on from your trial lesson and give an insight to the licences available and the progress needed to achieve them.

The writer hopes this resume has been both interesting and informative and that this, along with future articles, will encourage participation in the most complex, but rewarding activity in the world.

Story credit: Brookmans Park Newsletter

Inside a Piaggio P180 Avanti II Twin-Engine Turboprop Business Aircraft

Inside a Piaggio P180 Avanti II Twin-Engine Turboprop Business Aircraft

Price: $22,000,000

Photo credit: Aerospace Technology

2. Flying for business trips

Practicality and costs of flying oneself instead of airline travel

As a consultant, I find myself flying to other U.S. cities 2-4 times per month. The airline and airport experience is often unpleasant. I've always been interested in learning to fly as a recreational activity (though I just took a helicopter lesson and found that even more exciting).

I understand airline travel is cheaper than renting/owning a Cessna, but not clear on how much extra I should expect to spend if I learned to fly myself to my client sites. I'm interested in hearing from others who've attempted to adopt this lifestyle.

-- Michael James


If you have medium distances to travel (300-600 miles?), are going between city pairs not served by scheduled airlines, and are interested in pushing yourself through to an instrument rating, personal flying can be practical. A modestly capable airplane costs about $200/hour to operate (if flown regularly and/or shared with others) and goes almost 200 mph, so budget a bit over $1/mile as a minimum.

-- Philip Greenspun

There's an old saying about private aircraft flying: "When you've got time to spare, go by air."

-- Mark Dalton

If general aviation is not a practical way of taking business trips, maybe I should pursue purely recreational flying (helicopters, ultralights, paragliding) then?

-- Michael James

My earlier response was a feeble attempt at humor, albeit a statement that at times will prove accurate. If you fly yourself, be prepared for time-consuming pre-flights (unless you've done it the night before), flight planning, flight plan filing, car rentals, etc. It's not nearly as easy as it would seem. That said, it sometimes is still a much easier way that flying with the masses. Example: I have a trip to take to the Virginia Beach area. The drive would normally be three plus hours from my home. The flight in my heli will take a little over an hour. Then take into account that I wish to return the same day and it is very worthwhile to fly privately rather than drive or fly commercial. If I may suggest, if all you want to do is obtain a fixed-wing (airplane) private pilot license and fly relatively short day-trips, you should consider simply renting a plane. MUCH cheaper, although you'll have to make sure that your local airport/FBO will rent them to you and also what the charges will be for overnight times that keep the plane somewhere other that it's home-based FBO, etc. If you only need to do day trips and your jaunts are through areas with congested traffic, a plane may truly be the way to go. Best wishes.

-- Mark Dalton

Boy I could write a book on this topic. I have a TB-20 (Single engine, piston-driven, Socata TB20 Trinidad aircraft) that I fly for business trips. One thing you should do is clock your door to door time for you clients on existing trips. This tends to be an eye opener. If you live near a major airport and your clients are in metro centers served by direct flights the airlines are going to be faster and cheaper. The big question is how flexible are you in your visits and your personal life. A plane is great but you need to be flexible. I have found by keeping an eye on the weather and some nip and tuck I can often bend things to suit. On the other side it is a pain to have to run home for personal reasons and this can place a lot of pressure on you. The best range for a General Aviation plane is 200-500 miles. 200 miles or less and you are at 3-4 hours driving. As the combo of flight planning, getting to the airport, (30 minutes) and getting the plane out takes 1.5 hours you are 90 miles in the hole when you take off. I live in central NJ and often go to Providence RI. With the plane I can round trip this in an easy day. Driving is 3-4 hours without traffic so I could do it RT by road in a day. It really wears you out and I-95 at night when you are tired is risk wise a dangerous place. My other trip is NJ to Birmingham AL, 720 nm. If all the ducks line up I can fly this in 5-6 hours but the end of it tires you about the same as commercial flying. I used to this as a two day trip via the airlines but via my plane it is always a three day trip. A better trip, a lot more fun, but always longer and more expensive. Monday at 1600 I got a call, can you be in Mobile AL for a meeting tomorrow at 1100. I have done this a lot I should have known better than to even try that as a 1 day RT. Quick round of calls etc the only option was a 0650 flight from Newark. Get to Mobile at 1130. Attend meeting and am back at airport for a 1700 flight to get me home at 2230. As The usual summer WX and I get home at 0230 Wednesday. I�m completely wasted and despite what people claim you get very little done in airports and even less in seat 37C of a B 757. My Wednesday was totally shot and I ended up sleeping all day. If I had flown myself, the plane was in the shop, I would have left Monday, flown to Roanoke , got to Mobile Tuesday for the meeting. Started home Tuesday and got home after lunch Wednesday. I would have liked it but as I really cannot recover the full cost of the plane from my client it would have cost me. It is a big commitment learning to fly. Keeping yourself and a plane current is a lot of work. But it means dealing with people at FBO�s who treat you as a customer and you get to see and do things few others can. You do get a lot more control of your time. With the airlines they own you and you are just a widget in a hopper full of widgets. Good luck with it. It makes no real sense but is great fun.

-- Dennis O'Meara

Thanks for the detailed responses. It sounds like this wouldn't be even remotely practical in my case since so much of my travel is between larger cities, and often coast to coast. For example, right now I'm at home in downtown Seattle unwinding from an airline flight back from DC. There were thunderstorms on both ends of the trip. As a semi-retirement lifestyle I can imagine moving near a GA airport, so at least I could cut out the 30 minute commute.

-- Michael James

For me, commercial travel is very frustrating. Long security lines, frequent delays. I think pre-9/11, the argument for flying your own plane was weaker, but these days it seems more viable. Yesterday I flew commercially from Ohio to Wisconsin. It's the typical story -- long demeaning lines (I had to surrender my toothpaste, and I left a water bottle in my bag, which led to a "security check"), my flight was delayed an hour, etc. The trip was about 6 hours. In my own plane it would have been from 2-4 hours (depending on the aircraft), and I could have carried all the nail clippers and tooth paste I want.

-- Max Rahder

Last night I was stranded in Edmonton, AB because I arrived at 4:45PM instead of 4:40PM. I already felt bad leaving my client at 4PM to catch the damn plane, the only option until 6AM the next day. I recently read about private planes (including jets) that fly back empty, and online services for booking them. I don't have a firm picture of the costs involved though.

Incidentally, my third helicopter lesson was supposed to be today but rescheduled due to weather. Learning to fly a helicopter is very exciting and I recommend it to everyone.

-- Michael James

Story credit: Philip Greenspun

Air Tractor AT-502B Crop Duster

Air Tractor AT-502B Crop Duster

Price: $800,000

Photo credit: Flickr

3. Using a plane for crop-dusting

An agricultural aircraft is an aircraft that has been built or converted for agricultural use - usually aerial application of pesticides (crop dusting) or fertiliser (aerial topdressing); in these roles they are referred to as "crop dusters" or "top dressers". Agricultural aircraft are also used for hydroseeding.

The most common agricultural aircraft are fixed-wing, such as the Air Tractor, Grumman Ag Cat, PAC Fletcher, or Rockwell Thrush Commander, but helicopters are also used.

Early use of aircraft in agriculture

Crop dusting with insecticides began in the 1920s in the United States. The first widely used agricultural aircraft were converted war-surplus biplanes, such as the De Havilland Tiger Moth and Stearman. After more effective insecticides and fungicides were developed in the 1940s, and aerial topdressing was developed by government research in New Zealand, purpose-built agricultural fixed-wing aircraft became common.

Agricultural aircraft designs

In the US and Europe they are typically small, simple, and rugged. Many have spraying systems built into their wings, and pumps are usually driven by wind turbines. In places where farms are larger, such as New Zealand, Australia, the former Warsaw pact nations and parts of the developing world, larger and more powerful aircraft have been used, including turboprop powered aircraft such as the PAC Cresco, twin engined types, such as the Lockheed Lodestar and varying from the versatile and utilitarian Antonov An-2 biplane to the bizarre turbofan powered biplane, the WSK-Mielec M-15 Belphegor- all however tend to be of simple rugged STOL design. In places where dedicated use as an agricultural aircraft is uneconomic, utility types such as the De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver have been used.

In the case of helicopters, tanks are placed on or outside the body of the aircraft, while a spray rig, extending outward to the sides, is attached well below the main rotor blades. Hydroseeding is often done by helicopters using tanks and drop systems much like those used for aerial firefighting.

Conflicting views on aerial spraying

Australian Commonwealth CA-28 Ceres crop spraying aircraft of the 1950sAerial spraying has been controversial since the 1960s, as a result of environmental concerns about pesticide drift (raised for example by Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring). It is now often subject to restrictions, for example spraying pesticide is generally banned in Sweden, although exceptions can be made such as for an area plagued by mosquitos during summer. Even the spread of fertilizer has raised concerns, for example in New Zealand fertilizer entering streams has been found to disproportionately promoted growth of species more able to exploit the increased nutrients, so leading to restrictions on topdressing near waterways. Even putting out forest fires has been criticized in the U.S.A. as preventing natural consumption of flammable material, and increasing long term risk.

Story credit: Wikipedia

Microdrone Quad Copter UAV

Microdrone Quad Copter UAV

Price: $54,000

Photo credit: Skylens Aerial Photography

4. Aerial photography

Chronological History of Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing

Important dates in the chronological history of photography, aerial photographic interpretation, and remote sensing:

Circa 300 BCE - Greece, Aristotle philosophizing at some length about the nature of light, envisions light as a quality and not as an actual substance; as it was thought of by many at the time. He observed that some objects have the potential for transpa rency but this state is only rendered actual by the presence of light. He then defined light as the act of, or energy of, a transparent body as such.

10th Century - Al Hazan of Basra credited with the explanation of the principle of the camera obscura.

1666 - Sir Isaac Newton, while experimenting with a prism, found that he could disperse light into a spectrum of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Utilizing a second prism, he found that he could recombine the colors into white light.

1802 - Thomas Young puts forth the basic concepts of the Young-Von Helmholtz theory of color vision: Three separate sets of cones in the retina of the eye, one attuned to red, one to blue, and one to green.

1827 - Joseph Nicephore Niepce takes the first picture of nature. (Exposure time was 8 hours, emulsion was bitumen of Jedea.)

1829 - Joseph Nicephore Niepce and Louis M. Daguere signed their partnership agreement (Nicephore Niepce had been working on Heliography, or sun drawing; Daguerre on dioramas, which he constructed with the aid of a camera obscura.)

1839 - Daguerre announces the invention of Daguerrotype (Niepce had died). Daguerre had discovered that mercury vapors could bring out an image on a silver plate and that sodicum thiosulfate ("hypo") could fix the image and make it permanent.

1939 - William Henry Fox Talbot describes a system of imaging on silver chloride paper using a fixative solution of sodium chloride. Talbot later found that the latent image could be developed in a solution of gallic acid, and he was teh first person to employ a negative/positive process "Calotype" laying the groundwork for modern photography.

1830s - Invention of the stereoscope by the Germans. The device was used during the Victorian era for amusement.

1855 - Scottish physicist James Clark Maxwell, postulates the color additive theory for the production of color photographs.

1858 - First known aerial photograph is taken from a captive balloon from an altitude of 1,200 feet over Paris by Gaspar Felix Tournachon Nadar.

1861 - With the help of photographer Thomas Sutton, Maxwell demonstrates his techniques using a bow of multicolored ribbon. (Red filter - sulfo-cyanice of iron, blue filter - ammoniacal sulfate of copper, green filter - copper chloride, a fourth filter of lemon-colored glass was also used.)

1860s - Use of aerial observations from captive balloons in American War. Balloons used to map forest in 1862 not aerial photo though.

1870s - Pictures taken from greater heights, 33,000-34,000 feet, from free balloons.

1873 - Herman Vogel found that by soaking silver halide emulsions (which are naturally sensitive to only blue light) in various dyes, he could extend their sensitivity to longer and longer wavelengths, paving the way for photography in the near infrared.

1879 - S.P. Langley begins work to find a superior radiation detector.

1887 - Germans began experiments with photography for forestry.

1899 - George Eastman produced a nitrocellulose-based film which retained the clarity of the glass plates which had been used to that time.

1903 - Julius Neubronne patents breast mounted camera for pigeons.

1906 - Albert Maul takes first aerial photograph using a rocket propelled by compressed air which rose to a height of 2,600 feet and took pictures and then parachuted the camera back to earth.

1906 - G.R. Lawrence who had been experimenting with cameras for some time (some of which weighed more than 1,000 lbs.) which were hoisted into the air with the aid of balloon-kites and associated controls, takes pictures of San Francisco earthquake and f ire damage from an altitude of some 600 meters. Many people have thought that these photos were taken from airplanes. Lawrence's camera alone weighed more than the Wright Brothers plane and its pilot combined.

1909 - Wilbur Wright takes first aerial photograph from an airplane of Centrocelli, Italy. WWI produced a boost in the use of aerial photography, but after the war, enthusiasm wanted.

1914 - Lt. Lawes, British Flying Service, first takes airplane over enemy territory.

1915 - Cameras especially built for aerial use are being produced. Lt. Col. J.T.C. More Brabazon designed and produced the first practical aerial camera in collaboration with Thornton Pickard Ltd.

1918 - By this time in WWI, French aerial units were developing and printing as many as 10,000 photographs each night, during periods of intense activity. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, 56,000 prints of aerial photograpy were made and delivered to A merican Expeditionary Forces in four days.

1914-1919 - WWI produces boost in the use of aerial photography, but after war interest wanes.

1919 - Canadian Forestry Mapping Program begins.

1919 - Hoffman first to sense from an aircraft in thermal IR. First books: Lee 1922; Joerg 1923 (urban); Platt & Johnson 1927 (archaeology).

1924 - Mannes and Godousky patent the first of their work on multi-layer film which led to the marketing of Kodachrome in 1935.

1931 - Stevens development of an IR sensitive film (B&W).

1934 - American Society of Photogrammetry founded. Photogrammetric Engineering is first published. This journal of the American Society of Photogrammetry was later renamed Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing. The Society is now named the Ame rican Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

1936 - Captain Albert W. Stevens takes the first photograph of the actual curvature of the earth - taken from a free balloon at an altitude of 72,000 feet.

1920s-1930s - Interest in the peaceful uses of aerial photography increases (ISDA, USAF, TVA). WWII brought about more sophisticated techniques in API.

1941-1945 - WWII brings about the development of more sophisticated techniques in aerial photographic interpretation (API). American, British and Germans all produce promising TIR devices.

1942 - Kodak patents first false color IR sensitive film.

1946 - First space photographs from V-2 rockets.

1950s - Advances in sensor technology move into multi-spectral range.

1954 - Westinghouse develops first side-looking airborne radar system.

1954 - U-2 takes first flight.

1956 - Lu Meuser makes first TIR motion picture employing an AN/AAS-4, a devise for air to ground strip mapping ("...features and vehicles move like an old keystone cops movie.")

1960 - U-2 is "shot down" over Sverdlovsk, USSR.

1960 - TIROS 1 launched as first meteorological satellite.

1960s - U.S. begins collection of intelligence photography from Earth orbiting satellites, CORONA and KH programs.

1962 - Zaitor and Tsuprun construct prototype nine lens multispectral camera permitting nine different film-filter combinations. ITEK employs camera to explore the potential value of multispectral photography.

1964 - SR-71 shown to the press in the Presidential campaign between Goldwater and LBJ.

Late 1960s - Gemini and Apollo Space photography.

1968 - Hemphill describes first use of laser for airborne sensing.

1972 - Launch of the first Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1). This system is later renamed Landsat-1. ERTS carries a return beam vidicon (RBV) and a multispectral scanner (MSS).

1972 - Photography from Sky Lab precursor of manned space station whos first element launch is currently scheduled for 1998.

1975 - Launch of Landsat 2.

1978 - Launch of Landsat 3 (March 5).

1978 - Launch and failure of Seasat. First civil SAR satellite.

1978 - Launch of Nimbus 7 (Coastal Zone Color Scanner).

1978 - Launch of NOAA 6 (aka TIROS-N), first satellite to carry the advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) on board.

1981 - Launch of SIR-A (Space Imaging Radar - A).

1982 - Launch of Landsat 4 (Thematic Mapper and MSS).

1984 - Launch of SIR-B.

1984 - Launch of Landsat 5.

1985 - Landsat Commercial contract awarded to EOSAT. Vendor takes over operation of the satellites and rights to Landsat data.

1986 - Launch of SPOT-1, French Earth Resources Satellite (Systeme Probatoire de la Observation de la Terre.

1988 - Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) launched.

1990 - Launch of SPOT-2.

1991 - Launch of ERS-1, European Radar Satellite, primarily designed for oceanographic applications.

1991 - Second Indian Remote Sensing Satellite launched.

1992 - JERS, Japanese Earth Resources Satellite launched with L-band radar and visible and infrared radiance/reflectance recording devices on-board.

1992 - Land Remote Sensing Act of 1992 brings Landsat back under U.S. Government control. EOSAT retains data rights to some Landsat data for up to ten years from acquisition.

1993 - Launch of SIR-C.

1993 - Launch of SPOT-3.

1994 - Landsat 6 fails to achieve orbit.

1995 - Third Indian Remote Sensing Satellite launched.

1995 - Canada launches RADARSAT.

1995 - Early CORONA and KH satellite data are declassified by an Executive Order signed by President Clinton on 23 February. This order authorizes the declassification of intelligence satellite photography acquired in the 1960s.

1995 - Launch of ERS-2.

1995 - First indication that a new class of intelligence satellite is being developed appears in the press. The new satellite code name 8x is said to be a major upgrade of the KH-12 spy satellite. The satellite which may weigh as much as twenty tons wil l be able to acquire "intricately detailed images of an area as large as 1,000 square miles of the Earth's surface...with roughly the same precision as existing satellites," according to an article in the September 28 Los Angeles Times. The Time article goes on to say that the current generation of photographic satellites photograph areas about 10 miles by 10 miles (100 square miles) typically showing details as small as six inches.

Story credit: Department of Geography University of California

Curtiss Wright C-1 Robin CF-ALZ sitting on skis on the Stewart River near Mayo with a tarp wrapped around the engine compartment

Curtiss Wright C-1 Robin CF-ALZ sitting on skis on the Stewart River near Mayo with a tarp wrapped around the engine compartment

Price: $7,500 in 1938 ($116,170 in 2009 dollars)

Photo credit: Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture

5. Adventure, becoming a bush pilot

It isn't easy to get hired to fly in Alaska for several reasons, primarily insurance. The typical flight times required by the companies that insure commercial operators are typically 2-3 times higher than equivalent positions in the "lower 48". While you can get an air taxi job elsewhere with as little as 500 hours, in Alaska 1,000 to 1,500 hours is a typical minimum requirement. Also, if you don't have at least some "Alaska Time" when you apply, many companies won't even talk to you. It's a Catch 22: you can't get a job without Alaska experience, but you can't get that experience without a job. One company I worked for required 3,000 hours TT, 500 hours in Alaska, and 500 hours in the type of airplanes they flew, and the only reason I was hired is that I knew someone who gave me a good recommendation, and I had been living in Alaska for two years working on a fishing boat in the local area.

That said, some companies will hire lower time pilots fresh from outside Alaska, but it is highly competetive (hundreds of applicants for every job) and the starting pay is usually very poor, plus you still need some sort of "equivalent" experience. It also depends on what type of flying you want to do. Getting a job flying tailwheel airplanes or floatplanes usually requires significantly more experience than "nosedraggers" do. I would recommend several things: 1) move up there if possible and do your flight training there 2) work any job necessary in order to survive 3) buy your own plane and build time in Alaska 4) be persistent. Often times, just being there is the key. Alaska operators are more likely to hire someone who walks in the door than someone who makes phone calls and sends resumes.

Story credit: Yahoo Answers

Skywriting with American flag in foreground

Skywriting with American flag in foreground

Price: $4,500

Photo credit: Crzynusht

6. Skywriting

Any plane that is certified for aerobatics can do skywriting - a plane not certified for aerobatics cannot legally perform the maneuvers necessary to skywrite although that doesnt stop some pilots - although some experimental classification aircraft can do aerobatics they are limited where they can fly and perform so usually arent used for skywriting - some small low power aircraft are used such as the piper super cub and cessna 150/152, older biplanes are commonly used like the boeing stearman and dehavilland tiger moth, modern high performance aerobats like the pitts and extra 300, and even converted cessna 172's have been used.

Story credit: Wiki Answers

Two aerobatic planes flying over Washington DC

Two aerobatic planes flying over Washington DC

Price: $400,000 each

Photo credit: Pitts Aerobatic Planes

7. Airplane aerobatics

Is it a dangerous sport?

By it's very nature, aerobatics involves risks that are not involved in non-aerobatic flight; but, as with other aviation activities, it is only as safe or dangerous as the pilot makes it. Discipline, planning, common sense, and knowledge are the basic prerequisites to safety. Aerobatics can be quite safe if safety rules are followed religiously:

First and foremost, get proper aerobatic and emergency situation training.

The IAC maintains a list of schools offering emergency maneuver and aerobatic training.

Never fly aerobatics in aircraft not approved for aerobatic flight.

Fly at a safe and conservative altitude.

Know your equipment and it's limitations. Keep the aircraft well-maintained.

Know yourself and your own personal limitations (altitude limits, g-limits, flight durations, health, etc.)

Always perform a proper, thorough aerobatic preflight.

Stay current and take recurrence check rides.

Stay clear of conflicting air traffic.

Always leave yourself a way out.

Always wear a parachute. Know how to bail out and how to use it.

Aerobatics is for the sensible pilot who seeks proficiency, precision, and control in their flying skills. Practice produces control. The attitude that guides control is what separates reckless fools from aerobatic artists. Aerobatic pilots understand their machine as well as its limitations and they recognize their own personal capabilities. Control is what everyone, from World Aerobatic Champion competitors to air show heroes, is looking for.

Will I feel sick?

Aerobatics entails forces and visual situations that are new to just about everyone. Each person will respond differently to these. Typically, on your first few flights you may feel queasy after some number of maneuvers. With each flight, your tolerance will build. Don't let the initial discomfort discourage you. The more often you practice, the higher your tolerance will become. As you get used to unusual attitudes in your aircraft, the exhilaration and fun begins to dominate. Loops, rolls, and spins can be habit- forming. Hammerheads, Cuban 8's and snap rolls can be addicting. Gradually, one becomes determined to make the loops a more perfect circle, the rolls more true, and to predetermine the exit points of a spin.

Story credit: International Aerobatic Club

Red Bull Air Race 2008 San Diego California

Red Bull Air Race 2008 San Diego California

Price: $7,500 in 1938 ($116,170 in 2009 dollars)

Photo credit: Flickr

8. Aircraft racing

Classes of airplane racing


The Biplane Class is represented by small, aerobatic aircraft like the Pitts Special, the Mong, and the Smith Miniplane, giving pilots a chance to apply their skills to racing on a 3.18-mile course at speeds exceeding 200 mph.

Formula One

Formula One aircraft are all powered by a Continental O-200 engine (the same 100 hp engine used in a Cessna 150). Weights and sizes of every major engine part must be within stock limits. The cam profile and carburetion are strictly controlled. Race aircraft must have 66 square feet of wing area, weigh at least 500 pounds empty, and have a fixed landing gear and fixed pitch propeller. The fastest Formula One aircraft reach almost 250 mph on the 3.12-mile race course at Reno. Many Formula One aircraft are built by the pilots that race them and are a relatively inexpensive way to enjoy the excitement and satisfaction of air racing.


The Sport Class highlights the new and innovative work being done in the development of high performance kit-built aircraft. Competition in the Class is fierce, with the rapid introduction of race-driven engine and airframe technology. Eligible aircraft include production model kit-built aircraft, of which 5 or more kits have been produced and delivered to customers by the manufacturer, powered by a reciprocating engine of 650 cubic inches or less. All aircraft must have a current FAA issued airworthiness certificate.

Sport Class aircraft race on a 6.37-mile course at speeds reaching nearly 350 mph.


The T-6 Class features match racing between stock aircraft, including the original T-6 "Texan", the Canadian-built "Harvard", and the US Navy "SNJ" version aircraft.

All of the T-6 variants are powered by the Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340-AN-1 air-cooled radial engine, which develops about 600 horsepower, and all have essentially the same airframe.

Originally built by North American Aviation, the 15,495 aircraft that were manufactured over the life of the model served primarily as advanced trainers, helping pilots bridge between basic trainers and front-line tactical aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang.

The fastest T-6 aircraft generally post race speeds into the 220-230 mph range on the 5.06-mile course at Reno. Because the aircraft are all of the same type, the T-6 class provides some of the most exciting racing at Reno, with an emphasis on strategy and pilot skill rather than raw horsepower.


The Jet Class was inaugurated in 2002 as an invitation-only class, featuring match racing with Czech-built Aerovodochody L-39 "Albatros" jets, racing at speeds in the 400+ mph range. In 2004, sponsorship and interest had developed to the point where the Class was opened to participation by any qualified pilot and aircraft.


The Unlimited Class is open to any piston-driven aircraft with an empty weight greater than 4500 pounds [the weight restriction was added in 2005]. Aside from a very few "scratch-built" aircraft, the Unlimited Class has generally been populated by stock or modified WWII fighters, the most-often-flown types including the P-51 Mustang, F-8F Bearcat, and Hawker Sea Fury. Aircraft speeds in the Unlimited Class reach 500 mph.

Story credit: Reno Air Races

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