Another subject that has come up recently was what is the cheapest way to hour build was, so in this post I will explain the options.
So the first option and the most “familiar” will be to rent a plane from the school that you learnt at. Now I am going to say straight away that this is most likely going to be the most expensive option. Flying schools normally have the highest charges and on top of this if the school is busy then the availability will be pretty poor. I think I “built” 4-5 hours at the school I learnt at before I moved on to new (and cheaper) pastures.
The school I trained at wants an eye watering £165 for 1 hour solo hire in a C152. If I needed 100 hours that would be £16,500! Needless to say this was not an option. However some flying schools have lower rates maybe £120 ish but this would still cost you £12,000. Flying is expensive, we don’t need to make it more expensive than necessary.
Also you got to remember that the schools are using these planes for training, it is unlikely that they are going to let you take it away for half a day if you are only planning 1.5 – 2 hours of flying.
Maybe in a less busy time of year you can negotiate a discount with a school, however in my opinion I would focus on the following options.
The next popular option is to go abroad. Years ago when the pound was stronger the US was incredibly good value. Don’t get me wrong, it is still cheaper to fly stateside then it is in the UK however with the weakening pound it is not as cheap as it once was. What you do get however in some states is almost guaranteed clear flying weather and the ability to build 50-60 hours in a month or so which can be difficult in the UK.
You do have to factor in flights, hotels, car rental etc when you go abroad so you need to add this onto the rate you are getting, it might actually be cheaper to stay put if you can find the right deal.
Popular destinations are Florida (be careful of the time of year) or Phoenix. Also South Africa is a pretty cheap place to fly.
Buying a plane
What do you think I am loaded? Well, if you can afford it you can normally buy an aircraft, fly the hours you need and then sell it on without losing much money. The real risk with this is if something goes wrong in your time of ownership and you have to pay to fix it. If you can find the right plane at the right price then this just might be the thing for you.
Finding a share
Now this makes a lot of sense, there are two types of shares equity or non equity shares. The first you buy a part of the ownership of the plane and the second you don’t. Doing it this way means there are a set number of people who will be using the aircraft and the availability is better. When you have finished building your hours you can sell your share onto someone else, which means really you have only played for the hours built. However you also have to consider that possibly the share wont go ASAP and if you need the money to continue your flying, that can be a big issue.
Some shares won’t like hour builders and others will not mind, you just have to have a look and see what is available. If you can find the right share, this could be the right way to get your hours built.
You also will have to chip in for running costs / new engine but this is normally built into your hourly flying rate.
A flying group / club
This is similar to a share apart from normally someone owns the planes (or a group of people) and you have a fixed rate to fly the plane, the group owner takes care of maintenance, inspections etc. The rate normally works out at somewhere between a share and a flying school, more likely towards the share side of things.
Make sure you check out the rules in relation to how often you are allowed to book, how long you can have the plane for etc. There is no point finding a cheap rate if you can only have the aircraft for 2 hours at a time or so.
There are a lot of planes owned by private individuals that are not utilised that much. Some of these owners may be interested in selling you some time in their plane maybe over a month or two when they know they wont be using it. Obviously this would be an arrangement between the two of you but this can work out to be a an excellent way of getting the hours you need relatively cheaply. You never know what a quick convo with someone who has a C150, C152, PA28 etc at your local airfield might lead too.
All of these really depend on your situation so I am sure some will appeal more than others. Also remember maintenance is important, you do not want to be flying in a cheap but poorly maintained aircraft.