Big Red

Big Red

So this is my airplane. And by “my” I mean “our” airplane. Can’t take sole ownership, since my father spent a fair amount of money in the old craft. And now that he is a fully licensed pilot at the young age of 70, perhaps he’ll finally get to take left seat control.

Let’s talk about buying an airplane. It may be the worst financial decision one can have other than buying a boat. Boats are fun, and when you sit on the shoreline of a lake or along the beaches of the Gulf, you see people in boats and think, “wish that was me, for if I were to own that boat, I’d sail or power my way down the coastline, fishing and drinking beer, and getting a nice tan.” Then you buy the boat, and of course you buy a used boat, and it sits on the trailer awaiting the adventures you promised. Now, I’ve owned a boat, and I spent a lot of time on that boat. Mostly floating on a body of water waiting to get towed back to shore after the engine conked out. Again. And owning a boat in Florida – all great if you have the money for a slip in the local marina. But if you’re putting it in and out of the water yourself, let me tell you its hot and stinking hard work in the middle of a July summer.

Point is, boats are nice, but they aren’t airplanes and that’s really the only comparison to make. As when someone loves airplanes, its not a hobby or weekend recreational fun, it becomes a lifestyle. And the money spent on aviation, not worth discussing. When you have it, you fix something on the plane. When you don’t, you borrow it and fix something on the plane. And if you’re not fixing it, then you’re putting gas in it and flying. For most aviators I know who own their airplanes, their airplanes are not toys for amusement, they’re family. We spend money, worry about them, pat them on the nose, and sometimes smack their rears when they get out of line. But we love them. They may be more expensive than a kids college education, but let’s face it, if you spend money on a college education, does it make you feel as good as a perfect wheel landing?  (I’ll let the parents of the world debate that, I have no place making comment since I have no kids.)

So now you own an airplane and you’ve found it a hangar to reside in, and you wait for weather to break. You’ll sit at work and smell the avgas and the oil still buried under your fingernails and smile. You’ll go to bed and dream about that last slip to landing, or the swale in the grass that caught you off guard and made your passenger yell “Whoa!” You’ll find yourself in a club of other aviators and plane owners that have nothing but stories and tales of misadventure. 99% of them are all false, but you won’t care.

If the weather is bad, you’ll still just want to go down to the hangar and sit under the wing and stare at your plane or talk to it – just so you don’t do that in front of other people. As you meet new people, you will bring them to the airport and show off your plane and get them to go flying with you, whether they want to or not. And quite frankly, anyone that hates flying, you’ll stare, jaw open, and eyebrow raised. Basically the same expression someone would have if an Alien from Mars landed in your backyard and suddenly started speaking in a very English accent that he’d like to borrow your phone to dial home.

You’ll name your plane of course. And you probably have some pet names for it too, but only in secret since your friends will make fun of you. And don’t lie, you know you’ve kissed the nose cone at least once.

Now, what idiot would do that for a boat?


Just a guy, happy with life, happy with my wife, dogs, antiques, and a passion for aviation, classic cars, and writing.

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