Finding and Buying an Airplane

The Search

I spent a few months looking, reading the used airplane publications, and sometimes driving to other airports to see what might be available. Some aircraft for sale aren’t advertised at all, except for ads on airport bulletin boards or For Sale signs on the airplanes. Some airports have dealers or brokers who can help find something for sale, but I never visited one who had more than a few airplanes available at one time.

Some other places to look are online, in rec.aviation.marketplace, or in the aviation forums on America Online or CompuServe. I tried all of these methods without finding anything reasonably local to seriously consider.

I found my airplane the way I suspect many buyers do, by knowing the owner before the airplane was put up for sale. I ended up buying the same 172 I went to the Bahamas in back in April. It was mentioned back then that it may be offered for sale this year, so while I was looking at other airplanes I was trying to decide whether I would want to buy it. It met all my criteria, but since it’s on the older end of the range (1960), I considered spending more to get something newer.

The Purchase

I found out in July that the airplane was going to be sold, and that I would get a chance to buy it before it would be advertised, so it was time for me to decide. I had already flown in it for several hours, all in the back seat, so I knew it was comfortable. I had an instrument-rated friend check out the panel, and it passed the test. We went for a short ride in it, then I flew it with the owner. Each time I saw it, it seemed more like the right airplane for me. We agreed on a price and I put down a deposit.

The purchase was surprisingly uncomplicated. The biggest problem was waiting on the money from the bank. (It’s funny how they can approve a loan over the phone, but take several weeks to get the money to the borrower.) I leased a hangar and arranged for insurance, then waited and waited for the bank.

The money finally came through, and the airplane was signed over to me today. There were only two forms to fill out, a bill of sale and registration application, both of which were sent to the FAA with the processing fee. I will get back a registration that lasts as long as I own the plane and maintain it according to the regulations. (There used to be another form, an FCC radio operator’s license, but that’s no longer required for use of the airplane within the U.S.)

Continue to About the Airplane.

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