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Thread: Looking for my first plane.

  1. #1

    Default Looking for my first plane.

    So I am getting the bug to fly. I have lived in AK for 41 years and its time to venture out on my own in the air.
    I am not a pilot, yet. My plan is to buy a good trainer plane. I am thinking a tail dragger and something affordable to start with. I can get the Super cub when I learn hot to fly good enough to need one.
    Anyway, I am looking for advise as to what tail dragger would be a good fit for a beginner.
    I have looked and read a lot about the Citabria's (all versions) and it seems like a good plane to start with.
    There a several 7eca's out there that are in the $30,000 range. is that something to consider?
    There are also some 7gsbc's for sale but the price jumps up t0 $50,000 and up.
    The J3 is an option also but not sure about the small HP and flying from the back seat.

    If you have any advise please chime in.

  2. #2
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    A modified J3 can become a PA-11 in which you fly from the front seat when solo. A lightweight 90 horse PA-11 Cub will do 80-90% of the things a Super Cub can do. At 4.5 gallons an hour.
    The 115 horse 7ECA are a neat plane but VERY, very underpowered for their weight and type of wing. The 7GCBC is a vastly superior plane.

    That said: Let me put on my CFI hat. 1. Many light weight bush bashing tailwheel planes do not have the equipment you need to properly learn to fly for the FAA practical test. 2. As much as I love tailwheels, and that is what I learned to fly originally, they do take longer to master, and thus longer to obtain your license. 3. The insurance is also higher because the insurance yahoos figure a low time pilot will wonk-up his plane.

    There is nothing wrong with 25-35 thousand dollar C-172 with slightly larger tires. If you yank out the back seat ( which weighs 28 pounds) you have all sorts of cargo room. They can get you around at 120 mph for 8 gallons an hour. They have shoulder room and a panel with enough instruments to properly learn to fly in bad weather. AND, the FAA examiners like giving the practical test in the trusty old C-172s. You can fly it for two or three years and then sell it for what you paid for it. Parts are easy to find and any IA /AP can work on them.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  3. #3

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    I was in a similar situation.

    Medical: At 41, go to an AME and do a "consult" do not fill out any FAA forms. Look at the FAA form and go over anything you have to answer "yes" to. Things you may consider a non-issue, the FAA considers a big issue, which can screw up your plans or delay you. Make sure you won't be denied or sent to Special Issuance. Special Issuance, may or may not be a big deal, discuss with the AME. If they believe you are safe to fly and you do not want to go through the Special Issuance, Sport Pilot is an option. I'm now considering upgrading, my issue is now covered under the new AME can issue program.

    Since I decided to go Sport Pilot, I bought and learned in a J-3. Not enough instruments to do PPL check ride. I too really did not like the idea of flying from the rear seat, many can be flown from the front seat if they have had the nose tank removed, mine has 2 wing tanks and can be flown from the front seat. It has the C-85 and does well, but is limited in capacity and slow. Mine has a useful load of 415lbs. But it is a great solo time builder at 5 gph and they are eligible for Auto Gas STC, so operating costs are low. You want a J3C (J3F or J3L models may have lower gross weights).

    If I was going for PPL I would consider something with an electrical system, more useful load and a bit faster, but the J-3 is great for a Sport Pilot plane.

  4. #4
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    Quote below by Float Pilot:

    Let me put on my CFI hat
    . 1. Many light weight bush bashing tailwheel planes do not have the equipment you need to properly learn to fly for the FAA practical test. 2. As much as I love tailwheels, and that is what I learned to fly originally, they do take longer to master, and thus longer to obtain your license. 3. The insurance is also higher because the insurance yahoos figure a low time pilot will wonk-up his plane.

    There is nothing wrong with 25-35 thousand dollar C-172 with slightly larger tires. If you yank out the back seat ( which weighs 28 pounds) you have all sorts of cargo room. They can get you around at 120 mph for 8 gallons an hour. They have shoulder room and a panel with enough instruments to properly learn to fly in bad weather. AND, the FAA examiners like giving the practical test in the trusty old C-172s. You can fly it for two or three years and then sell it for what you paid for it. Parts are easy to find and any IA /AP can work on them.

    Quote below by Tcraft:

    Good advice given. As a CFI myself, I concur with Float Pilot on the Cessna 172 as a good choice for a first airplane.
    It is hard to beat. They are common at flight schools internationally.



  5. #5
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    Taylorcraft. A modded 1500lb gross BC12D or F19 fits your bill, though neither are "trainers", they're the real deal.

  6. #6
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    Would agree on the 172 for a 1st plane.

    I got the -12 for $19k + annual back in the day, and that price was the only reason I chose it over a 172.....for $20k more (today, i.e. circa $40k) you could get a very airworthy 172 with above-average tires, maybe even with a better-than-average engine. A very stable and useful platform for learning, quicker than many "bushier" planes, and a suitable platform for hauling more than just a kid as a passenger.

    Don't know if its a factor, but the 172 allows both physical room and W&B room for larger pilots and instructors.....including room for size 13's on the pedals.
    Back in AK

  7. #7

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    I was leaning towards a tail dragger because I have talked to several pilots and also read that if you learn on a tail dragger that is a little under powered and no flaps that all other flying you do I the future will be better flying. I am not apposed to learning in a 172 if that's the best thing to do. I hear it's easier that a tail dragger and faster to learn. I will eventually have a cub when I get good enough to need one. I just figured buying a semi capable off airport plane would be good for me to learn in before getting a cub in a few years. I realize it will possibly take more hours to solo but I am willing to do that if its reasonble. I will have about 45K to put into a plane but if I can get a good trainer for less then I am all over that.

  8. #8

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    You can learn in anything, but the CFIs are recommending something that makes it easier to get your training done...as FP said, many or even most inexpensive taildraggers do not even have all the nav equipment required for the private pilot checkride.

    And honestly...until you are at a few hundred hours, that 172 will take you all the places you need to be going anyway...and that includes a lot of places you might think it won't...incredibly capable aircraft...if you learn to really fly it...
    14 Days to Alaska
    Also available on Kindle and Nook

  9. #9
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    Even though I love my plane and would've still wanted it later. If I had it to do over again, I would buy a nose dragger first for time building. 150, 172, PA-22. But if you go the td route and it doesn't have the required instruments, Ive heard of people using the Garmin Aera for training and check ride.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Member Rjusten's Avatar
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    I have a 59 172 that will be for sale soon, It has 8.50's, light weight, extended cargo, hammock backseat. We use it a lot for off airport/fishing, camping.

  11. #11

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    For your plane budget keep enough in reserve for lots of fuel and unforeseen repairs, all these aircraft are old and even with a good pre-buy things can pop up.

    In deciding think about what your mission is for the first few years. Will you be flying solo with friends flying their own planes? Cruising to other airports with passengers? Loading it up for hunting and camping trips? I really liked the idea of sitting in the center of the plane and the feel of a stick for solo flying.

  12. #12
    Member ak_logan's Avatar
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    I completed my ppl this spring in a cub with zero nav equipment, I used an iPad as my gps. I do not understand where any of you guys are coming from saying most Cubs do not have the necessary equipment.

    I'm going to go against what everyone says about starting with something other then exactly what you want. Budget depending of course. If you get what you want from the start you do not develop habits that may differ from those needed say trike to tail wheel. Having never flown a trike I can speak to it but from friends that have them and fly they they say they can be very far more forgiving. Where all I've flown is a cub and I don't even notice what everyone says is an issue with them because it is all I know. I bought a cub having never flown anything else. Solo'd in 11 hours partly because I procrastinated getting my medical done. The awesome thing about tandem aircraft is the visibility. It can not be beat. I can look out either side makes the plane feel larger with all the glass around you. Passengers most likely do not get the same feeling due to having to stare at the back of your head most of the time. So they are not as good for those that are a bit uncomfortable in a small aircraft.

    As has been mentioned before. Be very through find a good mechanic/IA and talk with them. What I found helped most. Go look at a lot of planes. Nice ones not so nice ones. It helps a lot when you go to look at a good deal that's really a polished turd. Secondly be ready to buy. Very good deals do pop up but they rarely last very long so be ready to move in a hurry.

  13. #13
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    I had the same experience as ak logan. Two years ago the practical test standard required the pilot to demonstrate ability to use electronic navigation (there is a new standard which I don't know what the requirements are). I used naviator on my tablet which fulfilled the requirement. Also, you do not have to have a landing light or cabin lighting on your aircraft to do your night training. Good ideas, yes, but there are workarounds such as headlamps and/or Chem lights. In my experience your big issue will be having enough useful load to haul you, the examiner, and enough gas to complete the checkride. I did all my training and check ride in my Taylorcraft BC12D (and just completed the float rating as well). Like ak logan, my tail wheel aircraft is all I know, so I can't speak to the wisdom of starting in a trike aircraft and then changing over. My advice would be to get the aircraft you want. You don't have to fly the supercub to the limits!

  14. #14

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    I am pretty sure my J-3 doesn't meet the instrument requirements for PPL.

    First of all no electrical, no lights so no night flying, not sure chemlights and headlamps meet the regs for night flying. I thought a VOR or ADF and an attitude indicator was required also.

    My Cub has the bare minimum: Tach, Airspeed, Altimeter, Oil Press, Oil Temp, Compass. Portable radio (sure you could get one with a VOR)

    I had a great time learning in it and know the plane really well, learning in your own plane is well worth it, whatever it is. Your instructor can answer all your questions. Have friends that learned in Super Cubs, all the old guys say they love the J-3 and you learn to fly the wing. View out both sides from sitting in the center is great and worked fine for me for training.

  15. #15
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    I looked up the new Airman Certification Standard and it now references navigating by "installed" navigation equipment. So Foreflight and the like are probably not allowed anymore. Be nice to hear from a current DPE. Two of us certainly passed under the old standard which ended in June.

    For night flying, landing lights are required for hire aircraft, not Private and you will not find cabin lighting under night VFR requirements for PPL. Position and anti-collision lights are required so yes, no electrical system=no night flying.

    Regards, Scott

  16. #16

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    Lots of good information and advise.
    I want to thank everyone that responded, I learned a lot.
    I will probably get a good trainer plane with the needed instruments to complete my PPl, hopefully I will find a good tail wheel plane but if not I will get a 172 and just build time till I get a cub or something similar.
    Please keep the advise coming.

  17. #17

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    I would look real hard at a Pacer. Great bang for the buck aircraft 800lb useful load. Lots of them around, parts easy to find, and not a bad starter bush plane. They will make you a good taildragger pilot whether you want to be or not!! Make sure you have brakes on both sides up front. The most important thing is to find a good IA before you go plane shoping. I bought a Pacer before I took my first lesson. flew all over Alaska with it. and never looked back. After 400 hours I got a cub I can now land and get out a lot shorter but still go to all the same places with the cub. Remember get the IA FIRST!!!!
    DENNY

  18. #18
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    Tri-pacer or it's younger brother the 2 place Colt. Look for long range tanks in the Colt. I like my Tcraft but parts availability is an issue.

    I have flown the airplane I am providing a link to and I believe it is for sale again. Very nice. Cleeves Bobcat 200 - 1000AircraftPhotos

    It had been upgraded to 160 HP when I flew it about 10 years ago.

  19. #19
    Member Hunt'N'Photos's Avatar
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    John,
    If your plan is to fly a cub, then I would highly recommend getting a tailwheel plane to start out in. You will be a much better pilot, and quicker. And dont let anyone kid you... There are lots of taildraggers that have everything you need to pass the faa test. If you decide to go on to your instrument, then you will need more, but if you learn first in a taildragger you will be ahead of the game I think...

    I was in the exact same boat as you right almost 4 years ago. I took a weekend ground school class, studied for a week and then went out and passed my written with an 87. I then bought a Citabria 7gcbc and "then" went out and found the right tailwheel instructor for me and my plane. I bought the plane in Dec and had my license in Apr. I then enlisted the help of several "Old" bush pilots to help me make sure I wasnt going to kill myself learning the off airport stuff. I flew over 200 hours the first year, and a little over 2 years later I bought the cub I have now. Now I have just over 600 hours and pretty much all of it is off airport.

    Now I have decided to move on and start the UAA Professional Piloting Aviation program at the end of this month to continue and get all my ratings to fly for a lodge or guide service...

    In the end it all depends on your mission, but for mine I would not have changed a thing!

    This is the citabria I started out in.






    And this is the cub I have now!



    It has definitely been the best thing I have ever done! Follow your dreams!
    US Air Force - retired and Wildlife photographer

    To follow my photography adventures check out my facebook page

  20. #20
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    What about a Stinson, Aeronca Sedan or Cessna 170? My Sedan came with a horizon, DG and turn and bank and was about the cheapest 4 seater on the market at the time and is a taildragger. It seems like getting a taildragger with the equipment needed for your flight training is certainly possible if you look around. There are even a few Citabria's out there with a basic IFR panel.
    Louis Knapp

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