Question from a reader - Should I buy an aircraft to learn to fly.

Q.  Sky, I'm looking at getting a private pilot rating in the next couple of years, and have considered purchasing an airplane to use during instruction.  I have been told it would help me save on rental fees and it does seem, that you can buy more affordably than rent!  However, can a student pilot get (affordable) insurance on his personal aircraft while learning to fly?  Seems there may be a contradiction here? 

I enjoy reading your articles; they are always informative and entertaining.
I would appreciate any information you might provide in response to my question,

A.  I do think buying can be a good way to go.  Ownership frees up the planes schedule and you can get it whenever you want.  No overnight charges if you take a trip.  You know the maintenance history and as an owner, you get comfortable with the aircraft.

But, the biggest problem is buying something that might not be what you want at a later time.  Surprisingly, the wants and needs get mixed up, so what you want, might be different than what you really need.  If possible fly a few different models of aircraft.  That might mean going to a few different FBO’s and getting in their aircraft.   But after you get a few hours, you will be able to tell the difference between a Cessna 150 and a Cherokee 140.  You know, high and low wing, landing, visibility, all these factors are important to every pilot in some manner.  Make sure you try them all out before you purchase.

After the decision, a lot depends on what is "affordable" to you.  If you were to buy a $25,000 Cessna 172 or Cherokee 140 you would probably spend about $1200 a year in full coverage insurance.  A Cessna 150 would be a little bit less because of only having two seats.  A tailwheel aircraft would be a little more.

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