It’s worth at least considering a partnership. Essentially, you and at least one other person agree to share the costs of acquiring and operating the plane, and of course the benefits of owning it. A partnership provides many advantages:

  • You can afford more plane. The more people in the partnership, the more money is available. If two people can each afford an old Skylane, together they can probably afford a G1000 Skylane or even a TTx.
  • The plane gets flown more. The only happy plane is one that’s flown often. The more partners, the more likely the plane is flown regularly and the more hours it gets overall.
  • You have a flying buddy. If you are in a partnership with someone, chances are you’ll be in close contact at all times. The members of your partnership will make excellent safety pilots for maintaining currency.
  • You have a financial cushion. If one partner has a temporary money problem, the others can make sure the plane is still maintained well.

Of course, they come with their downsides:

  • Limited availability. The more partners, the more people want to fly the plane. Demand won’t be evenly distributed among every day; weekends and holidays will be the most sought after. Entering a partnership might mean you only get the plane 2 weekends a month, or only get every third Thanksgiving.
  • Limited flexibility. Everyone in the partnership needs to sign off on a sale. If one person wants to upgrade or downgrade they won’t be able to without finding someone to take their place or getting the other partners to agree.
  • Financial risk. If you enter a partnership to get more plane than you can afford alone, and one of the partners has a financial problem, now you have a financial problem.
  • Different philosophies. Some people do oil changes every 25 hours; others every 50. Some like refreshing the paint every few years; others wait until aluminum is showing through. Partnerships deteriorate rapidly when partners disagree about how the plane should be maintained. Things can get extremely toxic, as one side will believe that the other is jeopardizing safety while the other feels it’s avoiding senseless waste.

Think of a partnership as a joint business venture or shared vacation home. It lets you do more than you could do alone, and it can be fun to share an experience with someone. But, it comes with tangible risks. Don’t do it unless you know the people involved, understand the risks, and have a plan to control them.