You’ll hear many people say “If it floats, flies, or f***, rent don’t buy.” Those people are sexist idiots; you should not listen to them. Whether you should buy depends on whether you plan to fly often, and if you can afford a plane. If the answer to both is yes, then buy a plane.

As you start the process, here are a few things to consider:

  • Define your mission: To choose the type of plane you buy, you’ll need a good understanding of your mission. How many people do you tend to fly with? How far will you go? How often? If you don’t have ready answers to these questions, keep renting for a while longer until you have ready answers. Better to rent for a bit longer, than buy too early and risk ending up with too much or too little plane.

  • Plan financially: Buying and owning a plane is expensive. Even an old Skylane will cost >50k to acquire, >2k/yr in fixed costs and an average of >$100/hr to operate. Of course, flight training and renting is expensive too. So, if you could afford flight training and regular renting then you can probably afford to buy a plane.

  • Consider the responsibility: Owning a plane is a big responsibility. When you rent, everything is taken care of for you. When you own, the opposite is the case. You will need to keep up with ADs, update avionics databases, track recurring maintenance, maintain detailed financial records. If you forget or miss things, you could endanger yourself, your passengers, and your finances.

The most important thing is to take it slow, and divorce your decision making from emotion. When you start thinking about buying a plane the natural thing is to want to expedite as much as possible. What you need to do is the opposite. Time is very much on your side. Every day you wait you learn more about the market, your financial situation improves, and your knowledge of planes improves. There is no single plane soul mate you might miss; in fact, planes are relatively fungible. Be patient; wait until you’re certain you know what type of plane to buy, your finances are in order, and you’re ready to maintain it. Remember, you can’t un-buy a plane once you sign the paperwork.