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Flying a Float Plane: How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Plane?

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Just How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Plane?

It is a simple question without an easy answer. The cost varies drastically depending on the type of plane as well as how well equipped it is. Other than this: if the time being used is Hobbs time or Tach time, wet/dry, just how active the field is, and insurance rates can all influence the final cost to you personally. Let’s look at these separately so that you know what to expect.

Type of airplanes:

It clear that the Cirrus will probably rent for more than a Cessna 152. The owner of the plane must regain a minimum of the direct cost of flying the airplane or otherwise he’s simply a charity. You should expect several old 150/152s to ring in less than $100 all in, but that’s becoming more and more scarce lately as gas rates climb.

A half way decently equipped 172 usually runs anywhere between $120-150 based on marketplace and avionics. Your more expensive piston single planes like the Cirrus or Diamond start at about the $200 – $300 and range in price up from there.

How well outfitted is the plane?

The avionics can have an effect on your cost, however not as much as the type of plane itself. Normally, the better avionics will also be in newer planes so it’s challenging to estimate exactly how much the avionics on its own has an effect on the rental cost. By and large, if you’d like amazing features, count on paying extra dollars.

Finding an older airplane without lots of the avionics could be an excellent money-saver. Many consumers demand at least a GPS (a number of pilots could be hard pressed to find home without “Direct To”) and frequently an auto-pilot, so aircraft without these have reduced market demand and thereby have more affordable prices.

If you have such a plane in close proximity, you can get your very own yoke-mounted GPS unit and take it in at the time you fly. It doesn’t require much time for this to pay off either, so in case you fly quite a lot you’ll recover the money very quickly.

Does it use Hobbs or Tach time?

Nearly all airplanes rent out on Hobbs time now, but there are probably a few spots scattered around that may offer you a Tach rate. Hobbs time means that the meter goes once the propeller goes; “Tach time” signifies the meter runs after the RPMs go past a selected point. In essence this implies you cover taxi time with Hobbs and only air time with “Tach”. Naturally, the “Tach” prices are generally a little bit bigger due to this.

If you’re one of the few who has an option, you’ll need to do some calculations to determine which the best deal is. If you’re based from a small airport with little traffic and only a 5 minute takeoff taxi from the ramp, then Hobb’s time is considered the lowest price.

However, if you happen to base from a more busy air port or one that the FBO is farther from the most-used runway and then you’re taxiing and holding short for 20-30 minutes many times, then “tach time” might actually be considered a less expensive option, or at least more predictable.

Is it a busy airport?

As was recently stated, busier airports can be serious time-suckers if you aren’t mindful. If there’s a great deal of commercial or government traffic, you can spend a large amount of your rental time sitting on the taxiway or taking an extra-long final.

There’s an air field near where some of my family lives that’s shared with armed forces cargo planes and often you’ll fly half an hour off the beaten track while the big planes are arriving. Of course if that were your home airport, this would rapidly cut into the finances.

Does it come with a good insurance plan?

I probably lecture about this an excessive amount, but having said that I feel it’s really important. Most rental businesses actually do carry insurance, but be certain to ask to see a copy of the insurance and exactly what it insures. If you find 2 comparable airplanes and the other is more expensive, this might be the explanation.

Much of your typical non-aviation insurance products can have conditions written in that basically cancel any sort of incidents due to your use of general aviation. Your health insurance will most likely not pay medical expenditures for traumas suffered from an accident where you had been the pilot or passenger in a GA aircraft.

Your life insurance policies will unquestionably have fine print regarding this. If you are not cautious, you may leave those you love with significantly less than you might think due to some small print.

When the leasing outfit’s policy is adequate and supplies adequate insurance coverage to help you be secure, then you’re good. But assuming they don’t, look at obtaining some supplemental insurance yourself.

This is usually rather inexpensive on account of your plan is supplemental and consequently doesn’t handle a few of the high-value stuff the owner’s coverage does (hull cost, liability, etc). Just ensure you’re insured as far as health and life and legal liability go, and purchase from an established company that’s existed for a number of years.

An Introduction to Plane Spotting

What is plane spotting?

Plane (or aircraft) spotting is an observation hobby. Enthusiasts note details about the aircraft they observe, such as the type of craft, its registration number (also known as it’s tail or “N-number” in the United States), and any distinctive markings. The information collected is recorded via notebook & can be later added to a spreadsheet or online database.

What are some things that plane spotters notice?

  • What type of engine does it have (jet or propeller)?
  • How many engines does it have (2, 3, or 4)?
  • Where are the engines located? Are they on the fuselage or under the wing? Is there one on the tail?
  • What type of tail does it have?
  • What is the wing type?
  • What is the wing placement (high, mid, or low)?

Supplies Needed

The supplies you choose to use can vary. At the most basic, you will need a notebook & pencil to record the planes you see.

For the more advanced, you will want to invest in a decent camera for taking photos. You will likely use apps on a smartphone (such as those mentioned below) and record your sightings using a computer.

In any case, it would be wise to carry your ID, should you be questioned by airport security or police.

Airport Codes

While plane spotting could technically be done from anywhere, it will generally take place near an airport. Regardless of where you spot, you will be tracking where a plane is going &/or where it is coming from. Therefore, it will be helpful to know that there are two coding systems for identifying airfields: IATA & ICAO.

IATA is a three-character code generally used by the travel industry. You will see these codes when purchasing tickets & on luggage. The IATA code for my regional airport, the Spokane International Airport, is GEG.

ICAO is a four-character code used for flight plans, air traffic management, and weather reporting. In the United States, the IACO codes always begin with “K.” The IACO code for the Spokane International Airport is KGEG.

Plane Finder app

Plane Finder gives you information on planes in route. While I almost exclusively use this service via smartphone app, it is also available on the computer.

When using the service, you will see a map with plane icons, which move in real time. To find out more about a specific flight, click on that plan’s icon & (if available) you will be shown the following information:

  • Callsign
  • Altitude
  • Heading
  • Position
  • Squawk number
  • Speed

Live ATC app

Live ATC is a neat service that allows you to listen to your local air traffic control. Like with Plane Finder, this service can be accessed via computer or via smartphone app.

Plane Spotting Databases

Two online plane spotting databases are SpottingLog & Spot2Log. These online databases allow you to record the information on the aircraft you’ve seen as well as any photos you’ve taken. Additionally, each site integrates with social media. These are huge benefits over using traditional spreadsheets!


Plane spotting is a unique hobby that can be done alone or with others. It is an intersection of many different topics (aircraft, photography, cartography, radio communication, etc.). Participation will certainly broaden your horizon!

Flight Planning Importance and Benefits

Why is Flight Planning Important?

Flight planning is very important for any flight a pilot will undertake as it creates a recipe for the safest flight on a particular day for the specific aircraft in question. Of course, circumstances are never the same and therefore the calculations for each flight must be tailored to the individual aircraft.

Whether a private flight or a commercial one, thorough preparation is needed prior to take-off and there are many careful details to be mapped out. The major points to be considered in a flight plan are that of fuel, weather and route.

These details must be worked out in the best way to enable the aircraft to take the safest yet fastest route available and also to conserve fuel. Fuel is the most important aspect of flight planning and favourable weather conditions can actually assist an aircraft in making its journey using the least amount of fuel.

Wind direction plays a big part in fuel consumption as wind that pushes a craft from behind or front can help or hinder a pilot in making the journey with minimum fuel.With the wind behind it, an aircraft will burn less than it would flying into the wind. Another concern when preparing for a flight is fuel costs. As they are now higher than ever before, companies are looking for ways to attempt to save fuel where possible.

What are the Benefits?

An effective flight plan will keep fuel consumption as low as possible, ensure a safe and efficient flight, limit risks and at the same time minimise expenditure. By minimising the risks and maximising savings, flight planning software today is at its highest level of sophistication and no matter the size of the company, there are many potential money saving opportunities.

Thanks to the developments of the internet and technology, pilots no longer have to calculate a flight using their hands! The introduction of quality planning software not only saves money and time, but most importantly, save lives.

Benefits include:

  • Saves airlines money.
  • The latest software limits risk.
  • Helps to keep fuel consumption low.
  • Shortens the flight time.
  • Helps to accurately pinpoint the amount of extra fuel needed.

Flight Planning and Extra Fuel

All flights need to carry not only enough fuel to complete the scheduled journey, but also a reserve amount to ensure that the craft can fly further afield if needed. Fuel must therefore be calculated to the closest possible gallon. There are times when a different airport may be needed due to disruption and this can make an alternative landing destination a much needed option for pilots.

This is why it is crucial that pilots should account for extra fuel. The common circumstances in which an aircraft may be unable to land are bad weather which could cause visibility problems and technical problems with lighting or power. Although rare, other reasons may be security emergencies, fire or evacuation due to natural disaster.

Another factor to consider when working out extra fuel allowance is that the aircraft may have to circle above the alternative airport for a significant amount of time. Flight planning needs to be very precise and extremely detailed to cover all eventualities.

Flying a Float Plane: Benefits and Downsides

Flying a float plane may not be as difficult as you think. With a few flight training sessions at a flight school near you, you may be living your dream quicker than you realize.

What Kind of License is needed in Canada?

Once you have your Private Pilot License, all you’d require is an additional rating certificate to be permitted to fly a float plane. In order to fly a seaplane, the pilot must finish a minimum of an additional 7 hours of float plane flight training, which include at least 5 hours of training with your Flight Instructor and at least 5 take-offs and 5 landings as a solo pilot of the airplane.

If you are flying a 2-crew aircraft, you will then need to have the 5 take-offs and landings as the Pilot-in-Command of the aircraft.

What Kind of License is Needed in the United States?

If you want to get your Airplane – Single Engine Seaplane (ASES) rating, you will need approximately 6-10 hours of pilot training with your Flight Instructor regarding the matter of taxiing and sailing, docking, mooring and also beaching.

You will also need to be trained in take-offs and landings with various weather and water conditions including normal, glassy, rough and crosswind variations. Emergency operations are important and will need to be studied. Lastly, a successful completion of a flight check examination with an FAA approved Designated Pilot Examiner. (D.P.E.)

What are the Benefits to Flying a Float Plane?

The first and main advantage is: accessibility. There are many landing stripes for pilots to use, but there are even more water locations for seaplane pilots! Think about it: The rough and wild of practically any location can act as your landing spot. Buy that remote cottage and have access to your own private dock.

The other benefit to flying a float plane is regarding the ease of being able to almost always take-off or land directly into the wind. Since you are not limited to a runway, you can use the water surface benefits which mean an easier landing and a quicker take-off.

What is the Downside?

Well, water has a lot of drag and friction… and being water, it means your runway is almost constantly moving. That adds some complications.

The other downside is the added cost of a float plane. When you think of the costs and actually put them down on paper, you note that you could actually purchase a land plane AND a brand new Mercedes for the same cost of a seaplane. This means you could actually buy that brand new Mercedes and leave it at the airport and use it to drive to your cottage as a cheaper option than buying a float plane.

What are the costs?

The upside is that float plane costs have dropped considerably in the last few years. The best advice is to sit back and see what comes up on the market. The current trend seems to indicate that the longer you wait, the lower the price will be.

Take Action

The best thing you can do right now is to just commit to getting out there and taking a practice flight on a float plane. A good flight instructor will give you some great opportunities to see what the world could look like if you were a part of the float plane club.

If you think being a Float Plane Pilot may be exciting, I assure you that it is… and probably far more than you think! Check out a flight school in your area for more information.

Why Planes (Usually) Perform Better In Cold Weather

Cold weather flying has its challenges and downsides. Namely, it’s cold. And you have to be more diligent about pre-flight inspection, prep, and de-icing. But many pilots love winter flying, not only for its unique beauty, but because their planes seem to perform better than in warmer temperatures. Here’s a (simplified) explanation.

First, to clarify: Aircraft may perform better in cold weather, but that doesn’t necessarily mean safer. The potential for icing and its affect on lift and handling is a dangerous threat in freezing temperatures. But icing aside, cold air can help a plane take off and fly more efficiently.

It’s about air density and engine power

So why do planes perform better in cold weather? Simply, colder air is denser than warmer air, which contributes to engine performance and air lift. But why?

A plane’s performance, including takeoff distance, rate of climb, and engine power, is greatly affected by the density of the air, also known as the density altitude.

Generally, both turbine and internal combustion/reciprocating piston engines run more efficiently in cold air because colder air allows the engine to use a greater mass of air/fuel mixture in the same intake volume. That translates into more power.

In propeller-driven planes, the prop is biting into denser air, and thrusting a greater mass of air backwards, which means more thrust and power.

More power allows a plane to accelerate more quickly on take off. That extra power increases the rate of climb, reduces take off roll, gives the wings more lift, and allows the plane to take off at a lower ground speed.

So. It’s not actually that airplanes fly better in cold air; it’s that their engines produce more power when they take off in cold air. Again, when the air is colder, and thus denser, a greater mass of air is able to get into the engine’s cylinders with each stroke, and that equals more power.

More power also means more fuel

Keep in mind that, while engines produce more power in cold air, fuel consumption increases along with power. Scientifically, air contracts when it is cold and denser. This means that the air your plane is taking in during combustion has more oxygen in it. When there’s more oxygen, the engine compensates by using more fuel.

The opposite is also true…

Generally, as temperature increases, a plane’s power and performance decreases. As air heats up, it expands and becomes less dense, or thinner, just like air at higher altitudes.

So on a hot summer day, a plane’s engine is taking in air that is less dense, with less oxygen. That produces less lift, and the plane has to travel faster and farther to take off and fly, like it is at a higher altitude. The up side is, because the air is “expanded,” you’ll use less fuel to get up.

Other advantages of winter flying

On cold, dry days, not only does colder, denser air help a plane’s engine perform better, but less convective heating means less turbulence.

Convective heating is the currents or thermals created when the heat from large bodies of land radiate heat into the cooler air, creating bumps, known as turbulence.

With less convective activity, there is much less chance of thunderstorms, so if winds are low, then flights are usually much smoother. Also, lower humidity improves visibility.

Another benefit of winter flying: less air traffic. That means less stress, and greater enjoyment of flying.

Cessna 172 Skyhawk – The Most Popular Plane of All Time

More Cessna 172’s have been built than any other aircraft. Since production started in 1956, more than 43,000 have rolled off the line, and they continue to do so.

What accounts for the 172’s popularity? It’s a serendipitous combination of performance and utility that’s hard to beat. Though very few pilots would list the Skyhawk as their dream aircraft, it’s the one that many end up with. For decades it was the step up plane after learning to fly in a Cessna 150.

After a 150, the Skyhawk did seem to have loads of room, power, and speed. Confronted with quickly escalating costs of buying and flying larger and faster airplanes, many decided that the 172 suited their needs just fine.

It’s hard to imagine, but the when the 172 was introduced, it seemed a very modern aircraft. Remember, its immediate predecessor was the tail dragging 170, and planes before that were mostly made of wood and fabric. To climb into the relatively quiet all metal 172 was a big jump up in comfort and utility.

Easier to land, cheaper to maintain, 10 knots faster and two more seats than your average tail dragger were big selling points, as the numbers show.

The Skyhawk’s airframe has proven remarkably long lived. Even though the basic technology is over half a century old, when you put modern avionics such as the Garmin G1000 in the instrument panel it’s hard too tell the difference from much newer designs.

The Skyhawk is also helped by docile handling characteristics. Generally regarded as easy to land, it has no bad habits to speak of.

Though aircraft have never been cheap, the 172 benefits from being at the low end of the market for what have long been considered modern aircraft. It’s also the first of what could be considered an aircraft useful for going somewhere. Anything less would have to be considered more for recreation than transportation.

The purchase price is only the entry fee to owning an aircraft. As many owners regretfully discover, it’s really an opportunity to spend much more on gas, insurance, maintenance, inspections, engine replacement funds, hangers, and many other things that consume money. The Skyhawk is fortunate in that having a simple design and low fuel requirements (under 10 gallons/hour), some of these expenses are reduced.

Though the Skyhawk is still being produced, it does have more competition than it did in its heyday. New composite designs are faster and shinier, if not significantly more capable. But with a very deep pool of used aircraft, the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is sure to be a popular airplane for many years to come.

Robby Davis

Robby Davis

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At CoastPrivate, we’re more than simply a jet charter company; we’re a full-service private aviation brokerage offering a wealth of solutions, from ad-hoc charter and elite jet card membership programs, to airliner charters, private jet leasing and private jet sales worldwide.

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