Shared ex­pe­ri­ences

Look­ing back at the groups Nick has been in­volved in

Pilot - - BEYOND THE PPL -

TUR­BU­LENT As a fairly newly-qual­i­fied pi­lot, I bought a share in a Tur­bu­lent with very high hours and a some­what clapped­out en­gine so my out­lay was min­i­mal. The three mem­bers of the group met ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing, took turns to fly for twenty min­utes, then drove to a nearby Chi­nese restau­rant for lunch. We be­came good friends. I also flew cross-coun­tries in it ev­ery cou­ple of months, once as far as Calais. Af­ter a while, I de­cided it was time to move up to some­thing big­ger, sold my share for more than I paid and bought a Jodel.

PITTS SPE­CIAL I sold two shares in a Pitts as it was get­ting too ex­pen­sive to op­er­ate on my own be­cause of spi­ralling hangar rent. The other two mem­bers were also en­ter­ing aer­o­bat­ics com­pe­ti­tions, so we took it in turns to do the fer­ry­ing, which helped to keep down costs. How­ever, one pi­lot lost an ex­pen­sive crash hat−which we shared−fly­ing up­side down with­out the chin strap se­cured. And there were two other se­ri­ous in­ci­dents: a nose-over that broke the pro­pel­ler; and a start-up ac­ci­dent that put the air­craft on its back, de­stroy­ing the top wing. The new wing and pro­pel­ler weren’t as good as the orig­i­nals. Even­tu­ally, with one mem­ber leav­ing the UK to work abroad, and the other want­ing a two-seat Pitts, the group dis­banded and G-AZPH was sold at a loss.

PITTS NO2, THEN LASER Three of us clubbed to­gether to buy a souped-up, one-off, Pitts Spe­cial (G-BKDR) from an­other syn­di­cate, which was mov­ing up to a Lazer mono­plane. We took it in turns to fly with a trainer watch­ing be­low and soon dis­cov­ered that ’DR was a con­test win­ner. We en­tered sev­eral in the UK and some on the Con­ti­nent (Bel­gium and Hol­land) and all moved up the com­pe­ti­tion lad­der. The air­craft was fast, re­li­able and a de­light to fly, but it was rapidly be­ing out­classed by mono­planes, so we sold it for what we had paid and bought an­other air­craft−the Laser−from the same syn­di­cate that had sold us the Pitts. They were mov­ing up to a Su 26. The Laser had a lot wrong with it and two of us worked hard to fix it be­fore we all set­tled down to hard prac­tice. It was an ex­tremely worth­while group, but even­tu­ally came to an end and we sold the air­craft for roughly what we had paid for it.

STAMPE My Stampe was a bat­tered, oily old thing, ex­pen­sive to op­er­ate from the start, but af­ter a re­build I even­tu­ally met my goal of win­ning the In­ter­me­di­ate Na­tion­als in it. The main­te­nance bills kept mount­ing though and I couldn’t jus­tify pay­ing them alone, so thought it might be fun to op­er­ate the Stampe as a group aero­plane. I ad­ver­tised and soon sold three shares, keep­ing a quar­ter of the aero­plane. You might won­der why main­te­nance was so costly: the Stampe was de­signed as a mil­i­tary trainer on the as­sump­tion that there would be lots of spares and labour on hand to keep it go­ing, and it had ac­cu­mu­lated a lot of labour-in­ten­sive Air­wor­thi­ness Di­rec­tives.

How­ever, the three new own­ers were in­ex­pe­ri­enced with old bi­planes and in­clined to be rough with the con­trols; they also failed to mas­ter land­ing at the farm strip where the aero­plane was kept, so I ended up fer­ry­ing them around. It al­ways seemed to be me who wiped the oil off the belly af­ter­wards and one mem­ber was slow in pay­ing his bills. I even­tu­ally per­suaded the oth­ers to buy me out. Fi­nally, the re­main­ing own­ers de­cided that they had had enough of large bills and asked me to sell the Stampe for them. It sold for two-thirds its worth and I worked out later that the three mem­bers who bought into the Stampe ended up pay­ing (fixed and run­ning costs) a quar­ter to a third more than it would have cost them to hire one with an in­struc­tor for the same num­ber of hours.

In con­clu­sion, group own­er­ship isn’t for ev­ery­one and there are pit­falls, but it’s less risky than sole own­er­ship and it opens up a whole new world of avi­a­tion. For a newly qual­i­fied PPL, it’s an av­enue well worth ex­plor­ing.

Group own­er­ship will for many pi­lots be the only way to se­cure af­ford­able fly­ing in com­plex types

To­day ’PD flies on in White­man ju­nior’s sole own­er­ship

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