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Airplane Acquisition: Getting Into the Air
by Scott Fank

08/08 - Buying an airplane is a common goal; lots of avid flyers look for an airplane for sale online or in print publications. When buying an airplane, there are many factors to keep in mind, including the price.

Choosing a plane Every airplane is different, and when you are shopping around for that perfect set of wings, you'll want to evaluate many aspects of the craft.

Hardware and overall engineering is important; airplane buyers choose between propeller-driven planes or other crafts with jet engines.

Wing span, positioning and landing gear type are other features that those looking at airplanes for sale will look at in determining what kind of purchase is right for them.

Some planes also have additional features such as advanced fuel tank design or special controls.

Lots of buyers pay attention to the engine type, and some experts say buyers should favor engines that are still in production, as they may be easier to work with.

Condition Airplane buyers will also look for any defects, especially in a used airplane. The body has to be free of excessive wear patterns or rust, and all avionics need to be in working order.

Buyers frequently do a "pre-buy inspection" that includes checking out all of the features of a plane inside and out, and even taking the plane up into the air to see how it handles. A trained mechanic can also check the interior systems and recommend any fixes or point out potential problem areas.

Paperwork When buying an aircraft for sale on the "common market", there are a number of record-keeping issues to wade through. If the prior owner has presented you with a log book and service records, that's a great start. In addition to ownership details, there's also getting insurance for you new vehicle.

When buying an airplane, buyers should be sure they can get a "clear title" by checking FAA records for any liens on the airplane. An airplane for sale with a compromised title is a shady deal: do the necessary research to determine the title is unencumbered by any liens or garnishments.

You'll also need to provide for insurance through a select body of large aviation underwriters. Get an established agent to represent you to insurance firms that will get you comprehensive coverage for your craft.

Other Options If buying an airplane for sale outright is too much of a burden, whether in terms of finances or practicality, a pilot can join up with aviation "clubs" offering perks of membership including "time-shared" crafts or flight hours.

Joint ownership is a powerful tool in the belt of those who want to get into the air. Joint ownership of an airplane helps with the paperwork issue, as clubs can function as a "hub" for dealing with the issues of ownership particular to large vehicle acquisitions. Joint ownership is also a less risky investment and easier on personal finances, and still allows amateur pilots to go up in the air when they are able to fit it into their schedules.

In any case, take time when thinking about buying an airplane for sale in your local classified section to see how it can be a win-win experience.

Scott Fank is the V.P. of sales at J.A. Aero, Inc. Look for airplanes for sale at J.A. Aero.