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Purchasing an aircraft can be a very simple process, but exercising maximum due diligence is highly suggested prior to completing a transaction. Many of the most popular bush plane aircraft are type certified models that were manufactured in the 1940's, 50's, and 60's, and are still flying today because of good maintenance and/or dedicated restorers. However, many aircraft have not been well maintained, yet still fly. It can be a very expensive and heartbreaking experience to purchase an aircraft that appears good on the outside, but contains many hidden maintenance items that must be addressed for continued safe flight.

What aircraft is right for me?

The age-old question of "what aircraft is right for me?" is one of the most popular topics in the forum, and rightly so. Choosing between 2 seats and 4 seats, LSA and Standard Category, and engine size, can really tax our dichotomizing brains. Often the question comes down to the owner's mission: What will you use the aircraft for 80% of the time? Will you mainly hop farm strips at low elevations? Or take the entire family camping in the mountains? This can decide that juggling of specs, and how much money can be justified for the mission.

Buying complete vs building at home

Amateur homebuilding of aircraft is a complex topic, because while the dreaming and shopping is the easiest part of the process, it can prove difficult to finish for busy people with careers and families. This question is actually 2 questions: 1) Type certified vs Experimental Amateur Homebuilt and 2) Complete aircraft (used) vs kit or scratchbuilding.

Certified vs Experimental


Complete vs Kit/scratchbuilding


Pre-purchase inspection



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  • Adjusting idle mixture on Lycoming engines:

    The idle mixture screw is typically set somewhere between 1.5 and 2 turns out or rich from the fully closed or "in" position. With a warm engine, shut down by pulling the mixture all the way out. As the mixture leans, rpm should increase by up to 50rpm. Adjust the idle mixture screw in or out within the range until a 30 to 50 rpm increase occurs at which point the idle mixture is adjusted correctly.


    from Elko, NV, USA
  • So...if I live in WA and I buy a plane registered and based in CA, do I have to pay CA sales tax on the plane?

  • I suggest adding a landing gear configuration to the list of items to consider. Tricycle gear versus tail dragger is an old subject but a necessary consideration for any aircraft purchase since numerous designs can be configured either way. I expect it will be a somewhat colorful discussion between the two camps...

  • After one year of owning our Kitfox IV Speedster, purchased in Colorado and flown home across the Rockies, Utah, Oregon, Idaho and Washington I can say that for me purchasing was a much better decision than trying to buy, build and certify a kit. I'll probably get five years of flying in, and am very pleased with the aircraft. I am of course discovering things I'd like to repair, or change, but that's part of the process, but in the meantime I'm flying, not dreaming. Just put 21" Nanco tires on the original Kitfox wheels, and waiting to install the pneumatic tailwheel, and then it's off to the backcountry around Washington.

  • Financing a classic/vintage aircraft can be a challenge, too, since the bank is going to want to make sure that they can recover the cost of their investment should the purchaser default on his/her loan. The younger your plane, the higher likelihood you'll find a lender willing to work with you.

    I talked to a couple of lenders about purchasing a 40s-50s vintage aircraft (larger one that you wouldn't normally pay cash for), and they weren't willing to cover it. I ended up investing in a 1990s model that was easier to work with them on.

    from Wisconsin, USA

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While this knowledge base is a compilation of information from various sources, some official in nature, it is not a recognized or acredited source of aviation training information, and thus should be considered entertainment. Please consult a FAA-certificated flight instructor or mechanic prior to putting any information found here into practice.