So, you’re thinking of buying an airplane. Congratulations! Whether pre-owned or brand-new, buying an airplane is a rewarding investment. It’s also a major responsibility that should come with careful consideration. Not to mention, the process of acquiring an aircraft can be stressful and intimidating, especially if you’re a first-timer. We have a few tips to help you make a confident, informed decision and find a personal airplane that fits your flying needs, goals, and dreams.

The Right Match for Your Mission
Early on, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of comparing different airplanes and their various features. But first, it’s important to think about what you really want to get out of your aircraft.

How do you want to fly?
What’s your typical flying mission? Are you looking for a “weekend warrior” to handle those low and slow $100 hamburger flights or a fast cruiser for cross-country business travel? Maybe you prioritize aerobatic capabilities or backcountry STOL performance. Making a list of how you plan on using your airplane will help you narrow down the options.

Who do you want to fly with?
For some pilots, flying is most enjoyable as a peaceful, solo activity. For others, flying is a meaningful way to share their passion with family and friends. Knowing who you want to fly with will help you determine if you need a single-seat, two-seat, or four-seat (or more) aircraft.

Where do you want to fly?
Last but not least, think about where you plan on taking your aircraft — or rather, where it will take you! Consider the typical trip distance and conditions of flight as well as the weather and terrain you might encounter. Will you need a heavy-duty hauler that can handle camping gear or lots of luggage? How often will you be landing on grass, gravel, or sandy runways? What about operating in snowy or icy conditions?

Be honest and realistic. Depending on your requirements, you may not need a brand new aircraft with all the latest bells and whistles. It’s possible to customize a used plane to meet your mission with after-market modifications and upgrades, such as an airplane propeller conversion.