My first Plane

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Dear Sir,

I have been enjoying reading your blogs and information on flying. I
am new student pilot(15 hours so far!). I am learning on 172 with
Garmin 1000.

I have been fortunate that I have the means to buy a new plane(USD2M
budget). But I want to make smart decision for my purchase.

I live in SF fly out of San Carlos(KSQL) and I just got security
clearance to fly into Potomac Airfield(KVKX). My girlfriend lives in
DC and I want to get a plane whereby I can fly to see her on the weekends!

I have been looking at the:
Mooney Ovation 3
TBM 700

I want to get my IFR after my solo checkride. I have a great CFI who
can get me there. But I want your advice on what plane I should get.
Am I asking for too much plane with the above choices? You mentioned
in a previous post that because of my low hours insurance should not
really matter. I just want to know if its safe for a low hour pilot
like myself to fly to a PC-12 or TBM 700....

Thanks for you advice!

-- Fred John, October 14, 2007


I really should figure out how to zap this into the Aviation forum...

$2 million budget and 15 hours. Sounds like a Google employee to me :-)

DC to SF can be painful against typical headwinds in the flight levels. 80 knots on the nose makes the TBM effectively much faster than the PC-12. If you don't anticipate carrying more than 4 people for any significant distance, the TBM seems like the better choice.

The Mooney is a very economical 1-person airplane but you will probably not enjoy wearing oxygen masks when going high so I would say that the minimum airplane for the coast-to-coast mission is a Piper Malibu (and nobody with enough money to fly a TBM 700 would fly a Malibu). If you do get a TBM 700, expect it to depreciate to about $1.2 million so don't spend more than $1.2 million plus whatever you are willing to lose in depreciation.

-- Philip Greenspun, October 14, 2007

Regarding the questions below...

The PC-12 is quieter and more comfortable for passengers. But the speed difference will be significant against typical headwinds, esp. in the winter, and the acquisition cost is much higher of the PC-12. Both planes are easy to fly. If it is mostly you and your CFI, the TBM is more than comfortable enough. If you add two passengers in the back, I'd still vote for the TBM. If you regularly will carry more than two people in the back, I guess that tips it toward the PC-12.

If SF/DC/SF over a weekend is truly your mission, however, I suspect you won't be keeping either plane very long. The headwinds in the flight levels are what drive people into jets (you still can have 80 or 100 knot headwinds but you're started from 350-400 knots instead of 250-300).

Don't worry too much about the airplane and the training if you are serious. The military puts very low time pilots into planes that are similar in complexity to the TBM or PC-12 (turboprop in front, retractable gear) and they don't have a high accident rate. Just don't expect to get a complex plane and fly once per month and be safe/current. Livingston Taylor, the singer/songwriter and pilot, likes to say "It is bad to be a part-time pilot in a full-time pilot's airplane."

-- Philip Greenspun, October 17, 2007


Thank you for the quick response. Don't work for Google, but did buy the stock at just under $200!

To the TBM 700 a good plane for me to handle(a low hour pilot). What about the PC-12? The cabin is so much more comfortable, especially for four. From your reveiew of the TBM 700, it look like to could be a tight fit for passengers. I am 6ft. on a cross country that adequate space?

thank you, rayan

-- Fred John, October 15, 2007

I would personally go for the Piper Meridian. Its about the same as a Malibu but with a turboprop, fun to fly as well. PC-12 is an amazing aircraft, but insurance requirements are quite high so expect to fly it with a CFI for ALONG time. Meridian is kind of high too but requirements are still lower. If I may suggest a place to look, they are VERY good people there and very helpful. Hope what I had for you was helpful.

-- Samuel Smith, February 2, 2009