Cheaper flying thoughts

Things that don't fit anywhere else.
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Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby Bjjones » Wed Dec 26, 2007 1:26 pm

There was no mention of aircraft that have more efficient fuel burns. While in Europe last January I rented a Diamond DA40 that ran on JET A with a Diesel engine. We saw fuel burns of 6 GPH while cruising at over 120 Kits.

Not sure why the powers that be have not embraced or adopted this technology faster. I have seen information that Cessna is finally joining on with the Skyhawk TD. For more information follow this link:

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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby LimaBravo » Fri Dec 28, 2007 2:36 pm


I agree with BJ. The US really needs folks to push to the forefront some alternative fuels / power / energy for aircraft. I know how terribly expensive this is for manufacturers to R&D these products, however I am sure there can be a consortium of effort somehow.

I'd be interested in trumpeting the message if anyone got such a group together.

This would be a great way to find other folks who have success stories of ways to fly cheaper, similar to what BJ suggested. With enough people grouped together you can get tons of ideas on certain things that work well. For instance, in the past I have had a few O-320-E3D's that I converted to be similar to the higher horsepower O-320-D3G's. The cost is way less expensive than a new or reman D3G, and you can fly along at 110knts IAS while burning only 6.8gph. (example from a cherokee).

Hopefully the forum that Jack, Dave, and Jeb have opened up will allow people to find such ideas and make decisions based on research derived from them.


Mark Zinkel
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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby Mark Zinkel » Sun Jan 06, 2008 3:37 am

This is the ultimate solution for cheep flying, but first you have to answer the following question:

Are you open minded?

If you answered yes, you should probably get yourself an ultralight. All ultralights must comply with FAR 103. There are quite a few ultralights that comply but even more that don't. The ones that don't will probably end up with an N-number fairly soon if they make the Jan 31 deadline. The FAA used to not enforce fat ultralights (Correction for UCAP 62: fat ultralights are typically referred to as the ultralights that don't comply with FAR 103), but there's been a lot of talk from the FAA that they will after Jan 31. Anyways, my point is that if you're wanting to get an ultralight, find one that's legal. The following link is a list of compliant ultralights:

I myself am building an ultralight right now. It's called the Skypup and pilots report fuel burn rates at about 1.5gph. Others will give you smaller numbers, but 1.5 is a number that keeps on popping up. With ultralights the total cost of flying, storing, and maintaining is very minimal. Also, I'm predicting that I'll finish my Skypup with a total cost well under $3,000. Without a doubt ultralights is the form of aviation that will give you the best bang for your buck.

The way I see things is that every Cessna 172 pilot, Mooney Pilot, Cirrus pilot, etc that goes out once and a while to fly for fun should have an ultralight (you can keep the other plane for other uses). Why not? It will save you a whole pile of money and can be just as safe as general aviation...actually safer since you can land just about anywhere!

The solution of expensive aircraft operating costs is the ultralight. Some aircraft move, others fly. Ultralights definitely fly!
It's aviation's biggest secret (Seriously! Ask your neighbor if they've heard of one.)

Keep on flying guys,
Mark Zinkel

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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby jackhodgson » Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:12 am

Good post!

I've always felt that ultralights were a great way to fly economically. And also, it seems to be the purest form of "grass roots" flying.

Between Dave's enthusiasm, and posts like yours, I'm about ready to make the leap.

-- Jack

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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby Dave Higdon » Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:33 pm

Love the comments on FAR 103 flying, though, to be fair, it's hard to compare a Diesel Skyhawk with a SkyPup in terms of utility...but both, in their own ways, offer low-cost alternates to other options in their classes...

And as an aside, read something recently assessing the new Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rules and their impact; the writer introduced LSA as the "FAA's way to do away with ultralights..." -- which struck me as revealing a fundamental misunderstanding of both...

Thankfully, the stuff covered in FAR 1.1 (LSA) did nothing to change the stuff in FAR 103...the advent of the LSA did alter the treatment of two-place ultralight trainers, however, ending the special training waivers under which they had operated for two decades and putting them under the LSA category...

We're indeed fortunate to have both these segments available for our budget-flying needs and both have tremendous fun factor associated with them...So, long live the Ultralight!

Meanwhile, Cessna won't be the last U.S. planemaker to embrace Diesel engine technology, though, unfortunately, what was once a price advantage for the fuel seems to have vanished -- but at least the operators will still benefit from the lower fuel burns...

Thanks for some great posts!

Dave Higdon

Mark Zinkel
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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby Mark Zinkel » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:12 am

Another idea.

What about biodiesel? It sounds like it would work if done properly. You would need a heater for cold days or high altitudes because it jells up in the cold. Has it been done before? If not, I assume all that gets in the way is time. Too bad they didn't make any diesel engines for ultralights because I have about 30 pounds left to work with.

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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby Dave Higdon » Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:18 pm

Save the weight, Mark, save the weight...and yes, there are efforts underway to use Biodiesel for Diesel-powered aircraft...given how different gasoline and Diesel engines are in design and function, and given the low fuel consumption levels you'll be dealing with, believe you're be better off with a gas engine.

On your biodiesel note, the Air Force recently completed some flights of a front-line transport using a synthetic fuel...and some tests have been flown using biodiesel...

Also, FWIW, heaters in fuel tanks of Jet A/Kerosine-powered aircraft are already pretty much SOP for the same reasons you mentioned...and to protect against the formation of ice crystals...Another concern for the Jet A-powered set concerns microbes growing in the fuel...for these last two items, fuelers often offer an additive for the fuel...


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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby Madmax » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:27 pm

I have to tell ya, the bulk of the flying I do (unpressurized) is done as high as I can, in the low teens. It is all about low fuel burn, about 40% less up high, and less crowds. On a given day the causal pilot is zipping around at 2000ft or so, I would really so much rather be above that. The down side is for some the low level stuff is why they like to fly. Personally I fly for transportation or competition and that’s about it. not to ‘burn holes in the sky’

as always your mileage may vary
Sum Ergo Cogito —


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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby champguy » Mon Jan 28, 2008 10:02 pm

I'm all for cheaper flying, as long as I don't get cold or wet. Here in coastal Oregon that is an issue. I've got a '49 Champ, 7CCm with the "mighty 90". Between the cost of the plane and the fuel burn it would be hard to get much cheaper and still be able to go anywhere.
From the coast it is forty to sixty miles over the Coast Range for a good burger. Oshkosh last summer took three and a half days with some care through, not over, the mountains.
Ultralights cost half what my champ did, but after the resale, I'll bet the net is about the same.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.

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Re: Cheaper flying thoughts

Postby joemurffy » Tue Jan 29, 2008 2:25 am

Reading through here it is pretty obvious that "cheap" is very dependant upon one's purpose of flying at the time. If you're looking to just get up in the air, then the ultralight appears outstanding, and I can't wait to try one of the newer models. For flying the family around the country I think that my Cherokee Six is pretty fair on cost. However, when I need to go somewhere far away, but by myself, there is no beating AirTran from a purely economic standpoint.

For that local area fun flying, here is one idea to not dismiss - some sort of flying club. For comparison purposes, here is what I lucked into. About two years ago I bought a 1/10th share of a 1950 Aeronca Champ (also a 7CCM, like the previous poster). It was $500, and I will theoritically get that back if I were to ever choose to sell my share. Operating costs are $40/month, plus $25/tach-hour, wet. This includes everything (maintenance, insurance, hanger, etc.) Our group is made up of a lot of high-time, prior military pilots, and then some relatively low-time pilots, such as myself. We even have a couple of CFI's who provide instruction to us others for the cost of the plane. Also, we are the only plane on a private grass-strip about ten minutes from my door.

I know that I'm lucky, but there has to be a lot of other great clubs around the country that will become better known to you the more you hang out at the airports. And for those of you trying to just build hours, an hour logged is an hour logged (maybe different for ultralights), regardless of how cheap it is. And every hour goes to improve my experience, confidence, insurance premiums on the Cherokee, and general state of mind.
Joe Murphy - KPMV

N4706E / N115CC "Circus, Circus"
'51 Aeronca Champ 7CCM / '79 Bellanca Super Viking
'Once you fly fabric, you won't settle for metal.'

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